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.