Progression and regression – when is the right time to move forwards or move back?

When we are able to complete the original task set out by our coaches, we always want to improve our skill set and move on to the next challenge. However, each individual differs in the amount of time that it takes to ‘master’ a skill, movement of play or tactic.

Progressing a drill to make it a harder task for the individual or group is a great way to encourage and motivate children and young people who want to challenge themselves and see if they can execute the technique and relevant tactics correctly. It not only engages them to try and complete the activity set out but also allows them to have lots and lots of go’s, incorporating kinaesthetic learning and muscle memory.

However, sometimes as coaches we may need to use regression if an individual or group aren’t succeeding in the task. Taking a step back will encourage higher chances of success as well as improving their understanding. Progression and regression don’t just apply to a drill or practice but also whilst using equipment., for example, using different sized basketballs to pass and receive the ball.

Being able to teach a class and use both progression and regression techniques is an important tool for coaches to use as it means that the lesson outcomes can still be met across all of the students in a variety of ways. It also creates a sense of ownership, achievement and satisfaction for all of the children as one way or another, they have completed the task successfully.

How healthy is competition?

Competition is positioned at two ends of the spectrum: at one, competition is just for fun and is all about taking part, the latter – you win at all costs.

Teaching the qualities of competition to young children can at times be difficult because they may have already adopted one of these two characteristics and therefore it is important for us as coaches and parents to find the balance and guide and teach them all of the immense elements that competition offers.

Winning presents a mixture of emotions; pride, happiness, success and a sense of feeling proud. Yes, we play because we want to win however winning gracefully is the key which is highly respected amongst our peers as opposed to those individuals and teams winning at all costs.

Competing holds great importance as it provides motivation to achieve a goal; demonstrates determination and perseverance and teaches those to understand that hard work and commitment leads to a greater chance of success. It is also important to teach children that taking part, trying your best and enjoying each moment is also crucial which creates good memories and positive experiences. It also enhances social skills and develops relationships but can at the same time hinder them.

Some children are more competitive than others which is a natural trait and one we should never tamper with but we must make sure that we include and cater for everybody during competition, manage expectations as well as manage the outcome either way. Losing overall teaches us much more than winning but provides children with how to think critically and develop their skills to continue to compete in the future.

Therefore, moving forwards we should always encourage competition and guide and teach a healthy approach where children can take ownership and understand that participating is fun but that they can also create goals for self and team improvement to gain success through competing.


Girl Power!

Sport has always been predominantly viewed as a male orientated sport at both a participation level as well as at a coaching level. Therefore, because of this impact, children are usually likely to be used to being taught by a male coach.

Sports Coach UK found that only 30% of females make up the coaching workforce which overall is a very small amount. However, despite this statistic, female sport is most definitely on the rise.

With campaigns such as This Girl Can promoting the benefits of sport and coaching, this Summers successes of the England Lionesses and the England Ladies Cricket Team, and GB Hockey making history and winning the World Cup in 2016, more girls are not only taking part in sport and getting active but more females are changing their career path and qualifying as coaches.

We are a diverse organisation and want to make an impact amongst every child’s life and we have some really inspirational female coaches working with us this year, delivering PE and extended day clubs to primary school children across the Capital and the surrounding counties.

Jo Wilson – Forward at London Bees

 Jo has been working with The Elms for the past year, starting off on our apprentice programme. Jo is an exceptional football player and currently plays for the London Bees in the Women’s Super League where she is currently the top goal scorer this season. She has previously played for Watford and Queens Park Rangers Ladies and in 2016, won the top goal scorer award at the FA’s Women’s Football Awards.

 Jo loves coaching and working and developing younger players and uses her experience to encourage and engage them to get them more active!

Zimeng Wu – England Lacrosse – Under 19s

Zim is an all-rounder and plays not only to a high standard of tennis but is also a very avid and passionate lacrosse player. She plays for a local lacrosse club but also for England Lacrosse, Under 19s. She is an attacker and this summer played at the Lacrosse World Cup Festival at Surrey Sports Park where the team just lost out in the final.

 Zim started working with us this term and is taking a gap year before she goes to an American University on a scholarship next year. Although there is a significant difference between playing to coaching, she has really enjoyed working with lots of children and sharing her passion and knowledge within sport.

Chloe Spiteri – Commonwealth Games and British Champion in Wrestling

Chloe recently started working with us this term and is the only senior female wrestler in London. She started wrestling at University and within 6 months was the National Junior Champion. To date, she has been a 6x British Champion and is still in the national team. She is competing to qualify for the for the upcoming Commonwealth Games. Chloe loves competing and is extremely dedicate to her training. She always maintains professional standards and these and these qualities are reflected when she is coaching.

A coach, no matter what gender, is an inspirational and motivational individual who not only teaches sport but also becomes that child’s role model and continues to encourage and engage their students for life. We are right behind every one of our coaches journey and look forward to continuing to raise the profile of female coaches!



Get active this half term!

Half term is a great opportunity to take a break and relax but it is also important to keep active and not become sluggish.

Why not mix the week up with day trips, catch ups with friends and our multi-sports camps that we are running this October half term at different venues across London?!

We have plenty of activities for your children to take part in, which range from a variety of different sports and games! And they are open to everyone from the age of four so why not bring a friend or your little brother or sister?

Sport is not only a great release but also a great way of learning new skills, developing and improving existing techniques and socialising with different people.

Here’s just a selection of some of the sports that our coaches provide throughout the week: –

  • Football
  • Basketball
  • Netball
  • Benchball
  • Dodgeball
  • Cricket
  • Tennis
  • Golf
  • TAG rugby

Our coaching team encourage every child and make each experience memorable! So much so that we always have lots of regulars that come back to our camps!

Why not have a look to see what activities we are running for your child next week –

Building partnerships, working together and achieving our goal of increasing activity!

Partnerships are a great way for two or more companies to reach a wider audience, use both their expertise and share resources to be able to meet their primary objectives.

In our case, this includes getting more young people active through different sports, from different communities and from all different levels of ability.

This year, we at The Elms Sport in Schools have continued to build and grow our existing partnerships with The Golf Trust and Maccabi GB, aiming to meet these objectives and encourage even more young people to lead a healthy and active lifestyle.

Maccabi GB are Britain’s leading Anglo-Jewish Sports, Health and Wellbeing Charity which has flourished for nearly 80 years. Providing many different projects, Maccabi also work in many Jewish primary and secondary schools across London.

In the last year, Maccabi and The Elms have worked together, providing high quality coaches to deliver physical education and extended day clubs to all year groups, maximising activity levels and allowing students to take part in a variety of different sports across the National Curriculum.

We have also been working alongside The Golf Trust, who deliver inclusive golf to all age groups who are also guided by their own three key aims; removing barriers, promoting golf and engaging people.

After half term, The Elms and The Golf Trust will be delivering SNAG golf sessions, (start new at golf) for Key Stage 2 children to local primary schools across the borough, teaching them the fundamentals and key disciplines required.

This is a great way for those to try out and learn more about golf, especially if they have never played it before. There are plenty of exit routes to continue learning and playing the sport at local clubs.

Working together is an important way of delivering the key criteria that each organisation aims to meet as well as creating and building a community together.

We are proud to work with organisations that not only encourage but also inspire others and look forward to all of our forthcoming projects together.


Sport spotlight – Hockey – get your sticks at the ready!

This terms sport spotlight is hockey, an invasion game played with two teams, where each player uses a hockey stick. The aim of the game is for each team to score as many goals as possible in to the opponent’s goal.

Last year, hockey was put on a pedestal, where both the International GB men’s and women’s team competed at the 2016 Rio Olympics. With great effort from both, the women’s team made British history, winning their first ever gold medal in an extremely tense penalty shootout.

With such an achievement, the media coverage that surrounded the teams triumph increased the awareness around the sport.

However, it’s still likely that if you asked a class of primary school children, ‘who plays for a hockey team?’, the answer is most likely not many, IF any at all. More popular sports such as football and dance overshadow it.

It’s fair to say though that since the 2016 gold medal win, there has been a greater interest in hockey due to its publicity which helps local clubs grow the game at a grassroots level.

Hockey has been adapted for primary schools, using Quicksticks rules and equipment, where children can still learn the skills needed to play.

These rules are varied and are age appropriate, where there are two teams of six, with four actively playing. Goalkeepers are not used, which means everyone’s playing time is longer. The players that are not on the pitch officiate and manage the game, encouraging fair play. The rules of the game are still applied but are not as in depth as a full 11-aside game.

Hockey is a sport that uses many different skills and qualities. Players must be able to pass, dribble, block, shoot, attack and defend which incorporates skills such as agility, speed, strength and stamina. Hand eye co-ordination is also important as you are doing two or more movements at once.

However, it isn’t just the physical skills needed that make a good hockey player. The GB women’s team displayed a great sense of integrity, teamwork and support for one another and these social skills are vital in all team sports.

Here’s to more success for GB Hockey in their upcoming events and to continuing to develop young players and follow in their footsteps.


Get your career in the fast lane and become an apprentice!

It’s at this time of the year that the focus again is shifted towards all young adults who need to start planning ahead for the following year with regards to education, and choosing what to do can be both difficult and overwhelming.

We now understand in greater detail the needs and interests of these young adults and some may not wish to continue their studies in school.

Apprenticeship programmes have now become increasingly popular and are a great option to consider. Schools and colleges understand the needs of each of their students and support them with the decisions that are right for them.

The government have heavily invested time and money into these schemes with schools and employers which creates an active learning environment for young adults to work full time, receive on the job training and experience, a salary and have the opportunity to gain a qualification.

Working within an apprenticeship programme can develop all the work-related skills needed for a young adult starting a career as well as continuing to develop their social and communication skills in the workplace.

This academic year, we welcome another group of young apprentices on to our very own programme, run in partnership with accredited training provider SCL. This term alone, we have employed fifteen young adults who will gain professional training from our team of experienced senior coaches gaining a BTEC Level 2 or 3 in primary school sport.

For those that want to get involved in a career early on, follow their passion and be around like-minded people, an apprenticeship is the right step forwards.

To date, we have had over sixteen apprentices follow on to full time work who are now coaching in their own schools and extended day clubs.

If you are looking in to starting an apprenticeship, we recommend taking these steps: –

  1. Consider why you want to do an apprenticeship?
  2. Ask yourself what career you would like to go in to?
  3. Speak with careers services at school or college to find out more information about that career and apprentice schemes.
  4. Search for employers who offer an apprenticeship scheme that you would like to go in to?
  5. Apply!



It’s as easy as ABC!

What are ABC’s and what are their importance to a young person’s development?

We’re definitely not talking about the alphabet here but developing ABCs are vital to develop the physical literacy of a child. To be able to develop this physical literacy, a child should first be able to execute fundamental movement skills.

Physical literacy is defined as mastering the fundamental movement and sport skills that allow a child to read their environment and make appropriate decisions, moving confidently and with control in a wide range of sporting situations.

The ABCs which make up the fundamentals required stand for agility, balance, co-ordination and speed.

The focus for a coach to develop these ABC’s especially at a younger age are key and coaches use lots of different activities and games during their sessions that engage, emphasise and develop these actions.

We can group these movement skills into three categories, Locomotor skills, Object skills and Body Control skills.

Locomotor Skills: involve the body moving any direction from one point to another, e.g. walking, running, skipping, hopping, jumping.

Body/Stability Skills: involves the body balancing either in one place (static) or while in motion (dynamic).

Object Skills: involve handling and controlling objects with the hand, foot or an implement (stick, bat, racquet) and include throwing, catching, striking (hands, feet).

As coaches and teachers, we must understand that fundamental movement skills must be learned before fundamental sport skills as each sport has its own particular set of traits.

When playing basketball, the skills needed may include stance, footwork, dribbling, passing, shooting and making good decisions on the court and this will differ to playing tennis or any other sport.

There is now even more emphasis on developing ABC’s during PE lessons and extended day clubs as it has been found that when children get older, their ability to execute such movements are still limited. Children who lack the fundamental movement skills are likely to experience frustration and difficulty learning more advanced skills, reducing their enjoyment of sport and physical activity.

Our Elms Sport in Schools curriculum has been carefully designed to work with children of all ages where our coaches specifically focus part of their session on developing these movements which are also further emphasised during the sport that they are teaching.

Our aim is to encourage all young people to continue to be active and play sport confidently and enjoy it for the rest of their lives and these fundamental skills are just the foundations of their learning.

Autumn term preview – invasion games. What are they?

Monday 4th September was D-Day – a sign of the new school year and a new start to term with the summer holidays a long distant memory.

With the air on the playground now that bit brisker, the Autumn term’s PE curriculum proves to be busy. The key focus for PE lessons this term are invasion games, a variety of team based sports that focus on attacking the opponent’s territory to score either a goal or point.

They are fast paced and use lots of different skills which include keeping possession, scoring, defending and teamwork.

Some of the sports the children will cover this term include football, hockey, rugby, netball, handball and basketball.

Each sport has a different set of rules, techniques and tactics but all play a vital role in a young person’s development. Being able to understand each sport is key but many of these skills are transferable.

For example, when sending and receiving an object, there may be a difference in the physical shape and size between a rugby ball and a basketball but being able to send the ball consistently with accuracy to your teammate with the correct weight according to the distance is relevant to both sports.

Additionally, being able to travel in different directions is as important on both the offensive and defensive side but also in other sports including tennis where you have to quickly move and change direction based on the type of shot received.

Although all sports that require ball handling require hand eye co-ordination, football uses foot-eye co-ordination where vision controls the movement of the foot with proven research from the Institute for Neurology, London. It also allows players to do a variety of skills which includes pinpointing passes, dribbling and controlling the ball.

Our Key Stage 1 (KS1) year groups will be working on ball skills, which include throwing and catching, tracking a ball and travelling with a ball at feet as well as learning to run in straight lines and change direction, all of  which lead up to and are the fundamentals of invasion games.

Communicating and playing fairly with the right manner will be emphasised during every session across every sport. We all know that the stakes are raised during matches and the intensity of competition becomes greater but teaching our children to maintain a fair and level-headed approach in all situations is regarded one of the most important and influential traits for any athlete.

This term, all year groups that we coach throughout primary school will have had the chance to learn either a new sport or continue their knowledge and greater their understanding in a sport that they have previously learnt with our team of coaches. Who knows, we could be unlocking the potential of the next Dele Alli, Owen Farrell or Ama Agbeze.