Chapter 5

3. Educational approaches in Family Days

Family Days is the first step in introducing FFS in your regular training program. It is an event that brings together families to practice some sport and enjoy their time together, get familiar with the FFS concept, appreciate its benefits and raise their interest to be further engaged in the process. Either the Family Days is just an annual even for your sports club/organization, or it is regularly there every week or every month, there is no doubt that it has high educational value and requires some special handling. Here are a few practical tips to make it worth it:

(a) How to teach cooperation
As said before, one of the most challenging tasks when implementing FFS activities is to help guardians undress their role and feel and behave as equal members of the team. Cooperation with a child starts with the instinctive approach that it cannot –or even SHOULD NOT- be equal, though this is not the case with FFS. Guardians need to leave their ego behind, accept the authority of the sports leader, acknowledge the children as equal team members and work for effective cooperation towards the common goal of the team.

SCENARIO: some guardians appear reluctant to let go of their authoritative role and present a rather bossy character towards the children. They constantly command them to do this or that, they try to take the lead and prefer to do everything on their own instead of sharing tasks with the children.
PLAN B: the first thing to do is to pair them up! Make sure you create mixed groups in the team, where both adults and children are members of the same group. Assign specific roles to each of the members and give them tasks that require cooperation, or else it is impossible to deliver. For example, in track and field, blindfold the adult, tie their hand to the child and ask the child to guide them towards the finish line. In a collective sport –let’s use basketball as an example- blindfold the adult and ask the child to guide them in order to score.


(b) How to teach mutual support
The only way for the team members to really connect and experience the real benefits of FFS is to enhance mutual support and trust to one another. It is important to make them feel that they can rely on their teammates and that they are all bonded, putting their best efforts towards a common goal: the team’s success.
SCENARIO: some of your team members seem to be less skillful than others and this makes them feel insecure and disappointed. This affects the team dynamic and jeopardizes the very core of your FFS activity: exercising, education, bonding and entertainment.
PLAN B: ask your team to prepare a celebration both for winning and for losing occasions. Let them design it as they wish so that it reflects their spirit and personality. This is the first step to boost their motivation and team spirit at all times. Now focus in developing some internal support mechanisms. After each training session, ask them to name one thing they would like to receive extra training in order to improve and assign this task to a pair of teammates (one adult and one child) – this will be the beginning of your next session. Make sure that not always the same individuals train or are trained.

(c) How to teach the approach towards winning/losing
People have different ways of dealing with a win or a loss – it’s the character and personality, it’s the ego or the low self-esteem, it’s the time and effort that each one invests in the activity. However, there must be some balance as in FFS it’s not about the outcome, it’s about the journey!

SCENARIO: your FFS team has competed with an FFS team from another sports club and unfortunately, they have lost. After the game, guardians appeared to be quite angry for that result, while children started crying and being desperate about it.
PLAN B: gather your team for some post-game analysis. Though this time, the focus will not be on mistakes in playing and the strategic approach – anyway the goal of FFS is not about the athletic performance, but about learning, bonding and having fun! Give your team some time to cool down and even use some relaxing techniques: ask them to massage each others’ shoulders or do some stretching exercises. Start by praising their effort and attitude in the game; the level of their cooperation and mutual support; the respect they have shown to their opponents and the referees; highlight the spectators cheering and satisfaction; tell them how proud you are for their performance. Then try to involve them in the conversation: ask them to mention their favorite moment of the game, the lessons they have learned, the thing they enjoyed the most, or a good feeling they carry about this experience. To finish your conversation, ask them to make their regular celebration no matter the result!

After going through the chapters of this Guide, one would wonder – is that all? Have we exhausted all aspects of Family Friendly Sports in detail? The answer is one and easy to think: OF COURSE NOT! FFS is a spectacular concept with many chapters yet to discover. The more someone is involved in it, the merrier they will discover about it! However, we hope that this Guide will serve as a useful tool for sports clubs and organizations active in the field of sports to get familiar with this concept and make their first steps forward!