If you want your kids to develop skills and enthusiasm for a particular sport or physical activity, make sure you register them in a quality program. While this may seem self-evident, the real challenge is knowing what makes a quality program, and where you can find one.
Not all programs in hockey, tennis, basketball, soccer, gymnastics, swimming or any other sport are the same. It’s like preschool programs: they don’t all feature the same degree of organization, quality curriculum, and qualified teaching.
Some sport and physical activity programs have coaches or instructors with little or no training. Others have game formats that do a poor job of skill development, or training routines that force kids to train like 30-year-old adults.
What should you look for? Here are some basic points to consider:
- Are the coaches, instructors or activity leaders trained or certified? Or are they untrained?
- Is the activity environment safe? Is it clean? Is the equipment in good condition?
- Does the program follow the training and competition guidelines recommended by the national association for that sport or activity? Every sport in Canada now has it’s own recommended long-term athlete development plan (LTAD). Programs that follow LTAD are more likely to be developmentally appropriate for your child.
- In keeping with LTAD guidelines, does the program focus on fun and developing the ABCs of physical literacy the 3-5 year old age bracket? The ABCs stand for agility, balance, coordination and speed. These qualities don’t just happen by themselves, and they are necessary precursors to learning fundamental movement skills and fundamental sport skills later.
- In keeping with LTAD guidelines, does the program focus on fun and fundamental skills learning in the 6-12 year old age bracket? Fundamental movement and sport skills are the foundation of physical literacy, and your child should develop physical literacy before puberty.
Check out our lists of quality team sport programs and quality individual sport programs. These lists are works in progress, so check back often to learn about more sports and physical activities. You can also learn about quality sports programs at Canadian Sport for Life.