Chapter 4

1. Individual sports

(a) Strong points

Self-motivation: one of the most integral aspects of sports is for the athlete to be highly motivated to be engaged in the training and perform well. Provided that all individual sports athletes are trained to rely on themselves and enjoy the outcomes of their own effort, self-motivation can easily be found there. The same happens with the athlete’s family members, who are also used in this concept through their children and are also familiar with the concept of relying on oneself and focusing in one’s own performance. In terms of FFS this can be considered as a strong point, provided that it will be easy for the sports leader to build up the –already existing- motivation of the athletes (guardians-children) and guide them through the FFS process more easily and effectively.
Tip! Try to boost their motivation and broaden it by showing them how valuable it is to support each other and draw upon the energy of each other!

Determination: this is again one important characteristic of individual sports, as athletes have the tendency to focus more on their goal and are willing to work hard to achieve them. In an FFS environment now, this can be turned into a quite beneficial aspect both for guardians and children, as the latter can lure their guardians in engaging more in the activity, handling this initiative with the required seriousness and gravity, and overcoming their reservations and reluctance.
Tip! Let the young athletes play their role and become the leaders of this process, persuading their guardians to commit further by leading by example!

Discipline: provided that there is no other team member to replace or substitute individual players, they are required to show strict discipline when exercising this sport. This is probably also reflected in their family environment, as usually the rules and the behavioral habits of young athletes do not exist only in the sports field but are also transferred to their personal lives and the family –inevitably- follows them as well. Use this attribute to your FFS team’s benefit, as it will definitely make your job easier – rules will be met, roles will be respected and balance will be much more achievable within your small team.
Tip! Remember not to turn your FFS activity into some strict and dry “military” process. Allow your team players some freedom and lose entertainment opportunities, as the aim of FFS is not high performance per se, but learning and bonding through sports!

(b) Weak points

Self-focus: although self-motivation is considered a strong point, it hides a weak side as well. Individual sports athletes – or “solo athletes” as they are usually called, have a really strong personal aspect in their involvement, as they normally compete with themselves. Athletes do not share the effort with anyone, neither can they rely on other team players, which immediately leads to lower levels of team spirit. In FFS activities this creates a few difficulties as athletes need to learn from scratch how to coexist with other members – even if it is their own guardians we are talking about!
Tip! Invest some more time in team-building activities even though it is a really small two-members team! Offer your participants the opportunity to experience and understand the benefits of cooperation and team work!

Lack of interaction: being solo players also provides less social opportunity for your athletes. They are not used to interaction with other team members during their training and this might make them feel uncomfortable and uneasy. Especially in FFS, where the “other members” come from their family, personal issues might come to surface and lead to aggression and tension.

Tip! Introduce them gradually to the process and start by making small steps. Try to act proactively to avoid any conflict and make it clear to both sides that they are there with the role of the athlete and not solely their family role.

Lack of adaptation skills: provided that in individual sports everything is built upon the solo athlete’s personality and needs, it is harder for them to be flexible adjust in new circumstances where the needs of another individual also need to be addressed. In the FFS case, athletes might have a hard time accepting and engaging in the new environment and therefore conflict or lack of motivation is more likely to occur.

Tip! You don’t have to change everything from scratch! Make small changes that both of your participants can adapt to, find some common grounds that makes them both feel at ease and give extra support to the individual who is struggling the most to adjust!