Developing motor skill competency is a cornerstone of self-esteem. Mastering movement also fosters self-confidence, which is the basis of motivation to sustain physical activity participation. While genetics can predispose the ability to develop elite proficiencies, skills do not automatically develop unless practiced -- even the most gifted movers won’t maximize their potential without repetition. But whether destined for the record books or the recreational league, the key to practice is realizing success. This means modifying equipment, space and rules to match ability. Here are the basics about how to modify.
Equipment modification includes using slower moving and lighter implements until skills warrant using those faster moving and heavier. For example, balloons move much slower than footballs so are easier for beginners to catch. Over-sized plastic bats are lighter than aluminum bats and tend to have a larger sweat-spot making them easier for beginners to manipulate and more likely they will make contact.
Space modification includes manipulating the size of the area in which the skill is executed. This can mean lowering the net, increasing the size of the target, or standing closer to the target.
Rule modification includes adjusting game-play to match the players’ level of skill mastery. A tennis lead-up game is allowing for two bounces instead of one, and a volleyball lead-up game is allowing the ball to bounce once on the court before being returned across the net.
Practice makes perfect, but better yet ensure perfect practice by modifying equipment, space and rules to match developmental ability. The success realized will optimize skill mastery and foster motivation to sustain physical activity participation. And never forget, no one is ever too old to hone their motor skills.
For more information, please see Children Moving: A Reflective Approach to Teaching Physical Education with Movement Analysis Wheel, 9th Edition. http://www.amazon.com/Children-Moving-Reflective-Approach-Education/dp/0077626532