Coaching Association of Canada

FMS – The missing link in coach education

June 6, 2011

About seven years ago I heard a talk about the Canadian Sport for Life Model and I was sold. At last a Canadian sport philosophy that would not only help our elite athletes but all Canadians. As an educator in the secondary school system and as a parent of two young children, the part of the model that resonated with me the most was the FUNdamentals stage. I resonated with the fact that children need to learn how to run, kick, strike, throw, jump and catch (to name a few of the fundamental movement skills) before they can advance to fundamental sport skills such as how to throw a basketball or a football. The NCCP Fundamental Movement Skills program was developed out of this philosophy and I am fortunate to be able to facilitate this course.

I began by teaching it to my grade twelve students and then having them teach or coach at the elementary schools. This was a powerful experience for the students. Then I began to speak, facilitate and deliver the course across the country with many other excellent facilitators and educators. Everywhere we went, the response was the same -- this is what has been missing in coach education.

As a mother, who is often travelling or in meetings when the field trips or parent council meetings come up, I struggled to find ways to help out in my own community. I therefore decided to offer to train the teachers at my children’s school as my way of giving back. At first I was unsure if anyone would come, but the staff at Lincoln Heights Public School in Waterloo, Ont. rose to the occasion and almost all the teaching staff were present for the three hour professional development module. After teaching all day, tired from a busy week, they stayed to learn, grow, and be open to how to observe fundamental movement skills in primary school-aged children. I was very impressed with their dedication and willingness to learn. They had great discussions, created games and talked about how to apply this at their school.

Because of the support of the school we decided to film the supplemental teaching aid we are now developing for FMS at the school. First, I went to the school to observe the fundamental movement skills of the children. After a full day of observing over 160 primary students, I was amazed, shocked and startled. It was at that moment that I realized, more than ever before, how lacking our students are in fundamental movement skills. The stereotypical “athletic kids” may be able to throw and catch but may not be able to jump or strike; the stereotypical “unathletic” student had a great ability to throw but it was not encouraged and many students overall lacked all the fundamental movement skills. This is not the fault of our teachers but of our system in general. We either begin children in sports at such an early age that they learn to play just hockey or just basketball instead of learning multi-sport or fundamental movement skills -- or they have no experience at all.

In Ontario, and many other provinces, we no longer value specialists at the primary level where they are perhaps the most needed. All students go to school so it should be the ideal place to teach and improve fundamental movement skills which ultimately would decrease obesity and give children the confidence to have the choice to continue on to be active for life. Unfortunately, teachers need the training to know how to do that and it simply is not offered. Physical Education often takes a back seat to English or Math when physical literacy is equally important. Many consultant positions in this subject area have been removed and therefore teachers do not know what to look for to help students improve these basic building blocks. Luckily the teachers at Lincoln Heights valued the opportunity to seek training on their own.

Before filming I went back to work with the students. It was amazing how quickly their skills improved. I realized that practicing the fundamental movements is not enough; the leader must know what to look for in order to help the children improve. In two short, 45 minute classes, focusing on fundamental movement skills that were age and stage appropriate, the students began to improve their skills. It felt great to work in my own community, and also to create a resource that will hopefully aid educators, coaches and leader of youth so our students have the choice to be active for life. We look forward to the new resource coming out in the fall. Thank you Lincoln Heights for teaching me as much as I taught you!

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