Saturday, January 21, 2012

What is "Physical Literacy"?

"Individuals who are physically literate move with competence and confidence in a wide variety of physical activities in multiple environments that benefit the healthy development of the whole person."
Years ago, my first ever assistant coach, Rino, once pointed out to me that some players did not know how to run properly.  I wondered what he meant, but since then I see it all the time.

In a time period, not too far in the distant past, children played outside all day long.  A typical day involved climbing, jumping, skipping, catching, throwing, kicking, running, rolling, wrestling and balancing.  Unsupervised, extended outdoor play time is no longer the norm and it shows in our players.

If you watch children play hockey or soccer there is almost a robotic undertone to what's going on during games.  To me, it's a combination of over-coaching and a lack of intuitiveness that's developed when children play on their own.

If you watch young players from other countries, especially the poorer nations, they have an athleticism about them that we can no longer match on a grand scale.  That athleticism still shows through in basketball players who grew up playing on the street, but very few other places.

Some people will argue that you are "born with it".  You might be able to argue that when it comes to the level of potential, but not when it comes to confidence.  If you are exposed to various situations requiring you to have better control of your body during your early years, you will be more confident in using your body and more inclined to try new things later in life.

You see it all the time ... people who have bodies that are not athletic but are confident in playing anything. And vice versa.

It's important to build some time into each session that allows the players to play and solve their own problems.

Physical Literacy is directly addressed in the Long Term Player Development philosophy of many sports in Canada.