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Dr Dan Parnell

FOOTBALL, SPORT, SOCIAL CHANGE, POLICY, MANAGEMENT

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Children, youth and physical activity – in schools during leisure time

This post was originally posted on Connect Sport here.

An international meeting of 24 international researchers from a variety of academic disciplines took place at a ‘Consensus Conference’ in Denmark in April 2016. In this article Dr Dan Parnell, Research Director for ConnectSport, offers an overview of the consensus statement and highlights some of the important recommendations for researchers and practitioners in community sport.

The aim of the meeting was to reach evidence-based consensus about physical activity in children and youth, that is, individuals between six and 18 years.

How can we describe physical activity?

Physical activity is an over-arching term that consists of many structured and unstructured forms within school and out-of-school-time contexts, including organised sport, physical education, outdoor recreation, motor skill development programmes, recess and active transportation such as biking and walking.

What does the consensus statement offer?

The consensus statement presents the accord on the effects of physical activity on children’s and youth’s fitness, health, cognitive functioning, engagement, motivation, psychological well-being and social inclusion, as well as presenting educational and physical activity implementation strategies. The consensus was obtained through an iterative process which began with presentation of the state of the art in each domain followed by plenary and group discussions.

Ultimately Consensus Conference participants reached agreement on the 21-item consensus statement. The 21-items are split across the following four themes:

  • – Theme 1: Physical activity in children and youth – fitness and health.
  • – Theme 2: Physical activity in children and youth – cognitive functioning.
  • – Theme 3: Physical activity in children and youth – engagement, motivation and psychological well-being.
  • – Theme 4: Physical activity in children and youth – social inclusion and physical activity implementation strategies.

You can access the full consensus statement here and it has been published on (Bangsbo et al., 2016).

It is important to not only understand the evidence, but to understand what meaningful action can be taken which is informed by the evidence base. Therefore, I have included all recommendations made across the four themes and believe many are particularly important for community sport.

RECOMMENDATIONS

Theme 1: Physical activity in children and youth – fitness and health.

  • – Fitness levels should be measured in children and youth for cardiometabolic risk stratification.
  • – Reliable and valid field testing, including intermittent maximal tests such as the – Andersen and Yo-Yo intermittent children’s tests and measurements of waist and height, are recommended to provide a preliminary assessment of the cardiometabolic risk for children and youth, and to provide feedback regarding relevant improvements in fitness and health status after training interventions.
  • – Small-sided ball games, like football, team handball, floorball and basketball, are recommended to elicit high cardiometabolic and musculoskeletal loading, individual involvement and favourable cardiometabolic and musculoskeletal training effects.
  • – Active transportation to and from schools, when safe, should be encouraged. Commuter cycling to and from school is recommended and is more effective to improve cardiorespiratory fitness than walking.
  • – For all children and youth, inclusive of healthy and those with chronic diseases, it is relevant to distinguish between training effects on cardiovascular, metabolic and musculoskeletal fitness, when evaluating the fitness and health effects of various types of physical activity.
  • – Assessment of cardiometabolic risk for children and youth should include fitness and be based on standardised continuous risk factor scores.
  • – Musculoskeletal fitness and health can be enhanced through several types of physical activity in sports clubs and schools when children and youth are engaged in vigorous, intermittent, impact-promoting activities, such as jumping, circuit strength training and ball games.

 

Theme 2: Physical activity in children and youth – cognitive functioning.

  • – Physical activity can promote scholastic performance in a broad sense. Whether it does so, depends on active participation and engagement in the physical activities.
  • – Initiatives and adjusted practice to increase motivation and competence for participation is thus essential. Opportunities include, for example, active transport, physical education, active lessons, recess, and after-school programming.
  • – Integration of movement into teaching activities of academic subjects holds promise, but studies are ongoing and there are at present only a few (but positive) available studies on this relationship. Presumably, a key feature is that the movement or physical activity is directly related to the intended learning objective.
  • – A single session of moderate intensity physical activity has transient benefits to brain function, cognition and scholastic performance with benefits derived for approximately one hour, depending on the characteristics of the physical. Physical activity immediately prior to a learning session should not be too intense since high stress or fatigue may blunt the beneficial effect. Additional benefits to memory may be derived when moderate-to-vigorous physical activity is performed after learning.
  • – Mastery of fundamental movement skills is beneficial to cognition and scholastic performance in children and youth, and both physical activity throughout school and in leisure physical activities can benefit motor functions. Motor skill screening provides a valuable tool for identifying children in need of adapted support in motor skill development. Specific ‘adapted’ interventions should be developed and offered to children with motor skill deficits in order to benefit motor development and motivation for participation in physical activities.
  • – The school is the arena where it is possible to reach the vast majority of children and youth, also those who are not otherwise regularly physically active. Increased focus on, and time for physical activity with qualified activities can be a possible way to promote motor skills and school performance as well as motivation for participation in physical activity.

 

Theme 3: Physical activity in children and health – engagement, motivation and psychological well-being.

  • – Children and youth should be provided with fun, personally meaningful and developmentally-appropriate physical activities, which offer opportunities for positive social interactions.
  • – Adults need to empower children’s and youths’ feelings of competence and personal autonomy and facilitate their enjoyment of, and engagement in physical activity by creating environments which are autonomy supportive (eg provide a voice, choice and decision-making), mastery-oriented (eg emphasise the value of hard work, personal improvement, co-operation and continual learning) and socially supportive (eg ensure young people feel cared for, accepted and respected, separate children’s sense of worth from their performance).
  • – Children and youth should be encouraged to do physical activity with close friends and be provided a variety of mutually-valued physical activity options in school and out-of-school-time settings.
  • – Parents should serve as physical activity role models, by communicating a positive attitude about physical activity, being regularly active and demonstrating value toward physical activity through consistent verbal and non-verbal behaviours. Parent education programs can inform them about the importance and features of positive physical activity environments.
  • – Coaches and teachers should receive systematic training regarding the rationale for, principles of, and strategies they can adopt to create more empowering physical activity environments for children and youth.
  • – Adults should take the opportunities afforded via children’s and youths’ engagement in physical activity to teach them life skills, such as interpersonal, self-management, and conflict resolution skills, which can generalise or transfer to other domains such as school, future work and home life.

 

Theme 4: Physical activity in children and youth – social inclusion and physical activity implementation strategies

  • – Provide a wide variety of physical movement experiences for all children early in their lives to build fundamental movement skills and familiarity with physical activity.
  • – Offer a variety of sporting and physical activities which recognise and engage diverse children and youth.
  • – Offer a range of contexts for sporting and physical activities in order to support the inclusion of children and youth into specific activities and contexts that are meaningful to them.
  • – Provide capacity building interventions (eg policy, in-service training, ongoing technical support, resources and evidence) which support the implementation of PA policies and programmes in schools and community environments.
  • – Organisations and stakeholders involved in sport and physical activity provision should develop social inclusion policies and practices.
  • – Support socially inclusive practices with education, training and support for physical activity providers.

 

How can you use the consensus statement?

Reading these recommendations will no doubt leave many within community sport in agreement. This consensus statement and recommendations can be shared with funders and policy-makers. Furthermore they should be used to inform and guide practice and research.

For further details please see the full report here and research here.

Dr Dan Parnell is Research Director at ConnectSport, co-founder of The Football Collective, an active researcher and senior lecturer in Business Management at Manchester Metropolitan University. His research interests cover the sport and leisure sectors within the UK and he works globally on a number of projects, in particular the social role of sport. Contactd.parnell@mmu.ac.uk or follow @parnell_daniel on Twitter or access his research here.

 

Heads up! How small-sided football can help the nation’s health

This article was originally published here.

Dr Dan Parnell, of the Business School at Manchester Metropolitan University, offers some thoughts on recently-published research which highlights how small-sided football training can contribute to the health of the nation.

In England, we have observed the growth of professional football clubs as deliverers of Primary Physical Education (PE) (Parnell et al., 2016). Whilst Primary PE has been outsourced to a range of willing providers, recent research suggests that football could offer some real answers to tackling the health of the nation.

In June 2016, the British Journal of Sports Medicine published an editorial by Peter Krustrup, Juri Dvorak and Jens Bangsbo, which discusses the role of small-sided football training in schools and leisure-time sports clubs, and how it improves physical fitness, health profile, well-being and learning in children (Krustrup, Dvorak and Bansgo, 2016).

How can small-sided football training help children?

The editorial highlighted that of the research on Football for Health (about 100 scientific articles from 2009 to present), approximately one third have investigated football training in schools and in sports clubs.

The conclusions are encouraging:

  • small-sided football training induces high heart rates, a large number of intense actions along with high involvement, technical success rates and training effects for boys and girls irrespective of body mass index, fitness level or prior experience with football;
  • 98% of children who are members of football clubs live up to the physical activity recommendation of health authorities and they have stronger bones, less fat and greater aerobic fitness than non-sport club members, and
  • small-sided school-based football interventions with just 2×30, 3×40 and 2×45-minute weekly games improve bone health, heart health, physical capacity and learning in children aged eight to 12 years old.

This provides a clear message for all stakeholders from policy-makers to headteachers: Football has the potential to get children fit and healthy! 

What can we do?

We have already highlighted the lack of research and understanding of the role of professional football clubs in the delivery of Primary Physical Education (Parnell et al., 2016). But that aside, those involved in (and genuinely interested in) getting our children fit and health need to, in football terms, ‘get their heads up’.

We need to deliver high-quality, focused programmes which use small-sided football training to deliver health targets. And this needs to be supported with clear research and evaluation, to make sure we are getting this right in practice (Lansley and Parnell, 2016). The evidence is there – we just need to make this happen.

This article is based on the following research article:

Krustrup, P., Dvorak, J., and Bangsbo, J. (2016). Small-sided football in schools and leisure-time sport clubs improves physical fitness, health profile, well-being and learning in children. British Journal of Sports Medicine, doi:10.1136/bjsports-2016-096266 (open access here).

Dr Dan Parnell is an active researcher and senior lecturer in Business Management at Manchester Metropolitan University. His research interests cover the sport and leisure sectors within the UK and he works globally on a number of projects, in particular the social role of sport. Contactd.parnell@mmu.ac.uk or follow @parnell_daniel on Twitter or access his research here.

THE NEW SPORTS STRATEGY AND THE OUTSOURCING OF PRIMARY PHYSICAL EDUCATION

The new sports strategy and the outsourcing of Primary Physical Education

The new sport strategy ensures that outsourcing of Primary Physical Education (PE) will continue until 2020, meaning that external providers will access the PE and Sport Premium funding for the duration of the this period. As this context is set to continue It is now more important than ever to take a moment, reflect and in football terms, ‘get our heads up’ and see what is in front of us.

Originally posted on the Sports Think Tank.

In recent research by Parnell, Cope, Bailey and Widdop (2016) published in the peer-reviewed journal Sport in Society, a number of challenges for external providers and primary schools, have been highlighted. Ultimately, we do not know what the real impact of PE and Sport Premium funding is – we do not know whether it works and at present, we are making policy based on weak evidence. This runs contrary to the government’s position of basing policy on a strong evidence base. This needs to stop.

At best, we can continue to retweet, like and share those impressive (and growing) participation figures that are distributed widely, providing little more than some breathing space for under pressure commissioners and managers whom are ill-equipped or unwilling to evaluate the impact of their work. At worst, we can continue to blindly accept the glossy reports, press releases, and annual reports that provide the most convincing narrative around the impact of Primary PE – such as improved concentration, behaviour, educational attainment and overall physical health – all of which lack evidence (Zwolinsky, McKenna, Parnell and Pringle, 2016).

Our research explores the role of sport/football coaches involved in the delivery of Primary PE, specifically professional football clubs. This is because professional football clubs are leading the way in this work; partly a result of experience and credibility of working in primary schools settings and partly a result of funding from the Premier League to develop and enhance this practice. Indeed, it could be argued this is more as a result of the scope of this work nationally by professional football clubs than a substantial amount of evidence.

The new sports strategy provides further context for the continued outsourcing of Primary PE. Moreover, the increased funding allocation for the PE and Sport Premium will be welcomed by many. Despite this, we argue that this increased funding should not be confused with increased impact and suggest the following urgent actions:

– Enhanced professional education and training is required to equip those sport/football coaches delivering Primary PE with the necessary skills;

– Enhanced education and training needs to be delivered and evaluated to analyse its effectiveness;

– Sport/football coaches and generalists need to work in partnership, to shared practice, skills and support their shared professional development (Parnell, Cope, Bailey, Widdop 2016; Parnell et al., 2016);

– We need to evaluate the current practice of those delivering Primary PE;

– This evaluation must go beyond asking people about their perceptions and must include children, capturing their experiences, and generate evidence (both qualitative and quantitative) of this provision and measurable outcomes.

This research was prepared with Dr Ed Cope (University of Hull), Dr Richard Bailey (International Council of Sport Science and PE) and Dr Paul Widdop (LeedsBeckettUniversity). The research can be cited using the following reference and be found here:

Parnell, D., Cope, E., Bailey, R., & Widdop, P. (2016). Sport Policy and English Primary Physical Education: The role of professional football clubs in outsourcing. Sport in Society, DOI:10.1080/17430437.2016.1173911

Dr Daniel Parnell, Senior Lecturer in Business Management at Manchester Metropolitan University and Research Director at Connect Sport. His research interests cover the sport and leisure sectors within the UK and he works globally on a number of projects, in particular the social role of sport and football.You can read more about his research here and contact him on d.parnell@mmu.ac.uk or on Twitter @parnell_daniel

Dr Ed Cope is a lecturer in Sports Coaching and Performance at the University of Hull. He has extensive experience in coach education and pedagogy. Ed’s research centres on understanding how children perceive and experience sport. He is leading a novel research project for the International Olympic Committee and has worked within the team for the School Offer Review for the English Premier League. Contact ed.cope@hull.ac.uk or follow @EdCope1 on Twitter.

Dr Richard Bailey is an international recognised authority on sport, physical activity and human development. He has directed studies which have influence policy and practice both nationally and internationally. He is a former Primary and Secondary schoolteacher, teacher trainer, coach and coach education. He works with agencies such as sportcoachUK, UNESCO, the World Health Organisation, the European Union and the International Olympic Committee. He was also lead consultant for the influential ‘Designed to Move’ agenda and directed the School Offer Review for the English Premier League. Contact baileyrichard1@me.com or follow @DrDickB on Twitter.

Dr Paul Widdop is a senior research fellow at Leeds Beckett University. His research interests are in the consumption and participation of sport, especially in relation to social networks, geography, and neighbourhood effects. Contact P.Widdop@leedsbeckett.ac.uk or follow @Fire_and_Skill on Twitter.

Outsourcing in PE and School Sport

Pleased to finally have this article published with Dr Ed Cope and Dr Richard Bailey.

Cope, E., Bailey, R., & Parnell, D. (2015). Outsourcing physical education: A critical discussion. International Journal of Physical Education, 52(4): 2-11.

Click here for the full article.

 

Football clubs and school sport: The badge is not enough

school sport edit1

Original article found here.

New research has examined the role of football clubs in the delivery of physical education and school sport across England, and questioned the need for greater evaluation.

Football clubs lie at the heart of many communities and, as such, they can have an important and distinctive role to play in introducing young people to sport and other physical activities.

This role has come under increasing scrutiny in recent years. The advent of a new ‘PESS’ (Physical Education and School Sport) strategy in England in 2013, accompanied by a £450million investment into school sport, brought the role of clubs into sharp focus.

The challenges outlined by academics in recent research, developed as part of a special edition focused on Football and Health Improvement, became even more pertinent given the recent joint funding committed by both the English Premier League and Government.

Previously changes led by the Conservative Secretary of State, Michael Gove, in 2010 had seen the first attempts to dismantle the established School Sports Partnerships. However now headteachers have control of the budget to fund external provision of their activities, meaning that decision-making has been decentralised. This change has seen the emergence of external providers, including football clubs.

As the clubs and their respective community programmes have stepped forward to answer the call, it is important to ask how they are faring.

This new research by Parnell and colleagues (2015), published in the peer review Journal Soccer and Society, uses semi-structured interviews with community managers from football community programmes and headteachers to reveal key themes. The research points towards greater partnership working between football clubs and schools, in a bid to need to raise the quality of coaching.

With stakeholders such as the Premier League making a major investment into PE and School Sport, this current research shows the need for more action from all stakeholders involved. The three most important actions include:

1 Developing the scope of partnerships between clubs and school.

2 Developing the roles and skill-set of the community coaches working in school to achieve greater impact for PE and School Sport.

3 Tackling the deficit of high-quality, rigorous research and evaluation.

In simple terms the badge of the local football club, whilst appealing to many, is not in itself a guarantee of effectiveness. Acting on the call from this research, those involved must begin to develop more effective practice. Moreover, the research warns that without proper monitoring and evaluation “we can only speculate on how PESS can contribute to lifelong participation in children and young people”.

Read more here >>

Dr Dan Parnell is an active researcher and senior lecturer in Business Management at Manchester Metropolitan University. His research interests cover the sport and leisure sectors within the UK and he works globally on a number of projects, in particular the social role of sport. This includes the Football League Trust, the English Premier League, the Football Foundation and Barclays Spaces for Sports. Contact d.parnell@mmu.ac.uk or follow @parnell_daniel on Twitter.

Dr Ed Cope is a lecturer in Sports Coaching and Performance at the University of Hull. He has extensive experience in coach education and pedagogy. Ed’s research centres on understanding how children perceive and experience sport. He is leading a novel research project for the International Olympic Committee and has worked within the team for the School Offer Review for the English Premier League. Contact ed.cope@hull.ac.uk or follow @EdCope1 on Twitter.

Dr Richard Bailey is an international recognised authority on sport, physical activity and human development. He has directed studies which have influence policy and practice both nationally and internationally. He is a former Primary and Secondary schoolteacher, teacher trainer, coach and coach education. He works with agencies such as sportcoachUK, UNESCO, the World Health Organisation, the European Union and the International Olympic Committee. He was also lead consultant for the influential ‘Designed to Move’ agenda and directed the School Offer Review for the English Premier League. Contact baileyrichard1@me.com or follow @DrDickB on Twitter.

International Journal of Health Promotion and Education Training sports coaches to tackle tobacco: formative evaluation of the SmokeFree Sports campaign

Please find the link to this article here. 

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Coaching, Partnerships and Making a Difference

Sport and, in particular, football has the ability to engage and inspire many people to improve not only skill level and ability, but also their lives as a whole. We catch up with Tony Bryson, Ayr United’s Head of Sport Science and Community Project Co-ordinator, who shares his views on coaching, and the relationship between schools and community sport organisations.

As we speak, it soon becomes apparent that improving lifestyles through football is Tony’s motivation, and a process he feels should be considered more probability than possibility. When asked to describe his coaching philosophy, he spoke openly of his desire to engage a diverse range of people in a warm, welcoming environment whilst pushing them to “progress to the very best of their potential” – something he believes football can help to achieve.

So what qualities does a coach need in order to deliver on this philosophy? Patience, Tony suggests with a smile, in acknowledgement of the challenges that a diverse range of participants can bring. These challenges, he suggests can often be handled with knowledge, experience and a great deal of empathy for how participants are feeling. He refers constantly to the importance of ‘engaging’ participants, and he believes these qualities can help to ensure everyone feels involved.

According to Tony, Physical Education and sport is key to a child’s learning experience, and something, he argues, that should be delivered by external coaches as they are often “best qualified to do so”. A successful partnership between schools and community sport organisations “ isn’t only important for pupils, but also for the benefit of society in general” he claims, once again acknowledging the wider impact of sport.

Tony goes on to speak enthusiastically of the terrific work carried out by Ayr United and their many partners, including South Ayrshire council and several third sector organisations. These partnerships allow Tony and his colleagues to work closely with a wide range of primary and secondary schools in delivering football AND healthy living sessions, aiming to educate young people about their lifestyle. Read more here.

But what constitutes a successful partnership? “Without shared goals and communication a partnership would prove ineffectual” Tony states, and this, he argues, would be a difficult barrier to overcome. Whilst considering further barriers to achieving a successful school/community sport partnership, his frustration is obvious at a lack of funding and facilities with which to ‘bring in’ sport organisations and deliver effective sessions.

 After speaking with Tony, it’s obvious he considers these barriers to be worthwhile in breaking through, due to the physical, psychological and social benefits that engagement in football can provide. “I genuinely believe that sport can include all young people and empower them by offering them team goals, and individual goals that they can aspire to”, he concludes, as if we  needed further persuasion.

If you are interested in Community Football and School Sport check out our forthcoming conference at Burton Albion FC here.

This interview and article was prepared by Steven Bills of the University of Derby.

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