Covid Update

Covid Update

 

As we all know, our group sizes have been reduced from 8 to 5 for the next few weeks due to the new Covid regulations.

 

The rules implemented are very similar to the rules that were in place for the period from July to December 2020.  So all of our coaches and the children have had lots of practice with the rules.  In terms of what happens during class, the children will still have a positive sports experience at Shaws Little League.

 

The only part that has changed is the venue capacity at The Cage.  Because of this, we need you to arrive no earlier than 5 minutes before the commencement of your child’s class.  Upon arrival, please do the temperature check, proceed to the pitch, scan in and drop off your child to their class and then exit the premises.  You can then come back a few minutes before the class ends to receive your children (and catch a glimpse of them in action).  For the next while, we urge you to not hang around unnecessarily at The Cage after your child has finished their class.

 

We know how much you all enjoy watching your children play, seeing them laugh, improve and have a great time.  We also know how much your children love you watching them play too.  We as coaches also love having you all down watching your children.  However, just for these few weeks, we need your help on this. 

 

Sport teaches us many things in addition to actual sports skills and tactics – including grit, resilience and always finding a way to succeed.

 

Over the last 13 years, Shaws Little League has always found a way to continually entertain and improve children.  Even with the guidelines for May 8 to 30, we are very sure that your children will have a fun, safe and beneficial time during our classes and holiday camps.

 

See you all at Shaws Little League soon.

Is My Child Good at Sport?

Is My Child Good at Sport?

A question we are often asked by parents is “Is my child good at sport?”

 

If you ask me, yes your children are good.  What is my yardstick?  I know that at their current age, the children are all more skilled and co-ordinated than I was and I still managed to play in the World Cup for New Zealand.  I also know that the children are probably working a lot harder during our classes than I did at their age.

 

There are many ways in which “good” can be measured – how hard they kick/hit/throw the ball, how fast they can run, how strong they are etc.  This type of approach is used by many people and sports organisations.

 

However, we believe that this approach is not that important for children because of our approach being based on each individual child.  Instead, we first observe each child’s ability and work on continuously improving their skills, instead of measuring a specific skill at a point in time.  We use specific outcomes only to ensure that our coaches are all working to help your child to continuously improve and provide your child with a real sports experience.

 

We know that most of you know of Roger Federer.  However many of you will not know of a tennis player called Marco Chiudinelli.  Marco used to beat Roger Federer when they were young.  It changed a little bit when they became adults.  We are also sure that there would have been children a couple of years older, who would have also been better than Federer.  

 

There are many instances of athletes who weren’t that great as young children, but still went on to become superstars.

 

So how do we define “good” at Shaws Little League?

 

At the start of each class, our coaches tell the children four things – listen, try hard, play nicely and have fun

 

Listen – we give clear and simple instructions, we observe the children for eye contact, comprehension, asking questions and their responsiveness

Try hard – to follow instructions, give 100%, makes decisions, comes up with alternatives, shows perseverance, resilience and character

Play nicely – be gracious and humble, nice to the other children in the class and the coaches, keeps hands to themselves, communicate appropriately

Have fun – enjoys the moment, happy being with their friends and part of the group

 

If the children can do these four things for a period of time, we know that they are going to be good at sport, or whatever they choose to do in the future.  

 

See you all at Shaws Little League soon.

Sport and Brain Development - From the Experts

Sport and Brain Development - From the Experts

We hope that you are all well, keeping safe, sane and also managing to get all the things done that you need to do.

 

As we all know, playing sport is lots of fun and beneficial to everyone who participates.  We all know about physical and health benefits that sport provides, but what else is there?

 

In addition to doing sports training (alone) while the Covid-19 restrictions are in place, we have spent a lot of time reading up on how sport and physical activity impacts on the brain.

 

Below is a summary of what we have found and why we think that children should be spending time doing sport and physical activity:

  • Exercise increases the flow of blood to the brain.  The blood delivers oxygen and glucose, which the brain needs for heightened alertness and mental focus.  Because of this, exercise makes it easier for children to learn. 
  • According to U.S. researchers, exercise builds new brain cells in a brain region called dentate gyrus, which is linked with memory and memory loss.  People who exercise regularly have improved short-term memory, exhibit faster reaction time, and have higher level of creativity.
  • According to John Ratey (An Associate Clinical Professor at Harvard Medical School), exercise builds up the body’s level of brain-derived neurotrophic factor or BDNF.  BDNF causes the brain’s nerve cells to branch out, join together and communicate with each other in new ways, which leads to a child’s openness to learning and more capacity for knowledge.
  • Psychologists in the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign studied how exercise affects the actual shape and function of the children’s brain. They found that fit children scored better in a series of cognitive challenges and the kids’ MRI showed a significantly larger basal ganglia, a key part of the brain that aids in maintaining attention and “executive control,” or the ability to coordinate actions and thoughts crisply.
  • A separate study by the same institution finds that fit children also have bigger hippocampi. To do complex thinking, the hippocampus and basal ganglia regions interact in the human brain structurally and functionally.
  • Exercise helps creativity. A 2007 experiment has found that a 35 minute treadmill session at 60 to 70 percent of maximum heart rate improves cognitive flexibility, the ability of the brain to shift thinking and produce creative, original thoughts.
  • Activities that involve balance and jumping activities, strengthen the vestibular system that creates spatial awareness and mental alertness.  This provides your child with a framework for reading and other academic skills.
  • Studies in University of Illinois have shown a strong relationship between fitness scores and academic achievement among primary school children.
  • Research by Oppenheimer Funds shows that kids who participate in organized sports learn confidence, teamwork and leadership.  Eighty one percent of women business executives played team sports as girls.
  • A Swedish study showed that cardiovascular fitness is associated with cognition in young adulthood. The research hypothesize that aerobic exercise produce specific growth factors and proteins that stimulate the brain.

 

We really didn’t make any of the above up.  Whilst the various parts of the brain may be big words and hard to understand (for us anyway), the benefits of sport and exercise are all very clear.

 

We always knew that sport and physical activity are good for children, but we didn’t know it was so damn good.  Sport really can help a child to proverbially “punch above their weight” or even excel in other areas. 

 

When children come to Shaws Little League, they all have to listen, try hard, play nicely – not just to learn sports skills and all the other physical benefits of playing sport – but also to help in developing their brains.

 

We are really looking forward to sport starting up again and we can’t wait to see your children again.

 

See you all soon.

More Than Sport

More Than Sport

We have always believed that for young children, sport should be more than just about acquiring skills, trying to be the best in and “winning” in their age group.

When the children come to Shaws Little League to have fun, play, learn sport, develop their skills and laugh, here is what else they are doing:
  • Decision-making – when playing games, children need to decide whether to dribble, pass or shoot? who do I pass the ball to? do I bunt or try to hit a home run?
  • Problem solving – a lot of the activities get the children to work out “how” - we don’t over coach the children
  • Science and Physics – the children need to work out trajectory, speed, timing, distance, direction when performing a wide range of sports skills at Shaws Little League
  • Increasing their vocabulary – each sport has its own language and the children get exposure to those words which they may not experience at other times
  • Socialising – there is always time for the children to chat and laugh with each other, even during the activities
  • Teamwork – when we make the children pass the ball to each other, the coaches emphasise the need to help each other to get better and not just fool around.  We use tug of war to help the children to learn to work together too.
  • Discipline and Behaviour – we always emphasise listening, trying hard and playing nicely 
  • Developing Resilience – they get sweaty, they get tired, they may fail, but they always get back on their feet and get stuck in and try again
  • Dealing with success and failure – we do not let the children win all the time; they don’t hit home runs all the time; however we help them “to look forward to the next play”.  Even when the children succeed, we challenge them to do better.
  • Physical development – we keep the children occupied and busy as much as possible – thus, they will improve their cardiovascular system, bone density and muscle development.  A little bit of sweat, grunt and puffing each week is ok we think
  • Having fun – going hard, improving, getting sweaty, playing nicely, being with other children and giving you that delicious sweaty cuddle at the end of class
Thanks for sending your children to Shaws Little League and see you all soon.

What is Age and Developmentally Appropriate?

What is Age and Developmentally Appropriate?

We hope that you are well.

Everyone is talking about "age and developmentally appropriate” programmes in relation to children’s sport. It keeps children motivated to play sport and makes it easier to learn.  But… what is an age and developmentally appropriate sports programme?

Mostly, it just means that children should have small-sized equipment, smaller playing fields, reduced game duration (duh) and little else – the rules seem to be the same.

At Shaws Little League, age and developmentally appropriate extends to more than that – the things highlighted above are the easy things to do.  We believe that age and developmentally appropriate is about each individual child.  We make sure that our planned activities focus on what each child is able to do, and challenges each child needs to reach their own next skill level.

Yes, what we do is not "real" sport – however children enjoy sport more when they are in the game, as opposed to watching the game.  Think when we used to play right fullback in soccer and our team was caning the opponents and we didn’t get to touch the ball – to us that is not fun.  The same applies when sitting down waiting for your turn to bat – when that happens, the only thing you get better at is pulling splinters. Standing in line waiting for your turn, just makes you better at standing in line.

We do this because we want all the children to have more hits, more kicks, more throws and more activity.  This gives them more opportunities to learn and improve.  And how cool is it to see your child smashing 20 baseball hits in a short space of time?

We base the activities on the individual child, then all children have an opportunity to improve and want to keep playing.  The easy examples of this are when we throw balls to the children – we change the speed, trajectory and direction depending on the child; also when giving instructions – just giving the children enough to improve on and think about and not “MF” them (sorry we can’t think of a better term, paralysis by analysis is too long); and also when giving praise.

The same applies to that “scary” game of bullrush – we move and position ourselves in a manner that helps each child improve their movement and enjoy playing, even though the game looks dangerous.

At Shaws Little League, making sure everything we do is age and developmentally appropriate will lead to children learning how to become better than before…over and over again. 

What this means is that your child will always be in the game, have a challenge to look forward to and thus provide more value for you.

Contact us on 64409545 or fun@shawslittleleague.com to find out more.

When Children Have Fun, Amazing Happens

When Children Have Fun, Amazing Happens

Hi Parents

We hope that you are well and enjoyed the Champions League and Europa League Soccer games during the week – the work-rate, intensity, skill and entertainment was amazing.

On average, elite footballers cover between 10-12km in 90 minutes.

Have you ever wanted to know how hard your child is working during our soccer sessions?

On Sunday 5 May and Thursday 9 May, I participated for the majority of the class with the children (excluding the dribbling circuit and a few of the lengths, the juggling component and the cross-bar challenge).  I initiated the warm-up, and participated fully in the passing drill and goal shooting, and played part of the game.

In that time, I covered more than 3km according to my phone – see the attached.  Sunday morning was a bit less because I had some red wine the night before.

Because I didn’t participate fully in the class, I imagine that the children covered approximately 4km during the class.  In addition to this, the children are getting instruction and lots of touches on the ball.

You guys can do the maths as to how much they will cover over 90 minutes and you will realise that they are not that far off from the distance covered by elite players.  

Take into account the age of the children and they are really amazing. 

See you all at Shaws Little League soon.

Best regards

Alpesh

 

 

 

Shaws Little League and Brain Development

Shaws Little League and Brain Development

During our sessions, our coaches tell the children to “control their bodies” during our classes.  Why do we do this?

It’s nothing to do with sports skill, but instead about brain development.  We want the children to really know who is the boss of their body.  A child’s sports skills will improve as the brain develops further.  The brain is made up of a number of parts, all of which have different roles in helping our body operate.  Below are some details on how Shaws Little League can positively impact on various parts of a child’s brain.
Cerebrum – this is the thinking part of the brain which helps to control voluntary muscles amongst other things.  The cerebrum helps children to organise their thoughts, reasoning and logic. If we take Golf as an example – children (and adults) do not usually have the perfect golf swing from the start.  However we do know that all children can do the five basic things of the golf swing, i.e. Put their hands together, have their feet still, have their arms straight, watch the stationary ball and swing.  However combining those five basics into a sequence can be very difficult.  Our role as coaches is to help children continually use the Cerebrum part of their brain to aid in sports skill development. We really are facilitating the children figuring things out for themselves and at the same time, helping to develop their brain.
It is the same for soccer and throwing activities – whilst it may look funny seeing the children use their other foot/arm to kick/throw the ball – the whole purpose in getting the children to do this is to help their Cerebrum develop – both through being able to co-ordinate their bodies and dealing with the anxiety of doing something different.  Of course afterwards, the children are quite happy knowing that they can use their other foot, arm successfully too.  
Cerebellum – this part of the brain helps in balancing, movement and co-ordination.  We do the “stretching" activities after the children have performed their movement skills to help develop their Cerebellum.  
Brain Stem – the Brain Stem is the part of the brain that allows you to perform the basic needs - breathing, digesting and blood circulation and also sends messages the rest of our bodies via our spine.  To aid in the development of the brain stem, we get the children to slow their movements down – think body and arm rotations, leg swings, golf hitting, cricket batting.
Pituitary Gland – this guy produces and releases hormones which aid in muscle development and body growth.  Well, we are all sure you have heard the coaches encouraging your children to try hard, run fast, the jumping forwards and backwards, side to side etc – basically getting the children to play at high intensity.  Research and evidence suggests that exercising at high intensity helps in Pituitary Gland development.
Hypothalamus – the thermostat that tells our body to sweat or makes us shiver.  Together with diet and rest, exercise helps to keep the hypothalamus healthy. Remember all those sweaty hugs you get at the end of the class - that’s how we know that this part of the brain is working nicely.
To summarise, the whole idea about our coaches telling the children to control their bodies is to help their brain to reduce involuntary movements – kicking cones over, crashing into other children, falling, lack of self regulation of emotions, reactions and awareness and instead learn positive movements and actions.  This control over their body will also lead to better sports skill development.
Reduced involuntary movements and increased skill development help to develop a happy, confident and co-ordinated child.  
As you can see, our programme is not about winning awards, trophies and certificates.  We are much more serious than that.  Of course we are not so up ourselves to suggest that children should not attend school and just attend a sports programme.  However the point we are trying to make is that sport and physical activity should be a part of a child’s life, just the same as language, maths and all those other exciting subjects that they learn at school.
However, as always we will never let the children know how serious we are (it’s our little secret).  To them, it’s just a chance to run around, play sport, make friends and have fun.  
Thanks once again for bringing your children to Shaws Little League – More Than Sport.
See you all soon.

Is My Child Good?

Is My Child Good?

"Is My Child Good?"

 

As parents, is this the question that keeps us up late at night, have the additional glass of wine or play on our thoughts of helicopter-ing or tiger-ing?

 

At Shaws Little League, we have outcomes for all children based on their age that all of our coaches must help the children to attain.  Of course they work hard to  help your child to exceed those outcomes too!

 

If we think of famous athletes like Usain Bolt, Cristiano Ronaldo, Virat Kohli, Roger Federer, Mia Hamm and Lydia Ko, we would probably describe them as being good.  It is fair to say that all of us and our children have a fair way to go in order to be as good as these athletes.

 

As you will all know, being “good” is all relative.

 

But really, how do we assess whether a child is “good”? - At the start of each class at Shaws Little League, our coaches get the children to promise to do three things - “Listen, play hard and play nicely” - to us, if the children can do these three things, they will be good.  Not just at sport, but at whatever they choose to do.

 

Why do we focus on these three things?

 

“Listen"

Listening to clear and simple instructions help the children to channel their eagerness, excitement and anticipation into what is important and how to get better.  They are also more focused on the task at hand and more aware of potential safety risks.

 

"Play hard”

We have found that children respond more positively to the word “play” than “try” - however to us, they both mean the same thing.  Play hard – that vein popping, sweating, cheeks reddening, lung bursting, muscle aching joy of playing sport. Playing hard brings in notions of grit, determination, perseverance, continuous improvement and learning from failure and setbacks.

 

“Play nicely"

We emphasise play nicely as this helps the children with communicating, being gracious winners, dealing with losing, packing up, helping other children and just being aware and thinking of others too.

 

So if the children do these three things, would they be as good as those famous athletes? Probably not in the short term.  If those famous athletes do not continue to do these three things, then we are pretty sure that someone else will take their place as being more “good”.

 

The phrase provides our children with expectations of their behaviour and how we manage the children throughout their various ups and downs that they may have during their time at Shaws Little League.  We know that if the kids can do these three things, there is no doubt that they will continually exceed expectations – both ours and yours.

 

See you at Shaws Little League soon.

 

 

When It's OK To Lose....

When It's OK To Lose....

Not everyone can win all the time, even if you try hard.  Sport allows children to learn valuable life lessons through winning and losing.  The FIFA World Cup 2018 showed that two skilled teams playing hard, showing skill and tactics, there is still a winner and a loser.

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Why Children Should Play Sport

Why Children Should Play Sport

There are many reasons why children should play sport that can help them in their school and future.  Sport really is more than just what happens on the field.

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Featured products

Multisport
Our very popular multisport programme exposes children to a wide variety of sports.
Soccer Soccer
Our soccer programme is developmentally appropriate and it follows the same principles of our multisport programme.
Golf
We aim to help each child improve their swing with our advanced golf software.

News

Covid Update

Covid Update

May 07, 2021

  As we all know, our group sizes have been reduced from 8 to 5 for the next few weeks...

Read more →

Is My Child Good at Sport?

Is My Child Good at Sport?

March 05, 2021

A question we are often asked by parents is “Is my child good at sport?”   If you ask me,...

Read more →