What impacts children’s learning in sports?

Every single child is unique; therefore, we cannot take a “one size fits all” approach when working with children. In order to optimise each child’s development, coaches must adapt their methods for the different children they work with. In order to prepare for this, first a coach must understand the different ways children learn.

Learning Styles

Research has found that there are three main types of learners among children. These are Auditory, Visual and Kinaesthetic.

Auditory learners learn through listening to others and discussing what they are being taught. Therefore, it is imperative as a coach to be able to fully explain the technical points of the skills delivered.

Visual learners, which is believed to be the most dominant learning style, need to see what is being taught to them. They are able to remember the key details of visual demonstrations and are then able to replicate them. Thus, a coach must be able to demonstrate the technical skills taught within the lesson, to the correct standard, in order for these children to learn.

Kinaesthetic learners need to be actively involved within the learning process. Therefore, they are very hands-on in their approach to learning. These learners aren’t able to fully understand the technical points unless they are doing the skill themselves, hence a coach must be able to correct and provide feedback during the session for these children in order for them to learn during actively performing the skill.

Being adaptable and prepared prior to every single session is paramount in order to accommodate the three learning styles. As time passes, a coach should be familiarised with which style each child responds best to. This will then make it easier for the coach to pinpoint their attention to certain groups of children at different points within the session. By adjusting the teaching style to accommodate for these three-learning styles will optimise children’s long-term development. However, there are other factors which can impact a child’s learning in sports.

Growth and Maturation

Growth is defined as observable and measurable changes in body size. Whilst, maturation is defined as qualitative and structural changes towards the adult state. The timing and tempo of maturation can vary tremendously between children of the same chronological age. This creates the relative age effect. The relative age effect, is the actual age difference biologically between two children. This difference in biological age can impact sports and physical capabilities tremendously.

An early maturing child will be bigger, stronger and quicker compared to a late maturing child within the same age group. For example, two 10-year-old boys may have the biological ages of a 12 years old (early maturer) and an 8-year-old (late maturer). Therefore, the difference in biological age is actually 4 years even though they are both 10 years old. This will mean the early maturing child who is biologically older will often have more success in sports, due to their physical advantage.

What does this mean?

Meaning early maturing children will stand out more, grow in confidence, and have more opportunities than the later maturing child. Causing later maturing children to drop out of sports and lose the desire to play. On the other hand, the success for early maturing children is mainly due to physical attributes, which may neglect the development of technical capabilities. Thus, on both sides the learning of these children can be hindered.

In order to optimise the learning within sports of children in the same age group, their growth and maturation must be taken into account. Grouping children with peers who are of similar physical capabilities is essential in order for greater development of technical skills within the sport. A coach must also know which children may require more positive reinforcement in order to boost desire for continued participation, even though they may struggle to compete physically. Using positive reinforcement effectively is one of many important qualities in a children’s sports coach.

The Coach

The coach will determine a child’s perception and relationship with sports. The environment created by the coach will impact their desire to participate now and in the future. Consequently, too many children drop out sports due to poor coaching standards. There are some key qualities that children need from a sports coach. These include being fun, positive, engaging, enthusiastic and energetic.

This will help to build a strong relationship between the child, coach and the sport itself. By doing so the child will be excited to attend lessons, creating a positive environment for learning. In order to gain continued development within the children coached, the key qualities detailed must be learning orientated. We at Boom Sports only recruit the best coaches, that display these key qualities, in order to ensure this is the case.

To Conclude

In order to positively impact children’s learning in sports each child needs to be looked at as an individual. Individuals will respond differently to certain teaching styles and learning environments. Therefore, in order to maximise the long-term development of every child coached, and retain participation, the key factors above must be taken into account.

Across all our sports coaching and childcare services Boom Sorts strives to do just that. To find out more information on our holiday camps, parties, and primary school sports coaching give us a call on 020-8226-5450 or email at [email protected]