Find a quality basketball programBy: Peter Warren
In today’s continually evolving world of youth sports, it is important for coaches, parents, and athletes to understand the important role that physical literacy will play in a child’s development. Understanding and emphasizing the role of physical literacy has an clear impact on the athletic development of our youth, however, promoting activities that increase physical literacy can have a major impact on their overall development, outside of sport.
What is Physical Literacy?
In order to promote and facilitate a larger emphasis on physical literacy, it is important to be able to know what it means. In the short video below, exercise physiologist Dr. Dean Kriellaars, a professor at the University of Manitoba and a leading expert in physical literacy, provides a description of the term, giving the listener a better understanding.

In simpler terms, physical literacy can be understood as the ability to perform movement skills that are considered to be fundamental to normal human activity, as well as serving as a base for common sport skills. Using these abilities, children will be able to recognize aspects of their environment and make a sound decision that results in confidence in bodily control and basic human motor situations.
The Decline of Physical Literacy:
In recent years, a number of studies have been produced on the subject, many emphasizing a steady decline in the physical literacy of children. With today’s youth spending more and more time sitting in front of a screen (whether it be television, computers, cell phones, or video games), understanding and promoting physical literacy has reached a point where all parties involved must see the positive impact it can have, as well as the negative consequences that can result when children with poor physical literacy develop into adults.

A recent study produced by CBC News outlined a number of ways that a lack of physical literacy education can impact adulthood, specifically referencing the increasing trend of obesity in our country’s men and women. Although it is difficult to accurately identify the role physical literacy (or lack thereof) can have on obesity, one can logically infer the two are connected. If someone never learns the importance of physical literacy and living an active lifestyle, how can they apply these concepts to their adult lives, especially after one’s metabolism may not be as forgiving?
If coaches and parents want to ensure today’s youth understand physical literacy and how it can positively impact their lives, they must be proactive in making it a part of their daily lives, emphasizing the development of these basic motor skills through physical activity.
Tips on How to Emphasize Physical Literacy:
In order to emphasize the development of physical literacy, coaches and parents need to base activities on the developmental age of the athletes, making sure that the methods being used work in conjunction with the skills of the child. Below you will find a few tips for facilitating the development of physical literacy, divided into the three initial stages of LTAD: (1) Active Start, (2) FUNdamentals, and (3) Learn to Train.

Active Start (Ages 0-6)
— Play throwing games – start with soft objects that the child can hold easily in his or her hand. Try to get the child to throw at a target, and sometimes throw as hard as they can. Get them to use both the left and right hand when they throw
— For quiet times, or when in small spaces, play balancing games. Stand on one foot and then try the other – try balancing on different body parts, and try walking along any painted lines on the ground
— Ride a tricycle, or a bike – with or without training wheels to develop dynamic balance

FUNdamentals (Boys 6-9, Girls 6-8)
— Continue to play catching, throwing, hitting, running and other physically demanding games with both boys and girls – Enroll children in programs that offer a wide variety of different activities (multi-sport programs) or in a wide range of different activities. Try as many different activities as possible!
— Don’t be concerned with the score – At this age many programs that include competition don’t keep score. Puts the focus of the program on learning and having fun, rather than on doing whatever it takes to win
— Encourage children to engage in unstructured physical activity with their friends every day, regardless of the weather outside

Learn to Train (Boys 9-12, Girls 8-11)
— Encourage children to take every opportunity to play different sports at school, during physical education classes, intramurals or on school teams if their school has them
— Keep children working on flexibility, speed, endurance and strength – For strength activities they should use their own body weight, Swiss balls or medicine balls – not heavy weights
— Keep sport and physical activity FUN!

Physical literacy will always play a significant role in the positive and successful development of youth, where instilling the importance of healthy living at a young age can help children apply these values as they mature into adults. It is up to parents and coaches to be proactive in their ability to understand what physical literacy means, and how they can encourage its development!

Archibald, Dresdin. The Decline of Physical Literacy in Kids: What Can We Do? Breaking Muscle.
Canadian Sport for Life. Developing Physical Literacy.
Yard, Bridget. Effects of poor physical literacy in children carry into adulthood. CBC News.

Source: Steve Nash Youth Basketball Blog
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