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Will it all be the Same Again

Posted Friday, 01 September 2017

A new generation of children began their senior school experience this week.  Despite the apprehension, most approach it with some degree of excitement.  New opportunities ahead.  Bigger and better, eye catching facilities.  The big stage. 

PE and School Sport plays its full part in this process.  For many it is something to look forward to, a potential high point of school life.  For others, it invokes dread.

The confidence with which it is approached is generally a reflection of previous experience.  Those whose earlier school life was full of team selection, match and festival triumphs come armed with medals, certificates and an expectation that the next experience will be as positive.  Others have already learned to carry the badge of “non-sporty”.  Their attendance at after school sport may have evaporated long ago,...

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Parents in Sport: Do you want to Witness Joy or Victory?

Posted Wednesday, 02 August 2017

The great majority of parents like to see their offspring participate in sports or physical activity.  Rarer is the carer who sees no value in this.  The reasons why they approve of this type of involvement vary, though they are infrequently thought-out beyond the vague conviction that it’s somehow “good” for the kids.  What parents want their kids to get out of their experience of youth sport will determine the environment they choose to put them into, and the achievements that they wish to celebrate and encourage.

Research is quite clear what children enjoy in sport.  Having fun, being with friends, getting better at something, the excitement of competition: these are fairly consistent conclusions.  All these regularly appear above the desire to win trophies.  Whether the influential adults who determine the youth sports environment reflect these...

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Does School Sport Exist for the Benefit of Schools, Sport – or Children?

Posted Tuesday, 25 July 2017

Establishing the purpose of something has always been recognised as an important starting point for defining a strategy.  Stephen Covey recommended “start(ing) withy the end in mind”: Simon Sinek made an industry out of “Start with Why”.

School sport never had that luxury.  It was never planned, nor its purpose established.  Consequently, it should not be of any surprise that success criteria have been confused, and varied, for more than a hundred years.  Whether it is supposed to develop sports skills, fitness or personal characteristics has never been satisfactorily prioritised.  Neither has the place of competitive success.  Whether victory against local rivals was pursued to enable pupils to experience satisfaction of achievement, or simply to promote the superiority of one school ahead of another in a competitive marketplace, has never been...

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Has School Sport Become too Extreme?

Posted Monday, 17 July 2017

The last twenty years has seen an astronomical increase in the standard of the top level of school sport in UK.  The increased allocation of resources – time, facilities, specialist coaching, levels of competition – has developed out of all recognition.  Top level performance, and victory in an ever increasing number of high profile competitions has become more important.  The result is a fierce contest for the services of the best players and the emergence of increasingly demanding programmes of preparation. 

This process – the ‘academisation” of school sport – has unquestionably raised the standard of the best performers and the leading teams.  An unintended consequence, however, is a subtle shift in the purpose of sport in secondary education.  Many schools are conducting themselves as if their principal function is to produce a supply of...

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Why Cricket Needs a Balance Between Bat and Ball

Posted Wednesday, 12 July 2017

The National Curriculum mops up a range of games under the generic title "Striking and Fielding".  In its search for simplification, it omits the other crucial component of these games - bowling.  Once that is included within the definition, then one game separates itself from the others in the category.  That game is Cricket.

Other games have in common a single factor: the batsman attempts to hit every ball delivered as far as possible.  Every shot is an attacking shot and the aim of each batting attempt is to despatch the ball as far as possible.  That is how Cricket has been different for two hundred years.

The soul of Cricket is the balance between bat and ball.  The endlessly subtle combinations which cause the balance of power to shift constantly, reflecting the age and state of the ball, the nature of the pitch, the length of the...

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Can you Coach Creativity?

Posted Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Everyone loves creative players.  They are the ones who light up sport, provide the wow, the priceless, memorable moments.  The flashes of genius that win the game.  They are so important to sport, both the results and the beauty that underlies it.  They are the household names.  They are memorable. They are disproportionately important.

It would be logical therefore, if the development of creativity dominated the debate regarding sports coaching. In schools, clubs and National Governing Bodies. Creativity has everything: effectiveness, desirability, inspiration.  But little attention.

Much coaching is aimed at the average player.  Drills, practices, coaching activities and games are dominated by fixed outcomes.  Everyone does the same thing most of the time.  Follow the same cones, run in the same patterns, pass the ball with...

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