As featured in Parentdish

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Playing the game

Avril and I have decided to start a new sport together. Or rather I decided, put the idea to her, and Avril being her adorable self thought it was a great idea. Let’s hope she still thinks it is a good idea a few weeks down the line.

We’ve opted for badminton, partly because it is an easy sport to get into, but also because I would like a sport we can do together, and which she can pick up at any time of her life. I am more than happy for her to do other sports, but like the idea of us leaning something new together.

But I also want her to have the right attitude to sports and to exercise – that it’s fun. Last year I went to a CPD session run by Positive Coaching Scotland. I was reporting on it as part of my job. They gave some interesting statistics. By the age of 13, between 70 and 80 per cent of children in Scotland drop out of sports. Of all these kids that are winning medals, many will give up sport all together.

The idea of the session was to educate teachers on Positive Coaching Scotland’s campaign to make sports more about enjoyment and less about winning. It’s not that winning shouldn’t be on the agenda, it’s that it shouldn’t be the only thing on the agenda.

A lot of what they said made sense, particularly when I think of people I know who were very in to sports when they were young, but who as adults do absolutely no exercise whatsoever. The desire to win can take over so much that people don’t see the point of playing for the fun of it.

I was pleased to see teachers being educated on this. A variant of this theory has been around for a long time, but appears to have been misunderstood in press reports are to be believed. There really isn’t anything wrong with a child being congratulated for winning the egg and spoon race. That is not what this is all about. What Positive Scotland Coaching are saying is – play football because you like playing the game, not because it is something to win at; take up a sport for the enjoyment it brings.

We may enjoy badminton. We may not and I may be posting about another sport in a few weeks time. But we will enjoy giving it a go.

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