Participation in sports and physical activity continues to decline among young people, yet we know there are many health, educational, social and psychological benefits to ongoing participation.
1. ASK KIDS & TEENS WHAT Sports THEY WANT
Children are not mini-adults and we should not treat them as such. By asking them what they want, we are treating them with RESPECT and empowering them to create an experience that will keep them coming back. Coaches ask for constructive feedback at the end of each class to identify what participants liked about the program and what could be better (and how).
2. REINTRODUCE FREE PLAY
When many of us were young, we played sports and games outside with our friends all of the time. Today, free play is virtually non-existent, replaced with organized sports—that often carry a hefty price tag—for kids at very young ages. Our coaches use a games-approach to create activities with a specific purpose.
3. ENCOURAGE SPORT SAMPLING
Parents should provide opportunities for their children to participate in as many sports and activities as possible. Sport sampling, particularly for kids 12 years old and younger, is important for the development of fundamental movement skills (FMS) as well as a reduction in sports-related injury and burnout in the teenage and young adult years.
4. DESIGN (PROGRAMS) FOR DEVELOPMENT
The First Tee Life Skills Experience is a progressive and developmentally-appropriate curriculum designed for young people to start at the TARGET level at ages 5–6, and then progress through the Ace level prior to high school graduation.
5. TRAIN ALL COACHES
Over the years, significant evidence exists in youth development literature to indicate a strong, positive correlation between the relationship with coaches and positive participant outcomes, such as coming back to class and reaching goals. There is also evidence that participants who played for trained coaches are less likely to quit the sport than those who played for untrained coaches. Our coaches are trained through our coach program and follow our coaching philosophy.
by Beth Brown, Ph.D., LPGA Member
Managing Director, Chapter Programs & Research
The First Tee
1 State of Play 2016, Trends & Developments; The Aspen Institute Project Play.
2 The games approach is described in, for example, Thorpe, R., Bunker, D., & Almond, L (Eds.). (1986). Rethinking games teaching, and Griffin, L., & Butler, J. (Eds). (2005). Teaching games for understanding, Human Kinetics: Champaign, IL.