Research reveals that fun is the top reason kids stay in sport. That’s why in 2017 the Freestyle Canada Sport Development team got serious about fun. We surveyed, researched, and created focus groups to pull in all of the best practices that could create more fun and healthy sport experiences for children 6-10 years.
Our coaches and clubs gave Freestyle Canada clear feedback on improving the Jumps & Bumps program:
Last winter we started concocting a recipe for a new flagship Can Freestyle program that would meet our Freestyle Canada promise to infuse “infectious passion to elevate performance”. The main ingredient recommended by clubs was building “Coach Pocket Guides,” similar to the Canada Snowboard ‘Riders' lesson plans. Pocket Guides really help new coaches working with children deliver skills, games, and a variety of fun and age appropriate activities.
Our Provincial and Territorial associations agreed it was time for a new look and name for Jumps and Bumps; like Quebec already successfully did by relaunching the program as “Skiacrobatz”. We decided to take the Sport For Life Long Term Athlete Development stage title for 6-9 year olds and “freestyl-ify” it with our trademark ‘Z’; and “FUNdamentalz” was born.
Our next step was to reach out to the HIGH FIVE program who are Canada’s authority on training leaders to the emotional and mental health of children 6-12. Attention to the HIGH FIVE™ Principles: A Caring Adult, Play, Friends, Mastery and Participation/Diversity are included in every lesson plan.
After evaluating what we wanted to change, we looked at what we didn’t want to lose from our much-loved Jumps and Bumps program. We trimmed a few high-end skills that were out of the reach of most entry level athletes; like doing a 360 in a mogul run, but otherwise kept all of the time tested technical skills that were taught by trained “Club Coaches.”
This means that our valued “Club Coaches” will receive credit for completing the new 2 day FUNdamentalz NCCP Community Coach course. All trained coaches need to do is read their Pocket Guide and Report Cards and have fun with the games and activities.
There is one fun new entry level skill “buttering”. This was a suggestion to add more variety to pressuring the tips and tails of skis and fun new ways of spinning from our Olympic gold-medal Slopestyle coach (and Dad) Toben Sutherland.
I have to give kudos to a few key people whose enthusiasm and hard work has helped to raise the bar in kids snow sport programming. Our Sport Operations Manager James Anderson who brought his “sport wizardly” skills to research and analyze data and input. Coach Developer Patrick Breault who brought his technical knowledge and passion for keeping Freestyle fun. Former Moguls skier, and teacher Justine Simmons who managed to boil all of the research into coach and kid friendly Pocket Guides. Designer Alison Armstrong who never fails to make any change we ask for, and our own Sandra Haziza for pulling together the training for the new FUNdamentalz Coach program. I can’t name everyone who contributed to this new recipe because we simply have had so much support from the entire sport community.
And finally, to all of our Freestyle family who contributed – thanks! We can’t wait to see the smiles on kids’ faces when they get to play FUN new games while learning FUNdamentalz Freestyle skills this winter.
Thanks for reading. As always we want to hear from you. Drop us a line and give us your feedback!
Meredith Gardner and the Freestyle Canada Sport Development Team
+1 (877) 714-2232