Sport activity is enough to learn Teamwork as a Life skill?

Teamwork is nowadays considered one of the most important skills to acquire among life skills. We know that collaboration and teamwork are at the basis of all team sport. Education contexts, school physical education (PE) in particular, can play an essential role in this competence acquisition and for the transferability from the skill leaned in sports games to young people’s own life. Teamwork is always being used in all aspects of life, whether personal or professional.

With coaches like bosses, teammates as co-workers, the game as the job, and a position as the player’s role, youth sports provide an age-appropriate challenge and environment to develop this ability in a fun and enjoyable way.

However participation in sport may be a beneficial, but insufficient, factor for promoting the positive development of teamwork. In the PA educator-students relationship, how the teachers perceive the value of sport and how they transfer this perception into PA education should emerge in every pathway.

Three different methodologies can be observed in sport contexts:

– Education for Sport concept has the main aim of developing competences in terms of sports performance. Education for Sport addresses the improvement of skills related to the sport itself. Thus, its purpose is only to serve the development of individual competences to improve physical performance. Education for Sport is normally related to diverse disciplines of competitive sports. This concept, therefore, has limited interest in the context of non-formal education.

– Education by Sport, linking correlated to the concept of “sport for all”, is a more complex process and includes specific objectives such as they aim to address health issues and wellbeing. The aim is therefore to reconcile the sporting goals and the wellbeing of the society. By playing different sports, it is expected that people learn more about healthy lifestyles and in this way raise their awareness about the mentioned issues.

– Education through Sport (ETS) is much deeper in terms of its aims and expected outcomes and uses a holistic perspective. This approach consists of the integration and implementation of sport elements to be used for an educational purpose to address a social issue, develop social competences, and cause a lasting social transformation. ETS requires many elements that use sport and physical exercise in order to boost a strong lifelong learning outcome such as improving tolerance, solidarity, or trust among people. From a methodological perspective, ETS consists of adapting sport and physical activity exercises to the objectives of the planned learning project that develops social skills. ETS is strictly connected to Kolb’s experiential learning cycle (Kolb 1984). Experience is the source of learning and development. In ETS the concrete experience is the sport (or physical) activity that is adapted to the learning objectives of the program. The participants of the experience reflect together in a guided debriefing process, after which they go through the change themselves and will be able to use the new competencies they learned.

Finally, ETS is the model that can mainly address a social issue, evolving individual competences, and develop social transformation. Coaches understand that personal and social skills are not automatically acquired by sports participation. More efforts must be made to support high school teachers in providing new educational programs,  oriented to the development of the social skills of their students.

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