Junior Tigers Update: April 1, 2021

Term 3 Athletics are off and running. Literally. Both Ultimate and Track & Field incorporate and focus on running, and our young Tigers put their feet to the ground this past week building their movement skills. Being mindful of COVID restrictions, we have limited our teams to one practice per week:

  • Monday morning, Grade 5 Ultimate
  • Monday after school, Grades 3 and 4 Track & Field
  • Tuesday after school, Grade 7 Ultimate
  • Wednesday after school, Grades 5, 6, and 7 Track & Field
  • Thursday after school, Grade 6 Ultimate

With 55 students participating in Ultimate, we are happy to continue introducing disc skills to the next wave of players. Forehand flicks, backhand, and the hammer are the three basic throws teams will practice. Our players will be learning and using some basic Ultimate vocab on a frequent basis. Don’t be alarmed if you hear your child using terms such as cut, cutter, handler, huck, defense, disc, mark, pull, and stall to describe what happened at practice.

With the current restrictions, we have really pushed our Track & Field experience towards developing two key athletic elements: speed and strength. Aside from the purposeful sessions, each practice contains specific work for building an athlete’s running technique. In the Track & Field world these drills are known by several names: Mach Drills, Power Speed, or simply As, Bs, Cs, and Ds. Also hidden inside each practice is a lot of FUN! Young athletes do the majority of their training when they play. They naturally set the correct intensity, and through games each athlete will build the repetitions necessary to develop fundamental athletic movements. Of course, it will come as no surprise to find out that many of our “games” incorporate a lot of running. So far, our 100 athletes and 10 coaches are making the best of our modified season, and we are looking forward to many weeks of fun in the sun.

Brent Jackson
Junior Athletics Coordinator

Junior Tigers Update: December 10, 2020

This week we carry on with our Athletics Explained online information, and we continue introducing ideas and answers that will help us navigate the youth-sports journey. David Prissinotti has been the Senior School Athletics Director since 1998 and we have worked together since 1997. Over that time, I like to think that we have developed some fundamentally sound ideas about organizing school sports. Those ideas are born of experience with our entire community (students, parents, coaches, and administration). Many of our ideas align beautifully with Bruce Brown (ProActive Coaching). One of the biggest constants we have in common is that our Athletics Program is designed to develop good citizens. 

Children join physical activities all the time, and as our children grow, there is a shift from playing for fun to playing to practice (building skills). In the Junior School, our Athletics Program has to navigate this path as well. We start, first and foremost, by having a place for all of our Grade 3 to 7 students to participate—we don’t “cut” players in the Junior School Athletics Program. Secondly, in Grades 3 and 4 we intentionally introduce individual sports only. Team sports are added in Grade 5, when the majority of our student population can handle the more difficult skills and strategies that are required for team activities. Finally, we add tournaments to the Grade 7 schedules, so that they experience a higher level of competitive situations. The continuous growth of our student-athletes physical abilities parallels their ability to play a bigger and more central role in communication.

When our Grade 3s start their school-based athletic journey they have very little experience in communication. Parents do the sign-up, coaches communicate to parents, and our youngest athletes are left to follow a lot of instructions. It is like this because our youngest athletes need that support. By Grade 5, young athletes will come home and begin to tell parents things that their coach is asking them to do. By Grade 7, most parents have suddenly found themselves in the background of communication, and often it is the parents who are left following instructions.

For the most part this is a smooth, natural transition. Coaches gradually ask more of their athletes, parents gradually expect more of their children, and children gradually want more independence. In today’s world, most of our online communication is just simply passing information along. However, sometimes problems arise (philosophies, roles, playing time), and here is when clear lines of communication are helpful both for teaching and resolving any issues. When there is a problem (usually between the player and the coach) the steps of communication/resolution should go something like the following:

  1. Player – Coach
  2. Player / Parent – Coach
  3. Player / Parent – Coach / AD
  4. Player / Parent – Coach / AD / Admin

Getting beyond the first two stages is usually indicative of a serious problem, or a philosophical juxtaposition, and beyond most youth athletes. Of course, any stage of communication immediately presents a problem when you are only 8 years old! It is completely within norms for parents to initiate conversations for their young children. As our children grow, we can slowly step back, and allow them to begin to initiate those conversations themselves. I am always amazed at how good some parents are at supporting their children’s self-advocacy. As I mentioned last week, this is our children’s journey, so when problems arise, they are central in the solutions. It is incumbent upon the adults to find the best way to support them in order for them to gain the most from their athletic endeavours. 

Brent Jackson
Junior School Athletics Coordinator