Sunday, 28 April 2013

Parental Influence on Child Physical Activity

I read an article (reference at bottom of post) recently on how parents levels of physical activity impact on their children's physical activity involvement. This got me thinking about the role of parents in promoting physical activity in children, and as true with many things in life, children look to their parents as the major influence for their own behaviour.

There are many interventions implemented in schools and preschools focusing on improving the physical activity levels of children. But without parental support it would be very unrealistic to assume that physical activity levels will stay elevated outside the school environment. So therefore perhaps education interventions should focus more on parents lifestyle changes and the changes that parents implement into their lives would than be filtered down to make changes to the child.

It has been proven that parents particularly mothers who are physically active at least once per week and have a healthy diet, have children who participate in a greater amount of organised physical activity, a greater amount of unorganised physical activity, eat a healthier diet and in general lead a healthier lifestyle compared to children of inactive parents. Physical active parents are also more likely to engage in whole family activities such as a family game of soccer.

There are many interventions to promote physical activity in both adults and child and at the end of the day everyone shares the same common goal of increasing childhood activity.

Lee, S. A., Nihiser, A., Strouse, D., Das, B., Michael, S. & Huhman, M. (2010). Correlates of children and parents being physically active together. Journal of Physical Activity and Health. 7(6):776-784.

Friday, 19 April 2013

Physiological Testing

Part of my role as the Senior Intern with the South East Regional Academy of Sport is to oversee the Physiological Testing of all athletes on Scholarship. Yesterday myself and three of the other interns travelled to Bermagui to test all the athletes that live on the South Coast. Majority of the athletes were from the netball program with a couple of golfers and a lawn bowler also included in the testing. For most of these athletes it was their second round of testing for the year, the aim of this testing was to determine any improvements from the start of the year and after an 8 week strength and conditioning program.

I am pleased to report the day ran very smoothly, majority of athletes put in an outstanding effort and really push themselves especially in the endurance tests. The athletes showed great interest in the tests, regularly asking questions about how they can improve their performance in certain tests. They are also very good at pushing each other along especially in the Yo-Yo Intermittent Endurance Test. It was very pleasing to note how determined several of the girls were to push themselves harder then they thought they could. It is great to see majority of the athletes making the most of the opportunity SERAS is offering them. I would also like to thank the other interns for conducting the testing in a professional manner and to all the parents who drove the athletes to Bermagui as everyone knows junior athletes cannot succeed without the dedication and support of their families.

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Natural Leaders

I had a thought watching a junior game of football recently about the notion of team captains of junior sports teams. Some children are natural leaders so should we as coaches let these children flourish by providing them greater responsibility within the team. Or to keep the more traditional view of rotating the role between all children in the team.

I understand grassroots sport has a high emphasis on enjoyment and sampling all aspects of sport which is vitally important. However development of all athletes is important so therefore maybe its an idea to allow those children that feel naturally comfortable in this role to have the opportunity on a more regular basis to allow them to take control and step up. This method also allows children that don't like having attention drawn to them be happy with just playing the game.

Saturday, 13 April 2013


Photo by Emma Friend
My  apologies for the delay since my last post, I have recently returned from a trip to Thailand. I was travelling as the tour manager of the South East Regional Academy of Sport (SERAS) Golf Team, who were participating in the World Schools Golf Challenge (WSGC) in Hua Hin, Thailand.

Our touring group composed of 5 athletes, Head Coach Chris Hearn, parent Gerrad Hanscombe, Executive Director Garry Lane, Board Member Geoff King and myself. We were in Thailand for 8 days, with the athletes participating in 4 competition rounds and 1 practice round. The WSGC consisted of over 30 teams from around the world attracting teams from countries including Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, England, India and Thailand. The competitors had the privilege of playing on some of the best golf courses in Asia and probably some of the best in the world. For many of them it was also the first time they experienced playing on such magnificent course and also the first time using a caddy. All athletes learnt a lot from this trip on the golf course while experiencing very tough conditions that were rather different from what we are used to in Australia. This is included the greens were particularly hard to read and played differently as well as the very hot and humid weather conditions.

This experience was invaluable for our athletes, they learnt so much not only on the golf course, but off the golf course as well. The competition was held in a different country and for many of us in the group it was our first visit to Thailand and for a couple our first trip overseas. Hua Hin in Thailand provided us with a very cultural experience, and we were lucky we had time to participate in a few extra activities such as visiting the night markets, going elephant riding and catching a Tuk Tuk (a Thailand taxi). Simple tasks such as crossing the road on occasion proved to be a challenge with traffic/road rules very different from Australia. For many of the athletes it was their first trip away without family in attendance which provided a whole new challenge as they learnt the importance of  simple activities such as getting up and being ready on time each morning.

And myself? I also learnt a lot from the trip, I am not an avid golfer nor claim to be however being around the athletes as well as staff from other schools all week I was more than happy to listen and observe. I was amazed how much I could learn in such a short period of time. I can now take this knowledge back and apply this to my main job with the academy, overseeing the strength and conditioning of the athletes. The power of observation is a very important tool and I can now say I fully understand the benefit of not saying anything and just watching as so much can be learnt from this. From listening to conversation and slowly joining the dots between points to get a better understanding or hearing a comment and seeing it played out on the course.

I would like to finish by thanking everyone involved with the tournament - the WSGC organisers, the staff of Golf Asian, the staff from the other schools participating, all competitors and the SERAS staff and athletes for a great week. This was an experience that will live in my mind for a long time as I hope it does for everyone involved.