Coaching for life

It’s not long now and you may be one of the lucky ones to have an event ticket. Yes, the London 2012 Olympics is only a hop, skip and jump away. In the run up to next year, BT is joining in the excitement by encouraging children to learn and develop their skills through active play. The Coaching for Life (CfL) programme encourages parents, grandparents and older siblings to develop their coaching skills by engaging children in games and sporting activities. It’s one of three education programmes BT is running as a London 2012 sustainability partner.

Coaching for Life is aimed at 6-11 year olds and it includes a dozen free games to enjoy. Many of the games will be familiar to you as a seasoned primary teacher, but it’s likely they will be fairly new to mums, dads and carers. The videos on offer show you how to play the games and there are downloadable instructions too, along with a resource pack full of coaching tips. I think the videos are excellent. They show you a game being played out and they are just long enough to inspire you to give it a go yourself. All the games are tried and tested favourites and include games such as non-stop cricket, team tag, two touch football, mini-hockey and capture cones. The activities are fun to watch but even better to play and it would make perfect sense to show the videos to children before taking part so they have an idea about what to do. The games are all easy to set up, simple to organise and can be adapted to suit the children playing. The videos are available as a free mobile app too, which is a nice touch.

At the heart of these resources are some sound principles about making the most of children’s talents, teaching cooperation and teamwork, learning how to be a good sport, respecting differences and always trying your hardest. Some of the key messages of Coaching for Life include giving children plenty of genuine praise that is descriptive and specific, explaining things clearly, fitting a game to a child, being a good listener, offering endless enthusiasm and avoiding shouting! The number one message has to be about having fun. As the saying goes, if you take the fun out of the sport, then you’ll take the sport out of the child.

The only concern I can flag up is that the coaching tips offered might be translated as coaching tips on how to be a good parent. It’s well meaning, but there will always be parents who won’t thank BT for interfering.

Our Verdict

Good sport

Point parents in the direction of this online resource and they will enjoy the opportunity to introduce their children to new games, ably supported by some excellent video demonstrations. The accompanying coaching tips will help them to make the most of their child’s talents, encouraging a healthy attitude to sport against the backdrop of the upcoming Olympics.

Pie Corbett