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Distance Learning: Sports Edition

Updated: Apr 17, 2020



THE KIDS ARE ALRIGHT

After weeks of getting our homes setup for distance learning and working environments, we’re learning more about technology, and ourselves, than ever before. For some of us this isn’t new but there are others who are struggling to adapt. But have you noticed the demographic that has acclimated just fine?


That’s right, the students.


By definition, distance learning is a way of learning remotely without being in regular face-to-face contact with a teacher in the classroom. Technology makes this possible and if you’ve had children in the school system over the past 15 years, you’ve likely seen how technology is already embedded in the classroom.


Today’s youth has grown up on technology so it’s a platform they are comfortable with, and in most cases prefer. Schools are using various learning apps, and devices are even issued to some older students to use away from the classroom. And as I watch my kids join their on-line class groups, I’m seeing the students (some as young as 7) help their teachers navigate this technology adventure!


So if there’s one group of people we shouldn’t be too concerned about coming out of this remote learning exercise it’s the kids. (Parents on the other hand - well that’s a whole different article.)


THE VALUE OF SPORTS

As evidenced in good ol' newspapers, sports tend to be tertiary, hidden in Section C behind the more important news from the world and business. Similarly, you likely prioritized your remote “office” and your children’s new “school” setup before giving much thought to their cancelled or delayed sports leagues.


While this is understandable, we can’t lose focus on the extracurriculars, whether it’s sports, drama, art, or many others. Kids need an outlet of “play” which is a critical component of their cognitive development. And sports are a perfect outlet that can offer so much more.

For instance, there are significant social benefits from participating in sports, with data showing more positive long-term outcomes. Leaders are built in youth sports, and the opportunity to deal with failure helps prepare them for the world ahead.


Even viewing sports as a spectator has value. Communities rally around their local sports teams and many fans of professional sports claim they rely on it as a relief from the stress of day-to-day life. Both of these factors played a large role in uniting the country when sports returned to action after 9/11.


So we can't take our eye off the ball.


Let’s take a look at how the wide world of sports is managing their students through this crisis.


THE VIRTUAL COACH

As coaches, we’re faced with the same challenges as teachers (some hold both titles), looking for ways to keep our players engaged and ready to return when possible. We don’t know what our season will look like when it returns, so we need to get creative with how we stay connected with our teams.


Coaches are scouring the internet, looking for easy plug-and-play content they can send to their players. Videos of exercises or drills specific to your sport can give players some guidance and provide structured goals to work on. Some programs are even posting these physical challenges to their social media feeds, motivating players to stay strong and focused.


So keeping players physically active should be relatively easy with the exception of access to space. But even in the smallest spaces, there are suitable exercises that will keep the body fit.


Then there’s the mental side of sports which can’t be overlooked. Staying sharp mentally is as important as physically. Coaches commit a significant amount of energy and time teaching fundamental concepts, building smarter players. This knowledge is typically delivered on the field in practice or in the classroom during film session. So without access to either of these options, what can you do?


Technology steps up again. Like the many educational apps used in schools today, sports curriculums can be delivered through learning apps. Athletes learn on their own time, in their own environment, and at a pace they’re comfortable with. <