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A community sports project aims at increasing participation in a particular sport through nurturing talent and making playing the sport enjoyable for young people. These projects are carried out by sports coaches who provide quality coaching and physical activities for the children.
The project I was involved in was coaching football to teenagers between the ages of 16 and 17 years at Barking Football Club. My experience coaching the teenagers was very helpful as I got to work on my weaknesses and utilize my strengths. Before the project, I did not have a lot of confidence speaking to kids. Each practice session was four hours long where I had to talking to the kids giving them instructions on what to do and addressing any concerns they had. This made me converse with the teenagers a lot and I got to develop my communication skills with children. I also had the chance to use my strengths of joining in the training sessions with the kids, interacting further with the kids in a more enjoyable manner making my coaching duties easier. I did not just dictate drills and exercises but demonstrated them enabling the teenagers grasp them faster.
Contemporary Issues in Coaching Community Based Sports Projects
Coaches coaching community based sports programs for youths face various challenges in dispensing their services. This is because these programs involve coaching teenagers of different genders from various ethnicities and socioeconomic economic class. These challenges have to be addressed in order to realize the benefits of the community based sports projects. Some of the key contemporary issues that are associated with the programs include health and safety, parental involvement, understanding of demographics, and legal issues.
Health and Safety
All athletes participating in sports activities are at risk of suffering an injury. Increased participation of youth in sports has resulted to an increase in the number of injuries suffered by athletes between the aged between five and nineteen years. Approximately 48% of youth engaging in sports activities suffer from at least a single injury every year. Understanding the issues that contribute to this fact is critical in finding ways of preventing these injuries. Injuries mostly occur in youth due to the rapid bone expansion and slow muscle elongation. This leads to the development of tension across the growth plates and the joints placing them at potential risk of injury. Also, during the adolescent stage some athletes may experience decreased flexibility, balance and coordination. This also further increases the chances of suffering from injuries. The injuries can be prevented or reduced by adjusting the coaching strategies to fit the youth and prevent any training errors that could lead to injuries. Other ways of preventing the injuries include proper nutrition and physical fitness.
Children also suffering from various health conditions should not be allowed to get involved in sports activities because it may be dangerous for them or other. Health issues that may be dangerous to the athlete suffering from them may include heart abnormalities and asthma. Other conditions that may be harmful to the other children participating in the program include contagious diseases such as skin infections. Bleeding children should also not be allowed to participate in the program until the bleeding is treated.
Before the beginning of every practice session, the athletes should be asked to remove any jewelry or other items that may cause injury. Proper sport specific warm-up and stretching should also be carried out under the coach’s supervision to minimize injuries.
Parents’ role in determining the sports experience of a child may vary from being just a driver to and from practice sessions or being fully involved in a child’s sporting life. Research shows that a parent plays a major role in affecting young athlete’s sports motivation, perceived competence and emotion. The behavior of a parent has a direct impact on how long a child will be remain interested in a sport. The emphasis of a parent of on certain aspect of the sport be it winning, skill development, or enjoyment will have a strong impact on what a teenager deems as success in sports. As such, parents who put a lot of emphasis on winning may inadvertently cause stress and anxiety to their children. Children who cannot meet their parents’ expectations may lose confidence and seek other alternative ways of having fun. This problem can be dealt with by a coach explicitly telling parents how much effect their behavior has on the children and what is expected of them so as not to make the children lose interest in the sport.
Understanding the Community Demographics
Different youth have different reasons for engaging in sports activities, it is important to understand the different motives of children’s involvement in sporting activities to understand how to deal with them. Research shows that regardless of gender, the most important reason for youth to participate in sports is to have fun. Teenagers who also feel competent about their physical abilities have been found to prefer engaging in sports activities and maintain the activity as opposed to teenagers who feel less competent.
Studies also show that minorities are less likely to participate in school or agency-based sports programs though they participate more in school programs than agency sponsored programs. More males than females participate in both types of programs regardless of race. It was also found that around the adolescent ages was the time that most children dropped out of sports, either completely or to engage in other sports. Although athletes cited different reasons for discontinuing their sporting activities, the most interesting factor was leadership. The youth blamed coaches for emphasizing too much on competition that they did not get a chance to play or learn the appropriate skills. Most minorities gave too much emphasis on winning, time to study and ineffective coaching as the reason why they quit sports. More boys than girls cited the win loss record as the reason for discontinuing sport activities. Also females reported the social aspects of sports and both physical and emotional trauma as the reason for their decision.
Understanding how personal and social factors interplay with each other to influence the decisions of different youths will help in designing a program that will focus on sustaining their participation and involvement. For example, girls training sessions should not be strenuous, should mostly be fun with very little competition involved.
For one to be considered a coach in England, one must complete at least Level 1 Award in Coaching Football or Level 2 Certificate in Coaching Football depending on one’s experience. Both of the qualifications are given by the Football Association with Level I being suitable for people without any experience in coaching football and introduce one to the coaching theory basics. Level 2 is appropriate for a person with a little experience in coaching and in playing or coaching. This level teaches one how to plan, conduct and assess training sessions using different coaching techniques.
Most sport governing bodies in England have made it mandatory for any coaches dealing with children under the age of 18 years to have to be subjected Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS). The DBS checks were formally known as Criminal Records Bureau checks and are meant to protect the young children from interacting with people with criminal history. The Football Association has also followed suit and made DBS checks mandatory for coaches dealing with youth and children under 18 years of age.
Dealing with Challenging Behaviors in Youth
Dealing with some teenagers may be very difficult especially the troublesome ones who do not listen to anyone. In a practice session, a coach might encounter a child who is always talking while the coach is talking, constantly interrupting practice, mocks the coach or other player, is not interested in the drills, or is always joking around. This type of behavior is contagious and if not dealt with can ruin your practice.
Most coaches in community based sports programs do not have a say in the selection of children who will join their projects. This makes it hard to do away with the troublesome kids. The only way of dealing with this behavior is having the children understand that there is limited time to conduct practice sessions and the ability of a coach to develop them is largely dependent on their cooperation. Another way of dealing with the issue is shepherding the children wherever the coach wants them to go, and running drills and exercises concurrently minimizing any down time. This will ensure that every child is involved in the activities with no time for them to be a nuisance.
Positive Impacts of Community Sports Projects
The benefits that adolescents can get from participating in sports activities are many. The sporting activities entail vigorous physical activities involving energy expenditure. It is estimated that children born after the year 2000 will encounter obesity at one point in their lives. This is because of habits that are seen among children today. A recent study showed that only 50% of children engage in regular exercises and only 8% of adolescents met the required met the recommended daily physical exercise. Also, children have been found to eat more snacks in the past 35 years. Engaging in physical activities will help reduce the current number of obesity cases in children.
Engaging in these community programs has also been associated with promoting social cohesion among the youth. Research shows that sports plays a crucial role in enhancing participants’ connection to the the wider community. This is because in these projects, children learn to listen to interactions, interact with each other, and develop team work.
The Center for Disease Control reported that suicide was among the leading causes of death among adolescents in America. Research carried out by the organization also showed that participation in sports activities by adolescents of both genders showed a significant reduction in suicidal thoughts among the group. This is because the engaging in such activities provided social acceptance making them feel part of a group. This reduced the feeling of hopelessness and consequently reduced the suicidal tendencies.
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