Should kids compete, or just have fun?
Posted by Dean Holden at June 2nd, 2013
by Natasha Bitta, 29 May 2013
KIDS’ sport is too elitist and competitive, the Australian Sports Commission warns in a report that urges clubs to “make it fun” for poor performers.
Federal Sports Minister Kate Lundy has suggested that clubs replace traditional drill training with games.
She said that “kids just want to have fun”.
“This research tells us that older kids often see sports clubs as competitive and overly focused on performance,” she said.
“Kids will leave club-based sport if they stop enjoying themselves.” The ASC called on clubs to “promote equality regardless of skill level”, and avoid “overt competitiveness”.
“There needs to be a focus on ease of ‘entry’ in terms of ensuring everyone feels they can join regardless of skill level or motivation,” its report says.
“The underlying motivation for participating in sport is to have fun and socialise.”
“Life’s not like that, where everyone wins a prize,” he said.
“Drills are essential for improving technique, and if you haven’t got a good technique you’re never going to be good at anything.
“How you bend the tree, that’s how it’s going to grow.”
Mr Lawrence, whose club of champions includes Tracey Wickham and Duncan Armstrong, said kids could not “just muck around”.
“The best coaches are the ones who make it fun to go to training regardless of how good you are,” he said.
“That little tubby kid might be a six-foot-six physical specimen once they’ve gone through puberty so it is very important that sport is fun for kids.
“But there has got to be a certain amount of discipline. They just can’t go to sport to muck around.
“If you didn’t push off properly, come back and do it again.”
The ASC report says some children and parents felt clubs put too much focus on “elitism and performance”.
“There was a consistent feeling that this results in the preferential treatment of more talented and dedicated athletes who are prioritised above the broader base, leaving some feeling less encouraged or inclined to continue,” it says.
The ASC’s head of research, Paul Fairweather, said children often joined clubs to be with their friends.
But when the clubs started sorting teams by ability, “they break up the friendship groups”.
“When you start grading people, the people in the higher grade get treated better than those in the lower grade,” he said. “That’s when they start to drop out”.
Mr Fairweather said the ASC was promoting a “play for life” coaching technique, which relies less on drills.
“It’s about teaching skills through games, rather than drills, so no matter how good or bad you are everyone gets game time,” he said.
The ASC study found that half the nation’s primary school kids belong to a sporting club.