Dr. Ian Renshaw-The child in sport. meeting their needs in early structured competition


Dr. Ian Renshaw is a Senior Lecturer at Queensland University of Technology in Brisbane, Australia.  He is a former P.E. teacher, who’s day job has been about teaching and researching sports coaching, skill acquisition and sport psychology for over 25 years now. Outside of this, Ian has coached and continues to coach a range of sports, but largely focuses on cricket coaching from 8 year olds through to adults, football and rugby union. Ian is particularity interested in developing constraint-led approaches for P.E. and coaching. Check his blog out here https://ianrensh.wordpress.com/ and follow him on twitter https://twitter.com/ianren21

I recently interviewed Ian for a book that I am completing. The main focus of the interview was “nonlinear pedagogy”. We are both of the belief that we move children to structured training and competitive programs far too early. Ian shared an experience he had with a group of 8 year old’s that he was coaching. I want to share it with you.

Structured competitions can also be restricting and can fail to meet the needs of the children. A good example for me was when I was coaching a U-8 team. We were a 6-a-side team and playing in an intra-club league (there were 8 teams in the league). Whilst most of the teams were made up of boys, on this particular day 2 out of 6 were girls. Of course this didn’t mean they were going to be a weaker team, but on this particular occasion we happened to be a stronger team. After a couple of minutes we scored and I noted how enthusiastically the other team brought the ball back to the middle for the restart. Excellent, I thought, their heads were still up and they were up for a game. However, we scored 4 more goals very quickly and after each goal you could see their heads go down further and further and the ball came back slower and slower. At half-time I spoke to the opposition coach and suggested to her that we should stop the game and mix the teams up. Her response was positive, but couched with “can we do that?” My response was that we can do what we think is best for the children. We created balanced teams and the second half scoring went something like 1-0, 1-1, 1-2, 2-2, 3-2 before finally finishing 5-4. I can’t remember which team won, but it really did not matter.

The win was for us; the smiles of the children as they dragged their tired bodies off the field.


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