Both practitioners and researchers supporting Good Sports agree that issues in children’s sport, such as poor side-line behaviour, early onset of overuse injury, and burnout and disaffection with sport, stem from adult involvement in children’s sport and can ultimately hinder success on and off the field. To address these issues and give Kiwi kids the greatest chance of developing a lifelong love of sport Good Sports believes we need to raise adults’ awareness about their behaviours in children’s sport and if necessary, promote a positive shift in that behaviour.
In 2018 Good Sports was integrated into Auckland University’s Coaching degree. Auckland resident La-Chey Meredith, who is completing this degree was one of the students in the class. Since then La-Chey has attended a Good Sports Developers Course at AUT Millennium. This has resulted in her delivering the initiative back to her peers at Auckland University.
Here La Chey shares her story and explains how Good Sports has impacted her coaching journey.
How did you become involved in coaching?
Coaching never really crossed my mind until four years ago when I was approached by the St. Cuthbert’s Sports Co-ordinator. They needed a coach for their year 6 netball team and were given my details by one of my high school coaches. I agreed to it because, although I had quit playing netball two years prior, I still had a love for the game.
What were your initial views on coaching? (prior to Good Sports)
Prior to Good Sports, coaching to me was strictly a climate of performance. There was no such thing as a climate of development. What the coach says goes. It was very hierarchical in a sense.
I never played for social teams and netball wasn’t a seasonal sport for me; it was all-year-round. All the coaches I experienced coached in a climate of performance and that was what I was used to. The focus would be on results, repetitive drills were the norm, coaches would only play their favourites/the strongest which meant that the same girls would bench nearly every game, and there was strict adult control. This was all very normal to me which is why I would coach my netball girls in a climate of performance without questioning my methods.
Based on my experience, I believed that this was how coaches were ‘supposed’ to coach.
What is your experience/views on Good Sports?
I believe that Good Sports is making positive changes to youth sports. Making these positive changes through targeting adults who have an impact on kids’ lives is something I found myself getting on board with quite quickly.
In my experience, I think many adults have been coached in a climate of performance so they don’t know any better and don’t know that the climate of development even exists.
I believe that Good Sports educates these adults; not only for their sake, but also for the sake of the children who want to play sport and truly enjoy it.
What are your views on coaching after your Good Sports experience?
My views on coaching after my Good Sports experience has completely changed. I have now shifted myself from being a coach in a climate of performance to a coach in a climate of development.
I do sometimes find myself shifting towards a climate of performance but the moment it happens I try my best to pull myself back. Since my Good Sports experience, I am now always conscious of the way I am coaching. I find it works really well with school kids and I can see (now) that they enjoy the sport more. It also made me think back to my own sporting experience and how I wished I had coaches who coached in a climate of development because maybe I would still be playing netball today.
How do you think Good Sports impacts coaching?
Not only does Good Sports help with developing a positive relationship and a positive culture within my netball team, it also helped me with my own mentality as a coach. I no longer feel anxious or stressed over small things anymore such as the girls not doing exactly what I told them to do, someone dropping the ball, worrying about the same girls not getting game time, or even stressing over winning. Now that I am aware of Good Sports, my primary focus is on the development of my girls and how much effort they put into their trainings and their games. Recently, we lost a game by just three points, but I wasn’t mad and neither were the girls in my team. I could see how hard they were playing. They all played well and they all came off the court with smiles saying it was a good game and I agreed. That ended up being our only loss and we came top of our grade.
Any other thoughts?
I believe that Good Sports is on the right track and I feel as though I finally know what I want to do once I graduate. I’m glad to have had the Good Sports experience and hope that this changes the future of sport. I believe that more coaches, parents, teachers and anyone who has an influence on children’s sport would benefit hugely by understanding the Good Sports Spine.