“Just Let The Kids Play”

Junior Netball Resource

Just Let The Kids Play” Bob Bigelow – Reviewed By Anne Nicholson, Junior Netball Development

At the recent Netball New Zealand Community Development Conference we were privileged to listen to and talk to Bob Bigelow on SKYPE.

This book was recommended to us to read and once I opened the first page I couldn’t put it down. It makes you look at junior sport Just Let the Kids Play - Bob Bigelowthrough the eyes of the child. What is important to them and what will keep them participating in sport while developing their skills. I believe the new Junior Netball Programme is child focussed, will increase participation in netball and develop the skills of all players while having fun with their friends. Fun is the most important ingredient of all for the children

Below are some comments from the book that may help you relook at your approach to Junior Netball and encourage you to read the book in full. It may also be a good resource for parents in your community who are so “win at all cost’ focussed. They may realise that this approach can be so detrimental to the enjoyment and development of their children in sport.

Page 15. “Your children play sports to have fun and to fulfil their needs to socialize, work with teammates, try out new skills and grow. Your children are there to be true to their own sense of self, not yours”.

Page 43. “Spontaneous play. Creativity. A love of the game. Freedom to take risks. These are the ingredients of great games and great players. These qualities do not require a system of select teams. As you’ve read, these qualities are often stifled by an elite system in which a coach, putting himself or herself under pressure to win, begins choreographing instead of coaching.”

Page 81. “Sometimes too much training, too much coaching and specialisation at young ages develops bad playing habits that are harder to fix at older ages.”

Page 120. “They (American College of Sports Medicine and the International Federation of Sports Medicine and the World Health Organisation) recommend more education for parents and coaches about injury risks and child development issues, as well as national standards for coaches’ training and certification…..The guidelines also caution adults not to place too much emphasis on winning…..The recommendations suggest that rules for adult games be modified for children, as should the length of playing times, and the size of playing fields and equipment.”

Page 169. “Adult bench kids to win games. That’s the adult want. The children’s need is to have a chance to develop as players. You can’t do that sitting on a bench.”

Page 201. “Make sure all your players, of every shape and height, participate in all positions and in all skills. Don’t typecast your players according to the positions you think they are best suited for now. That ten-year-old who is below average in size and height may be the tallest, strongest one on your high school varsity squad. Give her a chance at centre (basketball) too. She may grow twelve inches before her senior year. Don’t judge her now”.

Page 214 “Winning isn’t worth cheating”.

Happy reading.

Anne Nicholson – Junior Netball Development Officer – Netball Northern Zone


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