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«Developing the Potential of Young People in Sport A report for sportscotland by The University of Edinburgh Developing the Potential of Young People ...»

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I was watching some of my children today running round the hall and some of them are just flat footed. Primary seven. This is shocking. But part of that are teachers not having the confidence and not knowing how to actually teach that.

A problem highlighted within PE is the pressure from targets and the curriculum. This can provide an obstacle to teachers providing the right kind of emphasis and experiences that will benefit all the children in the long term.

It's open, S1 to S6, and some of the children that you think "My goodness, you're never going to get this." And you worry about how they'll fit into the group, and they've been amazing. But then I'm not trying to get anything out of it. I'm not going to have to meet targets or my job's not on the line if I don't have so many internationalists! (Laughs). So that is not a factor, which, in teaching, is good.

Many deliverers feel the current school PE experience to be “piecemeal” and lacking in coherence and progression. Indeed, much was seen as overly sport specific and therefore likely to be too difficult for many of the children, in turn putting them off sport and activity. They saw a real need for a coherent, developmental programme for children that can provide consistent experiences that are required for effective development for all.

It's four or five years since we’ve had a specialist here. Ah yes, yes but, you know, they go to curling, and we have the rugby man in, and I think well yes, uh huh, but you know, educationally that is so flawed because after a few weeks it stops. There isn't any sort of continuity and progression. What's happening to the rest of the classes directed at Primary six or Primary five or whatever, and rest of the school, you know?

And that's where we are. I guess it's not producing a coherent theme. It's just a piecemeal.

This is not a criticism of the development officers at all, but they are sport specific and they will come and start at a particular level if you like, and the kids are not ready to learn at that level then there is nothing there to address these kids, who inevitably will fade away or behaviour becomes an issue or because they can't actually cope with what they're being asked to do.

While it was commonly expressed that the DPYPS philosophy should fit with school PE, many suggested that it currently doesn’t and furthermore, many schools don’t have any specialists at all. In the long term this needs to be resolved alongside the need to focus on the DPYPS philosophy over a more ‘traditional sport specific block’ system.

Well I think it should fit [DPYPS with school PE]. As I say, at the moment I've introduced it in a sort of partial way, but that was really at my pace. I want to take it further forward. The problem we have at the moment is we've not got any specialists in the primary schools. I'm hopeful that that will be resolved but that would be in the long term rather than the short term. I've really, I’ve felt really pleased to be part of it. As I say the sort of benefits for me have been really good, and the next stage is to look at the whole programme because I think the balance should change. I think there should be more focus on DPYPS and less on the games, gymnastics, and sport specific bit.

Coherent Application of the Philosophy is Required to Maximise Developments

Having been involved in the pilot programme for between ten weeks to one year, the general perception is that this philosophy needs to be incorporated into the big picture to ensure that as many deliverers as possible can utilise it and provide appropriate and consistent experiences to youngsters.

I just think that from our council's perspective we should just sit down and talk through how we're going to incorporate this into the existing programme, give it its place, because it definitely has a place.

I think to make that work we need to sit down with other specialists, school sports and active primary co-ordinators, development officers and just have a much more co-ordinated approach to that.

I'm struggling a bit at the moment because we've only got one active primary school co-ordinator, and also because of the way that we're working, we don't have a lot of contact with the sort of sport coordinators, and that is mainly I think, to make the whole thing much more efficient, I think we need to have a much more co-ordinated approach.

Although deliverers have noted that the philosophy and programme can act as a personal guide or ‘glue’ to fit different initiatives together, it needs to become far more explicit and systematically applied.

I've tried to incorporate it {DPYPS} in, as you know, I'm committed to the TOPS programme. So I have brought it {DPYPS} in there. I think it works really well alongside TOPS. I would say that I would use the programme but then enhance it by using some of the practices that TOPS uses.

The deliverers report the need to develop this philosophy as a more coherent and consistent message to a wider range of people in a more systematic way. However, it is also noted that the DPYPS programme is a unique and revolutionary programme that will need time and good support to continue to evolve and develop over time.

Just take the good bits and the bad bits out, and think, well, this is a good bit but how could we implement that more positively? I think people are important to everything, and getting the right people, it's not easy sometimes. But we're all different and we all bring strengths and we all bring weaknesses and I'm glad to see it and I'm glad to see that, at my stage, that there are a group of people thinking this through and thinking about the child. I think that's important. And that's never happened before. So you're unique there.

Indeed, several deliverers are reported to feel that the long term agenda also needs to be addressed and ultimately students who are yet to become teachers need to be educated in this way, so that slowly over time this kind of philosophy filters in and becomes the norm and the experiences that children receive will be more appropriate, more often, as time goes on.

You need to train the people who are the educators that this aspect is just as important as the skills. But sometimes people come to it naturally.

Other people you'll need to say "Well, you have to learn this." And I think you need to do it with the students because then they themselves, when they're learning (at college or university) or anybody that's involved with young people has to be trained in that because it does not come naturally to everyone. And it would make you a much more elite teacher/coach. It'd make you a better person, you've got to be able to tweak into folks' minds to know where can this child go next? What'll make them tick? Why are they feeling down? But I think you need to bring the parents in as well.

2.2.6 Summary

Given the range and diversity of individuals interviewed, we believe that the level of consensus is extremely high with regard to the veracity and applicability of the philosophy. This, we feel, is one of the most positive findings. Education is an extremely initiative-rich environment these days, and teachers are often jaded with respect to the n-ext great, new idea (Times Educational Supplement, 15th August 2003). With regard to the DPYPS project, however, participants remain committed and enthusiastic about its potential for the future.

Section 3 The Content and Methodology of the Intervention

3.1 An Overview of the DPYPS Content and Methodology 3.1.1 Why was the DPYPS Programme Created?

The importance of developing and sustaining sporting success is one of the three visions of Scotland’s national strategy for sport – Sport 21: Nothing Left to Chance (Scottish Sports Council, 1998) – to recognise and nurture sporting talent. Our earlier report commissioned by sportscotland to look at the issue of TID highlighted that, in the UK, the actual resources required for talent identification have been concentrated on anthropometrical measures. Unfortunately, as we highlighted in that critical review, the required resources should concentrate primarily on the psychological dimensions supported by the development of fundamental motor skills (Abbott et al., 2002). In addition, we identified that talent is dependent on genetics, environment, encouragement and the effect of these on physical and psychological traits. Accordingly, we argued that equipping young people with the appropriate psycho-behavioural characteristics of excellence and providing them with opportunities to develop, at an early age, the fundamental motor skills required for participation in a wide range of sporting activities would allow them to reach their potential in sport and physical recreation. Finally, we also contended that, by equipping young people with these competences, physical activity levels would be raised.

Based on the findings of this report, the DPYPS programme was created to give children the knowledge, motivation and skills they need to achieve their best in physical activity settings. Whilst the programme is oriented towards achievement in sport, there is a considerable ‘carry over’ of benefits to wider dimensions, including the enablement of a physically active lifestyle.

3.1.2 What are the Objectives of the DPYPS Programme?

The DPYPS programme is based on research which highlights that both psychomotor and psycho-behavioural factors underpin the capacity of an individual to develop successfully in sport (see Section 2 of this report). Specifically, psychomotor considerations are seen as essential skills that underpin the development of sportspecific skills whilst psycho-behavioural characteristics facilitate the interaction of an individual with the environment enabling him/her to optimise their development.

Consequently, the DPYPS programme places substantial emphasis on these factors early on in the physical development of children. A description of the psychomotor and psycho-behavioural curricula employed within the DPYPS programme follows. Although, for clarity, curricula are presented separately, psychomotor and psycho-behaviours act in an inter-related way and therefore, these elements were developed alongside each other so that links could be made explicit.

3.1.3 Psychomotor Development

During the design of the DPYPS programme, the importance of early psychomotor development was a key concept. Specifically, the programme was designed to equip individuals with a broad developmental base to aid sports participation for a healthier lifestyle, and/or involvement in high performance sport. Consequently, a psychomotor

curriculum across three levels of development was evolved:

Level One: Basic Moves. The Level One work cards contain suggested content to help develop basic movements that underpin a variety of sports (see Table 3.1). The cards suggest activities to promote each of the basic movements, working along a continuum;

starting simply and progressively becoming more difficult (see Figure 3.1). Additionally, as Figure 3.1 also shows, the card highlights critical features and common problems at the various stages of development, enabling teachers/coaches to promote progression through an explicit focus on the appropriate key features.

–  –  –

Table 3.1: Basic movements targeted within Level One psychomotor curriculum.

The Basic Task Catch an object in the hands successfully in a well timed simultaneous action and in a balanced position. Key Words: Ready, reach, give.

Example Extension Task Throw the ball high; reach high to catch it. Give on contact. What direction are fingers and thumbs pointing on contact? Where are palms facing on contact?

Fingers and thumbs should be pointing upwards; palms should be facing each other.

Example Application Tasks Throw the ball at a line drawn at waist height on the wall. Can you hit just above and just below the line.

–  –  –

Figure 3.1: An example Level One work card from the psychomotor curriculum that suggests activities to promote the basic skill of catching and highlights critical features and common problems at the various stages of development.

Level Two: transition programme. The Transitions programme aims to take well-learned basic movements and gradually combine and refine these to produce more complex, sports-like patterns of movement. The combinations, like the programme as a whole, are designed to be progressive. Simple movements are combined with other simple movements to allow the generation of increasingly complex movement sequences. To aid the teacher/coach, exemplar problems embrace both the individual components and their combination. Additionally, as cognitive abilities (e.g., scanning & decision making) play a vital role in team game performance, these are developed in tandem with the movement skills (Grehaigne, Godbout & Bouthier, 2001) (see Figure 3.2). Figure 3.2 shows an example of an exercise that looks at object control in invasion games.

Level Three: sport specific programme. The level three programme looks at how the level one and level two psychomotor cards can provide the foundation for sport specific development. For example, kicking for accuracy and distance (basic moves cards) and scanning and decision-making (transition cards) will promote skills that are required to be proficient at football.


The DPYPS programme highlights the essential facilitation role that psychomotor dispositions have within the TID process. As these skills are developmental, however, the DPYPS programme does not advocate ‘talent’ identification based on proficiency on one or more of these tasks, but rather provides activities that exploit means by which these skills can be progressively promoted. Crucially, for achieving ‘wider’ benefits beyond performance sport, basic levels of competence on the psychomotor skills also provide the competence to maintain a physically active lifestyle into adulthood.

Additionally, the DPYPS programme also highlights the essential role that psychobehaviours will have on the TID process and the importance of promoting these alongside the development of psychomotors.

Learning Objective: to develop the transition between receiving and sending whilst travelling Suitable for: catch, overarm/underarm throw, chest/bounce pass, roll, kick and trap.

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