by Mitch M.
Society today creates many opportunities for youth to learn basic skills that will help them through their lives. Participating in recreation and sport can help teach basic motor skills and cognitive abilities (Malina, 2012). Youth participating in different types of sport and recreation activities broadens their abilities to learn. There are many different facilities that offer sport and recreation opportunities like aquatic centers and gymnasiums. Each facility allows for a new activity, but also creates a new environment for participants. Environments can generate new emotions that can negatively affect youth.
Fear is an emotion that everyone develops through their lives and learning to overcome or cope with this can be difficult. For the past six years I have been teaching swimming lessons for ages 1-70. Through my experiences I have seen multiple cases of youth and adults having some fear of water. This fear could vary from being nervous in the water to getting scared thinking about it. Many parents put their children in swimming to learn the basics and to get over the fear of water. I have also been told directly by a parent that “it is a skill everyone should learn”. As a teacher my job is to help overcome this fear, and how to successfully achieve this means determining several factors this environment enables.
Every person is different and I feel as psychological safety has a major impact on the individual in new environments. Most individuals that come to swimming lessons already scared of the water have had some sort of experience with it already. If this is the case, as a teacher, I want to change the environment to make it more enjoyable. One of the techniques I use is adding toys and a table to stand on that allows them to move through on their own without their face being near the water. This creates an environment where they can develop a sense of safety and independence which are two assets important for youth development (Johnston, Harwood, & Minniti 2013).
Another important factor that creates an issue in sport and recreation environments for some is other participants. Youth tend to find supportive relationships to be a main contribution to a positive experience. Ashauer and Macan (2013) explain that goal setting is an important to implicate in any recreation or sport program. Making a goal helps participants develop a plan they are all trying to achieve. If taking swimming lessons as an example; each child is looking forward to passing and learning to swim. You also tend to see encouragement from other participants when a goal is reached. Having this support allows for a positive environment to be created which in the end helps increase the chances of participants being successful.
Ashauer, S. A., & Macan, T. (2013). How Can Leaders Foster Team Learning? Effects of Leader-Assigned Mastery and Performance Goals and Psychological Safety. Journal Of Psychology, 147(6), 541-561.
Johnston, J., Harwood, C., & Minniti, A. M. (2013). Positive Youth Development in Swimming: Clarification and Consensus of Key Psychosocial Assets. Journal Of Applied Sport Psychology, 25(4), 392-411.
Malina, R. M. (2012). Movement proficiency in childhood: Implications for physical activity and youth sport. Kinesiologia Slovenica, 18(3), 19-34.