Sport for enjoyment

As a coach, it is important to spend time reflecting and learning from the past- take the positives and work towards improving areas of weakness. Whilst reflecting, it always saddens me to realise how few of our wonderful athletes are competing all the way through school and enjoying the amazing opportunities available to senior athletes.

Nationally, and around the world, there are more young people with overuse injuries or suffering from burnout than ever before. Where sport used to be perceived as a release from the stresses of life, more and more young athletes struggle with anxiety and depression due to the pressures they feel from their chosen sport or sports.

Did you know that around 70% of kids leave organized sports by the age of 13? There are so many reasons for this, and over the years, it proves increasingly difficult to ‘just play sport’. Reasons include; the subjective media circus surrounding young ‘superstars’; specialist coaches claiming that they offer more than anyone else can; performance enhancing substances and parental interest and influences.

Perhaps people today forget the definition of the term, ‘success’. Could this help to explain why we can no longer ‘just play?’ I love quotes and this one is very fitting;

"Success is the peace of mind, which is the direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you made the effort to do your best to become the best that you are capable of becoming." (John Wooden)

Unquantifiable words, feelings, not a direct result of winning or scoring goals, or by running the fastest. Instead, success is measured by enjoyment, well-being and peace of mind.

What are we trying to achieve through our school sports? We are trying to develop well rounded, social, emotional human beings that are able to express themselves through sport. We are trying to encourage our students to continue participating throughout the most important sporting development phase in their lives. Yes, we want to win championships, but process always has to come before outcome. One of the first issues we face in youth sports today is that outcomes, wins, and championships confuse what our goals should be for our students.

John Wooden's statement on success focuses on learning to do your best and experience the peace of mind or sense of achievement, self fulfilment, that gives a person. It has nothing to do with winning a championship or some arbitrary standard of excellence.

Last year I was proud of all the sporting successes that each and every student achieved, but more so of the development they had gone through. I know how difficult it is to take part when such high standards are expected in the classroom. As we begin the new school year, I hope to see our students moving through BPS continuing to benefit from the mental, physical and social benefits sport has to offer.

If you would like further information on this, or any other topic, please get in touch and it could become the topic for my next post. 

Coach Rich

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