We were delighted recently to be invited by 5 young men to Lisdoonvarna, to hear about a piece of research that they have carried out as part of a Community Games Project. These primary school researchers gave a very interesting presentation entitled ‘Make Sport Fun for Everyone’.  It was a thought provoking children’s perspective on what adults perceive fun coaching to be.

 Have a think about these few questions.

  • Hands up here who coaches and who knows what makes sport fun for children?
  • Hands up here who shouts at their participants in a negative fashion?
  • Hands up here who thinks winning a trophy is the most important outcome for underage team sport?
  • Hands up here who allows their training / game sessions to exclude the ‘weaker’ player by not allowing a system where everyone plays / passes the ball to each other?
  • Hands up here of those of us that use complicated or technical language to explain a play or skill?
  • Hands up here who thinks that children’s sport is the same adult sport?
  • Hands up here who have witnessed children leaving a sport due to an un-explained reason?

These questions are the derived from the responses that the children presented to us. The responses are the reasons that children do not enjoy sport.

Clubs, parents and coaches have a responsibility to ensure that they make sport fun for EVERYONE, and not just those that are highly skilled, if you want them to have a lifelong involvement. If the environment is negative or perceived as negative, well I’ve got a bit of bad news for you – you may struggle for numbers into the future, as a fair portion of the children will leave! Some research tells us that up to 70% will drop out from sport in their teenage years. Just think about that, 70%. That’s a big hit for a sport that may have low numbers anyway.

So Parent / Coach, what are you going to do? Do you need to change your methods / thinking in order to ensure that the coaching environment that you have created is fun, fair, positive and appropriate to the children your are coaching? Have you ever asked them their opinion?

Finally, to the young men from Lisdoonvarna, thank you for your important research. Hopefully your voice may help to change the way coaching is thought about into the future.