Is kids’ development influenced by the link between education and sports?

By May 26, 2016 Blog One Comment

Few days ago I read a facebook post written by a mother. It went like this “Radu wants to play football. I am reserved from obvious reasons related to the coaches attitudes and habits regarding kids. Could you recommend me a coach who knows how to communicate with kids, polite, who promotes team-work and has the power to appreciate every kid’s effort without labels, shouts or offends. I heard all kinds of stories which horrified me.”

There are more and more parents who want a better sport-related-experience for their kids.


Few weeks ago i had the opportunity to reflect on what being a coach means while attending an intense Training Course in Butlersbridge – an outstanding place built for scouts at the border of Ireland and Northern Ireland.

I left with one powerful idea from this week spent along with transformative coaches and leaders around the world who make the difference in their communities in Italy, Slovakia, Czech, Ireland and even Romania.

My inquiry question was: How can I improve the impact I have as a sports coach?

I discovered that there are three layers at which you can look at the impact you have as a coach:

1. Education For Sports (EFS)

Here you are an instructor and your job is to focus on teaching kids the game and the skills they need, in order to perform that sport weather it is football, rugby or ballet. What is a goal kick? How do you pass a ball with the inside of the foot? Or how do you perform a correct demi-plié.

At this stage you have a technical – skilled based approach. The aim here is to help kids compete as good as possible and master the sport.

2. Education By Sports (EBS)

Learning a sport might look easy but practicing it consistently for few years requires to also train transversal skills that help you beyond the field. You will be forced to learn You will be taught how to live a disciplined, well organized life, how to connect and take care of your body or how to nurture human relationships.

As a coach your role is to facilitate these lessons. To empower them. To outline them. To talk about them. And to go even beyond them. Here you are much more than a sport instructor. You are an educator. You have to be aware of all “teachable moments” sport has to offer at any given time and make the most out of them so that kids can grow as better people not just better athletes.

3. Education Through Sports (ETS)

In At this stage, sport is just a vehicle. It’s a way of delivering the message or the lessons. The main objective has nothing to do with sport, it’s all about learning and changing behaviours related to life situations, or global challenges as we focused in Ireland (discrimination, global warming or inequality).

As a coach you design and facilitate meaningful learning experiences. You may have no expert level sports-related skills but you have the ability to create experiences filled with teachable moments.


Back to the Facebook post, what I’ve noticed is that Radu’s mother was looking after an EBS level – coach. She was not complaining about the lack of competence regarding the ability to instruct and initiate a kid in football. But obviously this was not enough for her.

As a coach the biggest challenge is to shift from EFS to EBS. From an instructor, to an educator. Doing so you’ll have a tremendous impact on the kids’ long-term-development and I believe this is the little difference that makes the big difference so i’ll address this in my next article.

A Masterful Coach is able to play all these roles. He knows how to mix these 3 approaches. It’s something i’m actively working on.

Do you know some examples of EBS or ETS ? If so, let’s discuss them in a comment below.

P.s. Thank you development perspectives for this learning experience.




2. Move And Learn: Manual for Non-Formal Education Through Sport and physical 

One Comment

  • Jennifer says:

    Thank you for being mindful of our children; their playful excitement, their tired days, their good days and bad moments, and for utilizing sport to build them up and help form their character. Thank you, also, for pursuing your own training and education, in order to have an even greater impact!

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