The beauty of sport is the opportunity it gives the educator to support all round whole-person development, which includes but is not limited to the promotion of physical health.
The accepted narrative that PE is all about physical activity in primary schools is a narrow one, as it underestimates the full spectrum of learning opportunities that PE has to offer. Broadening understanding and introducing sport psychology into PE frameworks has the capacity to develop greater self-confidence and transform how pupils see themselves in and outside of sport giving them invaluable tools they can apply throughout life.
Athletes recognise the value of mindset in training and performance, learning and adopting psychological skills to reach their full potential. Evidence from sport psychology literature confirms and supports the integration of psychological skills for children aged 7-11.
Including psychological outcomes is an approach teachers can adopt in addition to physical outcomes providing a valuable contribution to other areas of development:
Cognitive development – decision-making, problem-solving, organising, effective thinking.
Social Awareness – communication, sharing and understanding, working in a group, managing conflict.
Emotional development – Enhancing confidence, self-awareness, motivation, self-compassion.
School Sport Psychology (SSP) is a series of 20 short fun animated videos each less than 5 minutes long consisting of 5 modules MIND, DRIVE, COMMUNICATION, EMOTIONS and ME. It is the brain child of Helen Davis a qualified sports psychologist www.think.believe.perform.co.uk and a teacher with 25 years experience and Liz Barker a former Blue Peter presenter who participated in high pressured sports events and interviewed many stars of the sporting world during her 6 years on the programme. They both believe passionately that every child can ‘think better, be better’
Each video highlights an area to focus on and practise and a psychological challenge is given at the end to try in the lesson, there are accompanying teacher notes to encourage discussion. The videos can be shown multiple times and can run alongside PSHE lessons.
The response from pupils, teachers, parents, and educators has been overwhelmingly in favour when trialled nationally.
“We need SSP at the moment, now more than ever, it is vital”.
“We would love primary PE teachers to think differently and incorporate sport psychology into primary PE offering pupils life and learning skills mirrored by those in elite sport so that the holistic nature of PE is not neglected.”
“School Sport Psychology is a very powerful tool for PE,”
“I think it’s really important and valuable to teach psychology to children at this age, it’s helps them to learn who they are”
“School Sport Psychology is a great way for children to think about themselves and for their lives in general. The earlier you start the better it is”
“We have used the messages from the videos in other contexts too. By looking at things psychologically, the children are thinking carefully about what part they or others can play”
“Having a psychological outcome gave our PE lessons a solid beginning, middle and end. The children went out with a specific goal and achieved a sense of pride when they achieved it, it gave them something tangible to achieve in the lesson”
“Having the psychological challenges for the children felt the lesson was less fractured. With the pandemic and everything going on some children have sat back – and it’s given us the opportunity to discuss feelings, feel more positive, we’ve had a higher level of engagement and it’s made a noticeable and massive improvement to them”
“The difference in confidence is huge”
“There are lasting skills here for children to learn”
If you would like to learn more about sport psychology and the part it can play in PE, information, testimonials, and a sample video are available on the website www.schoolsportpsychology.co.uk
BE the change