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The Simple Mathematics of Sports Coaching

Posted Thursday, 19 April 2018

Sports coaching has always had a dilemma.  Is its aim to achieve Stakhanovite efficiency and maximise chance of victory through the elimination of error? Winning ugly. Or is it about creativity and enterprise? The latter brings with it risk, and inevitable error, and sometimes these lead to defeat.  Winning beautifully? But risking losing carelessly. 

The truth is that efficiency and adventure are inextricably related.  High performance is a product of both, but to differing degrees.  Perhaps the formula might be:

Performance = Efficiency x Adventure

The significance is in the relationship.  These commodities do not add together. They multiply.  This means three things.  Firstly, there is the capacity to favour one above the other.  Secondly, the really high performances come from high levels of both.  But finally, if the level of either dimension is nil, then...

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Helping pupils deal with significant personal disappointments in their sport

Posted Friday, 16 March 2018

Article written by:  Mark Burley, Director of Sport, Canford School, Feb 2018

Within the sporting experience of adolescents there are certain events that occur which might well lead to additional stress and emotional upheaval. Teachers and coaches should be aware of occurrences such as significant injuries, de-selection and exits from teams that can, without appropriate support, potentially, lead to increased mental health concerns.

A player not gaining selection for regional, national or professional academy squads can be, in their eyes, seen as a very public failure. This can ultimately affect not just upon the very identity of the individual but also their academic performance too. If the adolescent has framed their own personal identity around their sporting progress then being dropped from a high profile squad can detrimentally affect...

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There's not much Competition without Collaboration

Posted Monday, 26 February 2018

Most schools appear to have a substantial programme of competition. Fixtures against other schools, local and national tournaments, house matches: competition appears to be at the heart of much school sport.

Closer consideration, however, reveals that most of what appears to be competition between schools is actually a collaboration between teachers to create the best experience for pupils.  Certainly, there are some contests which are about raw competition - the later rounds of national championships, and the games between the highest performing schools.  But these are a minority.  The aim of most contests is competitiveness, rather than competition.  And there is a considerable difference between these. 

Most schools, and most teachers, recognise the bigger picture of sport in education.  In an environment where team sports are under threat, there is - more than ever...

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There’s not much Competition without Collaboration in School Sport

Posted Wednesday, 21 February 2018

Most schools appear to have a substantial programme of competition. Fixtures against other schools, local and national tournaments, house matches: competition appears to be at the heart of much school sport.

Closer consideration, however, reveals that most of what appears to be competition between schools is actually a collaboration between teachers to create the best experience for pupils.  Certainly, there are some contests which are about raw competition - the later rounds of national championships, and the games between the highest performing schools.  But these are a minority.  The aim of most contests is competitiveness, rather than competition.  And there is a considerable difference between these. 

Most schools, and most teachers, recognise the bigger picture of sport in education.  In an environment where team sports are under threat, there is - more than ever...

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Why do we try to fit so much into the Boys' Spring Term?

Posted Friday, 16 February 2018

If school terms had to be arranged in rank order of attractiveness, the Spring Term would be third, by some distance, for most teachers, parents and pupils.  It starts in the worst weather of the year, when it is dark by 4.00pm.  It is regularly cold and wet, with frequent disruption when the weather crosses the boundary from unpleasant to impossible.  “What can we do this afternoon?”, and “Will the game be on?” are the daily chorus.

This unsatisfactory background is the one chosen for the most intricate, and extensive, sports programme that most schools run.  This is especially the case for boys.  Fewer schools now play two winter terms of the same sport.  A second term of rugby has been replaced by another spring term sport, and those schools who used to base their Spring Term programme around boys’ hockey have now found that pressure on artificial pitch time has required...

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Is there enough P in PE ?

Posted Wednesday, 29 November 2017

When PT was first introduced into schools, its purpose was clear and unequivocal.  It was to provide exercise in order to improve health.  To combat diseases prevalent in poverty, and to raise standards of fitness, often primarily for military service.  It might have been a limited programme, with some fairly uninspiring content and delivery mechanisms - but its rationale was clear.  Exercise improves health.  And that's a good thing.

The industry of Physical Education, however, complicated this issue.  It added other success criteria, including acquiring sports skills and developing personal qualities.  All of these impacted upon delivery.  Broadly, they led to more teacher talk, and breaks in physical activity for explanations.  “Teaching Points” defined lesson quality.  Lesson plans established a prescription, which, if accurately administered, fostered more skillful...

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