The Fundamentals of Sport
Being a father of three, I want to put my children in a position to enjoy and succeed in any sport they would like to pursue. With the amount of different sports and activities available to children now it is impossible to know what they will want to play when they are older. However, there is still a way that I believe I can prepare them for this by looking at a few fundamentals that I believe cross over most sports.
Growing up in Hong Kong and having taught in a number of different prep and secondary schools, I understand that sport and exercise is not at the forefront for all parents – but why? As sport has been a huge part of my life from a young age, I cannot imagine not living an active lifestyle. This love of sport and exercise is something that I want to instil in my own children. Not only do I want them to be active because of the physical benefits, but also for their mental health and well-being. There are a huge amount of studies that explain the benefits of exercise not only for a heathy life but also for increase brain capacity (but I will come back to this topic another day). These of course are great reasons by themselves to encourage your children to pursue exercise. Another great reason to invest a bit of time in children’s physical development at a young age is that it will make sport and exercise easier, and therefore more enjoyable, for them in the future. I believe that the reason a lot of secondary school children, in Hong Kong, aren’t interested in their PE classes and sport is because of their ability levels and that is the reason they find it difficult. Children, and most adults, enjoy things more when they are good at it or think that they have the potential to become good at it.
Why we made the APP
The idea behind the BE app is to try and help children develop their sporting abilities even if they do not have much space or equipment. If COVID-19 has taught us anything, it is how to work and play from home. There are loads of skills and activities that can be done at home to work on physical literacy that can transfer into a number of sports and help your child succeed in any sport in their future. We have tried to put all of this into one app to help improve your child’s all-round ability.
The first thing to mention about the design of the BE app is we have created an App that is constantly changing so the workouts should never be exactly the same. Also, we have made the exercises functional to help the children move better but also fun and challenging in an attempt to keep them engaged when using the app. As the app gives children a chance to reflect on the level of difficulty of an activity and tailors workouts to their level, it is suitable for all children regardless of their affinity for sport and exercise. We have focused on three main areas; strength, speed and co-ordination.
Strength – Most children are naturally strong and can move their bodyweight around very well. Just think how difficult crawling around on the floor is for adults and think how easily children can do this. Another example is watching children in the playground and on the monkey bars. The majority of children who are active can perform these exercises easily. As children get older they lose this ability very easily and, by the time they are in secondary schools, a lot of students will struggle to hang on bars for very long. In most sports the best athletes are usually the strongest. Strength helps to prevent injuries and improves your power and speed that normally makes sports easier to perform. A lot of children drop out of sport because they find it difficult, so improving their strength and therefore making sport easier will help them enjoy participating in their sport more. The strength exercises have been made to be both functional and fun to keep children engaged. Just be aware that they may see your sofa in a new light from now on.
Speed – Having played professional rugby, I can tell you first hand the importance of speed in almost any sport. I can’t think of a sport where speed will not help you and give you an advantage. Again, the easier kids find things the more likely they are to enjoy themselves and want to continue with what they are doing. When most people think of speed they will automatically think of running speed and so you may question what can be done at home. What a lot of people may not know is that the fastest runners are the ones who can jump the highest and spend the least amount of time on the floor. Therefore, this opens up a huge amount of exercises that can be done at home. Learning how your body works and improving your own co-ordination can help with your speed and sprinting as well and this is another big focus within the app’s home workouts. You will see children struggling to perform some of these exercises to begin with but then a sense of achievement and joy when they finally crack them. This is by far my eldest daughter’s (age 7) favourite part of the app.
Co-ordination – As stated in the speed section, having control of your body and being aware of how your body moves will help you do things that you thought you couldn’t do. We have a big focus on hand eye co-ordination and gymnastic movements in the Personalised Workout section of the app. The tennis ball work will help with sports even if they don’t involve balls. When you are more in tune with your hands and feet you will be aware of what they are doing and therefore be able to use them more effectively. This will transfer into sports like swimming, climbing, running etc. We also don’t know what our children will want to do as they get older and a lot of sports do include some sort of ball so giving them a good base of co-ordination when they are younger will mean they can pick up sports a lot easier when they get older (not to mention the link between increased brain function and difficult activities). Gymnastics is a great way for children to learn how their body works and is also a great way for children to improve their all-round strength.
There are so many benefits for children to engage in sports and it’s our mission to help them in any way possible. Whether it is a child who feels that they do not enjoy sports (yet) or a budding young athlete who wants to hone their skills to become the best they can be in their chosen sport, they will benefit from the app. By building the Bear Essentials workouts into your daily routines, we aim to build physical, functional movement into your child’s day-to-day life. #buildthehabit