5 Benefits of Being a Sportball Kid
There are no shortage of grassroot or community-based organizations that set out to offer positive sport and physical activity experiences to young children and youth. Subsequently, there is a higher expectation than ever before to ensure that programs offer quality and impactful programming to the many registered children and families. At Sportball, we set ourselves apart from our competitors because we believe in life-long learning – we are always striving to innovate and improve. Since our inaugural 1995 year, thousands of children have come through our doors and left with the confidence to lead healthy, active lifestyles. The following article will summarize five of the many reasons that we feel Sportball is a leader among competitor sport organizations, offering a unique experience to families with young children between 16 months and 12 years of age. The 5 main Benefits of Being a Sportball Kid include our programs ability to offer:
- Age-Appropriate Programming
- Well-Trained Coaches who Love Working with Kids
- Regular and Ongoing Program Evaluation
- Leading Multi-Sport Programming
- Advanced Preparation for School and for Life
At Sportball, fundamental movement and sport-skills are taught through breaking down elements into their simplest form, using age-appropriate storylines. For instance, soccer balls are rocket ships that children can launch into outer space by kicking, and pylons are volcanos that children must dodge by controlling the path and direction of their ball. Creative storylines captivate children’s imaginations, and reduce the anxiety that accompanies entering a new environment and trying new things. Sportball also cultivates a non-competitive learning environment, where individual improvement is valued over perfection, and children are not compared or overshadowed by their peers – ultimately enhancing children’s confidence in their skills and abilities. Sportball is proud to hold partnerships with both the University of Toronto’s Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy Department, as well as the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario, ensuring that each class is routed in pediatric research, and aligns with the abilities of children at key developmental age milestones. This also means modified age-appropriate equipment is sourced and used to suit the needs of our youngest sport participants.
Well-Trained Coaches who Love Working with Kids
In order to implement our uniquely-structured methodology, we know that coaches must be given the proper tools and education, and they must genuinely enjoy engaging and working with young children. At Sportball, we implement a rigorous coach certification program that is comprised of four progressive levels of coaching, each designed to provide opportunities for our coaches to grow, lead, and contribute during their time with Sportball. Our coach certification program transitions coaches from being New, through to Leader, Mentor, and finally Master Level coaches who have years of experience. Combined, these coaches have hundreds of hours of in-house and on the field training and mentorship. Coaches also participate in workshops at the start of their training, and throughout their time at Sportball. These workshops are designed to teach Sportball’s Methodology, classroom management techniques, and best delivery practices with children between 16 months and 12 years, to name a few.
Regular and Ongoing Program Evaluation
In-line with our coach training, we regularly evaluate the program delivery at individual sport contexts – providing additional support to coaches when needed. At an organization level, we continuously strive to improve and develop our curricula, ensuring that our methodology and program offerings are in-line with current sport and exercise psychology research findings. This is made possible through on-going collaboration with leading Canadian research institutions including the University of Toronto, York University, and the University of Ottawa. This is also demonstrated by our efforts to expand our program offerings to children with unique developmental, physical, or cognitive abilities. For instance, we recently partnered with a PhD student at the University of Ottawa to examine how our Multi-Sport programs may be modified to meet the needs of children with cardiac health impairments.
Leading Multi-Sport Programming
In line with recent research, Sportball also offers Multi-Sport classes, a novel type of sport programming that offers exposure to a variety of sports under one roof . At Sportball, each Multi-Sport class focuses on one of eight ball sports, ranging from Soccer, Baseball, Basketball, Football, Hockey, Volleyball, Golf, to Tennis. Through taking Multi-Sport classes, children become Physically Literate in eight different sports, giving them an advantage over their single sport-specializing peers. Gaining early exposure to a variety of sports (in contrast to just one or two), can not only decrease the chance of injury or dropout associated with single sport participation over time, but early diversification in sport is associated with a host of other benefits1 . Sportball’s Multi-Sport programs also utilize a progressive skill development format, whereby complex sport-specific skills are only taught once necessary foundational skills are established.
Advanced Preparation for School and For Life!
Last but not least, Sportball is beneficial for young children because of our implementation of Coaching with Purpose – whereby every skill, game, and instruction by coaches has an underlying purpose and anticipated outcome. These outcomes can be summarized as the development of children’s gross motor skills, sport skills, and social or life-skills. Sportball kids begin to learn and gain confidence in their Physically Literacy skills from the moment they begin classes (as early as 16 months), which may equipped children for many of the sports they will inevitably face in physical education classes. Additionally, working with our coaches at Sportball may help children adjust to being in a regulated classroom environment, and taking direction from a non-parent adult. Engaging with other children from a young age at Sportball may also teach children valuable social skills that they can apply in the classroom and in life, such as taking turns, raising one’s hand, and the value of effort over perfection. Starting full- day kindergarten or grade school can be very daunting – so enrolling your child into one of our Sportball classes may ease the transition for your developing child. Visit us at www.sportball.ca to learn more about program offerings in your area unique to your child’s current age and developmental needs.
1DiFiori, J. P., Güllich, A., Brenner, J. S., Côté, J., Hainline, B., Ryan, E., & Malina, R. M. (2018). The NBA and Youth Basketball: Recommendations for Promoting a Healthy and Positive Experience. Sports Medicine, 2053-2065.
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