Throughout the project, we have involved a sport psychologist to have a professional perspective on several areas that the project deals with. Our sport psychologist had been continuously involved in the project, actively participating in different tasks, such as observing practices, communicating with players, coaches, PE teachers about various problems, and carefully developed advice and solutions.
Maintaining players/children in the sport (how to reduce drop outs)
One of the main goals of the project is to develop badminton into a mass sport. In order to do that, we partly focused on decreasing the number of dropouts. With the help of the sport psychologist, we identified the possible reasons of children quitting badminton, and came up with solutions that can possible decrease the rate of dropouts.
One of the reasons for dropouts in our experience is practices being boring, monotonous and unmotivating.
Coaches and PE teachers need to identify if there is a lack of enthusiasm between the children and then need to introduce measures that target this issue. In most cases, even small changes both on and off the court at practices can significantly increase the motivation and excitement of players to come to practice. One of the biggest motivating factors is the social aspect the sport. With the help of the sport psychologist, coaches and PE teachers need to introduce the importance of social life in badminton. Activities that highlight team spirit are highly valuable: cheering for each other at tournaments, having battle-cry, warming up together as a team, organising event off the court…eg.If coaches and PE teachers put a bigger emphasis on the importance of the social life around the badminton court, players will develop friendships and belonging to a social group, they will feel like they are an important member of the team, which can greatly decrease the risk of dropping out. Furthermore, coaches and PE teachers should put in a bigger effort to make the badminton practices more exciting: according to the sport psychologist, the use of music during sport activities can be extremely beneficial for the players. Music can increase the level of energy of players and can put them in a better mood. Other elements, such as having a club t-shirt, small rewards, acknowledgments, an increased attention on media of the sport club can all lead to a better training environment, and thus decrease the number of dropouts.
Another issue that has lead to dropouts is due to lack of training partners in the same level. We have met several cases, where the player lacked partners on his or her level at badminton practices. He/she either lost matches to players of higher level or he/she easily beat players of lower level, which lead to the player eventually quitting the sport.
This is a case that many sports clubs with smaller number of players experience. The lack of players in the same age or gender group can lead to big differences between the players in terms of the level of the game, which understandably can cause problems in practices. In order to reduce the number of dropouts due to this issue, the sport psychologist and coaches introduced a handicap system that they tried to implement in exercises and matches. The handicap system creates advantageous to the weaker players and disadvantageous to the stronger player, thus creating a balance between the players on court. This makes the players feel more equal regardless of their different levels and skills, which means that they feel more comfortable at practice and don’t feel like they are left out.
An important area of the project deals with creating equal opportunities, which means involving children from all social statuses and both genders. We have paid special attention to girls in sport, as there is generally a higher dropout rate between girls than boys in sport. Keeping girls in the sport will increase the number of children playing, which thus contributes to badminton becoming a mass sport, plus it provides a wider base for future top players. In order to maintain a satisfying number of girls in the sport, the sport psychologist focused on the mental conditions of girls, while developing a cooperation with the coaches and PE teachers.
Coaches and PE teachers also need differentiate between each and every individual. Each player is different and needs to be treated according to their own individual personalities and skills. Some need extra attention from coaches or PE teachers, some are more independent. Some can handle a bigger training load and are ambitious about reaching goals, while other might come practice only for fun and are not interested in training hard. The individual feature of the players need to be identified by the coaches and PE teachers. Communication is crucial. Having an open and honest communication between the coaches and players is extremely necessary for both parties. It makes players feel important and a valuable member of the club or school. Most efficient communication is in person, but a great way to do it can be on the online platform, where coaches and PE teachers can share shorter and simpler evaluations and tips with the players.
Obviously, parents have a huge influence on the children’s sports life. They can have a positive impact, but they can also have a negative impact if their attitude to the sport does not reflect their children’s attitude. According to our sport psychologist, it is crucial for clubs and schools to maintain a good relationship with the players’ parents. If the parents feel involved, and feel like they are an important part of the club life, they will develop a better relationship with the sport, which will have a positive impact on the players’ attitude, too.
We also encourage parents to participate in voluntary activities. While it is important that parents feel appreciated, they should not get involved in the professional aspects of badminton, such as coaching, exercises, tournaments. Those are the tasks of the coach. Unfortunately, we have experienced that parents wanted to play a bigger role than they should which lead to a negative relationship between them and their children. According to our sport psychologist, clubs and schools can reduce the number of these cases if they communicate their expectations to them properly, for example through parent-teacher (coach) meetings, personal talks, and emails that inform parents about the club life and the progression of their children.
The sport psychologist played crucial role in the project, as he has helped identifying problems like above, came up with useful suggestions and helped incorporating those in practice. We made sure the knowledge coming from these good practices are shared between the organizations, that is why including the sport psychologist’s improvements, we created articles which describe the positive experiences of the clubs, so that other organizations can learn from them.
Developing E platform with sport psychologist
Besides the above mentioned, we developed the E platform (badmintonplus) with the cooperation of the sport psychologist. The goal was to create a platform, where players can learn about badminton and sport in general in a fun way instead of just providing reading materials. That is why we developed quizzes with the help of a sport psychologist and created a point and award system.
The questions in the quizzes start with relatively easy questions, which creates a sense of achievement in kids quickly, and then we increase the difficulty of the question.
Based on the experience of coaches, we considered those areas of the sport where players lack some knowledge, and incorporated those in the quizzes.
We made sure the quizzes incorporate lots of photos and videos to make it more appealing to the children.
The inclusion of hints in the quizzes are very important contributors in the process of learning.
Some kids might use google to find out an answer, but that’s is completely fine, because the point is that he or she will have more knowledge.
We made the quizzes with the goal of a best possible learning experience, that is why many of the questions appear more than one time. This makes students remember the knowledge they gained from questions more effectively.
We did not create only badminton specific questions, but also questions related to general sport knowledge.
Further elements implemented in the E platform based on the suggestions of the sport psychologist:
rewards in person
development of the logo