F: So, what are these games that are going to have this magical effect upon children & young people?
A: Excellent question! But have patience. Everything will be revealed in good time.
Meanwhile - as they say!
Before we look at specific games and tie them into the development and practice of specific skills we need to step back a little and quickly look at and attempt to define the Key Processes and the Key Competences that apply when we start to create a logical and practical physical programme based upon games. We need to define a realistic path that relates directly to what it is that we are attempting to achieve, then and only then can we link specific games to specific aims.
The first thing we need to look at are the Key Processes, the first of which is the Development of Skills and Techniques.
It is important to ensure that any games we use or develop are aimed at gradually improving the technique, range, difficulty and quality of any physical skill that we wish to apply.
Allied with this we should use other specifically targeted games to develop Consistency, Precision, Control and Fluency of a Technique or Performance, such as defining the use and relevance of the fundamental motor skills: i.e. Object Control, Balance, Throwing, Catching, Rhythm and Tempo. We need games that address and prepare both the physical and mental approach that is needed for constructive involvement in any given physical activity. Also, we need games that Develop and maintain Physical Strength, Stamina, Speed and Flexibility. And, above all, we need to begin defining and understanding what constitutes a Healthy, Balanced Lifestyle and consider how the physical and mental components - Cardiovascular and Muscular Endurance/Stamina link to building that healthy lifestyle.
F: That’s a mouthful! But doesn’t this make the whole concept a bit daunting and complicated?
A: On the contrary! This approach is actually quite simple, it’s just that the language we use often seems to complicate and obscure what in reality are very simple ideas. Please remember that this concept is not just about learning specific skills in isolation, this is about attempting to develop a much broader concept – that of physical literate beings who can intelligently cope with any given physical challenge or problem. This is the underpinning of the approach that we talked about in our first conversation – how to achieve this seemingly mystical symbiosis between movement, manipulation, balance and rhythm, i.e. to become Physically Literate! So, it is well to remember that games can be used to simplify and pinpoint the basic tenets which form the basis of these seemingly complex questions! Does that begin to make a little more sense?
F: I think so, although you do seem to be going around and round in endless circles without actually giving any defining answers.
A: Fair comment, but the need is to be very aware of these Key Processes and realise that, unless we define and understand what they are, none of the overall aims that we are hoping to achieve, will ever be attained!
So, we need to find games that address……
The preparation required - both physically and mentally - for involvement in any physical activity.
Developing and maintaining physical strength, stamina, speed and flexibility.
The understanding and definition of what constitutes a healthy, balanced lifestyle and the part that a balanced lifestyle, plays in developing that understanding.
Being aware of how the physical and mental components - are linked to the creation of that healthy lifestyle.
F: I think I am beginning to understand what you are on about. A little bit!
A: Good. Now here are a few more Key Processes to think about.
Muscular Endurance: Carry out repetitive tasks without tiring; to be able to finish an exercise programme
Speed: Be able to perform a physical activity quickly; get physical jobs done quickly.
Strength: Be able to lift and carry heavy objects safely; be able to perform Within a dynamic physical activity such as gymnastics, dance or circus.
Flexibility: Be able to sustain physical activity without straining muscles; be able to reach for things; be able to perform demanding physical activities such as gymnastics, dance or circus. All these can be developed and maintained using targeted games.
F: Wow! That’s a lot of information to absorb at one sitting.
A: There is more! Don’t forget, the Warm Up and the Cool Down:
Probably the most important of all, Key Processes and yes before you ask, they too can be achieved using games!
Warm up –this includes, preparing for activity/performance; enables flexibility; improves speed/strength of muscular contraction; reduces risk of injury.
Cool down – assists and speeds removal of lactic acid/waste products; prevents stiffness/soreness; prevents injury.
So, there we have the Key Processes which only leaves us to define the Key Competences
Using games, we can define the relationship between skills, the selection and application of those skills and the readiness of body and mind to cope with the ensuing physical activity.
We can be
Creative - explore and experiment with techniques, skills and compositional ideas to produce efficient, effective and creative outcomes.
Performance: using physical competence, literacy and understanding of the intelligent physical skill based activity to produce effective performance outcomes.
Develop a Healthy, Active Lifestyle – Understand the positive contribution that regular, fit for purpose physical activity makes to the physical and mental health of the individual.
F: That is lot to take in!
A: True, however if you begin to understand what we have been discussing and I am sure that you will, then it becomes much easier to think about and begin to construct a developmental programme with play as it’s foundation!
The dialogue continues, …