Physical literacy is the cornerstone of both participation and excellence in physical activity and sport. Individuals who are physically literate are more likely to be active for life.
- Becoming physically literate is influenced by the individual's age, maturation and capacity.
- Ideally, supporting the development of physical literacy should be a major focus prior to the adolescent growth spurt.
- The skills that make up physical literacy vary by location and culture, and depend on how much importance a society places on certain activities.
Physically literate individuals:
- Demonstrate a wide variety of basic human movements, fundamental movement skills and fundamental sports skills.
- Move with poise, confidence, competence and creativity in different physical environments (on the ground, both indoor and outdoor; in the air; in and on water; on snow and ice).
- Develop the motivation and ability to understand, communicate, apply and analyze different forms of movement.
- Make choices that engage them in physical activity, recreation or sport activities that enhance their physical and psychological wellness, and permit them to pursue sport excellence commensurate with their ability and motivation.
Find the right sport:
A child’s desire to play a particular sport should always be the most important consideration when deciding to enroll him or her in a program. However children should be guided to try a variety of sports throughout the year and avoid focusing solely on one sport for more than one or two seasons (fall, winter, spring, summer) until the fundamental movement skills have been acquired.
Local, provincial and national sport organizations are being encouraged to offer modified programs (shorter seasons, partnerships with other sports or multisport programs) to facilitate optimal skill development in the active start and fundamentals age groups.
Physical Health Education Canada and Active For Life are excellent physical literacy resources for parents, coaches and educators.
EARLY VS. LATE SPECIALIZATION
(Summarized from Canadian Sport For Life)
Specializing before the age of 12 in most sports contributes to:
- One-sided, sport-specific preparation
- Lack of ABCs (agility, balance, coordination), the basic movement and sports skills
- Overuse injuries
- Early burnout
- Early drop out from training and competition
Exceptions may include the few early specialization sports such as gymnastics.
Disability sports are also late specialization and it is critically important that children with a congenital disability or early acquired disability be exposed to the full range of fundamentals before specializing in the sport of their choice.
Early involvement in the FUNdamentals stage is essential in late specialization sports. Many sports resort to remedial programs to try to correct shortcomings.
By following the LTAD guidelines and encouraging our local sport boards, municipalities, coaches and other key leaders to program accordingly (i.e. shorter seasons, encourage multiple sport participation, creativity and collaboration between sports to minimize scheduling conflicts etc.) we can help create a collaborative sport system in which all sports work together to foster global physical development and physical literacy for our youth.
CREATING ACTIVE, RESILIENT KIDS
ACTIVE FOR LIFE
If children have been correctly introduced to activity and sport through Active Start, FUNdamentals and Learning to Train programs, they are more likely to have the necessary motor skills and confidence (physical literacy) to remain Active for Life in virtually any sport they like. With a greater number of youth participating in sport, not only will we have a more active, healthy community but also a greater pool of athletes with potential to move into the higher performance "Train to Win" levels.
What are the benefits of sports participation for youth?
- Self Esteem
- Less Likely to take drugs or smoke
- Reduce depression and relieve stress
- Develop discipline
- Learn to deal with disappointment
- Academic success
- Strategic thinking
- Exercise – quality of life!
Trends in Physical Activity Among Children
- Up to 75% of kids drop out of sports by the time they are 13 years of age
- The amount of time spent playing video games by Canadian children is among the highest in the world
- Girls who are physically active in sports are 92% less likely to use drugs and 80% less likely to have unwanted pregnancy
- A 1998 Gallup poll reported that 74% of the Canadian population is in favour of instituting 30 minutes of daily physical education in schools. Despite this fact, only 10% of the 15,800 Canadian schools have quality physical education programs daily
- Only 15% of teenagers exercise enough to be physically fit
- The average child watches 26 hours of TV each week, not including time spent on the computer and playing video games
- The health of 63% of Canadian children are threatened because of high levels of physical inactivity. Source: Heart and Stroke Foundation, Canadian Fitness and Lifestyle Research Institute, 1997.
- 22% of youth who did no exercise or play sports outside of school watched four or more hours of television per day as opposed to 13% of youth who exercised or played sports seven or more hours per week
- Activity and fitness levels early on in childhood carry over into adulthood, when sedentary habits have their impact
- Adolescents who develop a habit of being physically active when they are young will be more likely to remain active throughout their entire lives
- Benefits of continual physical activity include weight control, lower blood pressure, less stress, lower risk of heart disease and better academic performance