With the summer season looming the relaunched Run Jump Throw programme is set to prove a hit the length and breadth of New Zealand. Here we explain more about why clubs and schools would benefit from adopting the revamped programme.
For 30 years the Run Jump Throw programme had been delivered to dozens of clubs and schools but Athletics NZ Club Development Manager, Cat O’Sullivan, felt there was a need for a revamp.
She insists although there was great merit in the programme, much of the key information was stored within a word-heavy manual and change was required.
“The manual was not user-friendly and did not meet the needs of kids and coaches today,” explains Cat. “It was obvious that parents and volunteers did not have the resources to best help them deliver the programme.”
Hitting the target
The next step was to make the programme more “developmentally appropriate” to children aged six to 11 and to achieve this goal Athletics NZ brought in three underpinning philosophies.
Firstly they adopted the Good Sports principles (of Aktive Auckland Sports and Recreation) around creating a positive and developmental environment in order for kids’ to learn. They also took on board the Sport NZ Physical Literacy approach about understanding that through life we have different needs and motivations and thirdly the Halberg Foundation STEP approach = Space, Task, Equipment and People to allow for the adaptation or modification of any activity to make the learning outcome achievable.
“The relaunched programme is based on why kids like playing sport, which is to have fun, be with their friends and learn new skills,” adds Cat. “We’ve made the new programme a lot less performance orientated.”
Ease of learning
On the back on this, Athletics NZ set about transforming the manual into something more digestible for the kids and the volunteers to understand. A series of A5-size cards were designed to help support volunteers implement the programme. On the front of each card the key skill criteria and verbal cues are explained while on the back are fun activities and the STEP guide to support the skill learning.
Meanwhile, some of the technical content and language of the past has been stripped back.
“We’ve gone for a much simpler approach,” explains Cat. “Before we had quite a bit of detail and three different levels. We’ve tried to maintain the key skill progressions but in a way that is easy to understand and teach to children.”
The Innovation game
Mimicking many of the activities adopted by the IAAF Kids’ Athletics programme, Athletics NZ have brought in many more fun games and activities in Run, Jump, Throw replace the traditional competition-element of the past.
A quick-fire Team Athletics competition, which does not require a track, has been created to include such fun events as shuttle relays with hurdles and slalom poles, pole flying and turbo throw events
Meanwhile, a mini-pentathlon involving a 50m sprint, five-minute timed run, medicine ball push, vortex throw and standing jumping is another part of the revamped Run Jump Throw system.
Run Jump Throw Cross Country is also now part of the programme, which allows kids to practise the skills of running that builds endurance while having fun.
“We hope that kids have an enjoyable experience with athletics and want to stay involved,” explains Cat. “What we hope with Run Jump Throw is it offers a fun, quick-fire, time on task approach, but which also offers benefits for those kids who want to carry on and compete in the sport.”
Many clubs around the country introduced the revamped Run Jump Throw format last summer and with great success. Coach coordinator at Lower Hutt Athletics Club Simon England says the programme proved a huge hit with the kids and consequently attendance levels held up well.
“We organise three circuits of about 20mins each across the night and what we have found is that for the full 20mins kids are active the whole time, “explains Simon. “Under the old Run Jump Throw format you might show them to use the blocks and they might get two runs a night while the rest of the time they waited around in the cold. With the new Run Jump Throw the kids are doing circuits the whole time. It is non-stop.”
Simon admits that while the kids and active and engaged with the new Run Jump Throw revamp some of the parents were bemused by the new format. However, he says once explained that they are teaching technical elements such as the shot push within the programme they understood the skill-based learning element.
“The programme fits with the Sport NZ philosophy to make sport fun” adds Simon. “What we experienced (at Lower Hutt) last year was more kids than usually kept coming back because they had such a good time.”
While some clubs have embraced Run Jump Throw, so have the schools. Sport Whanganui Community Sports Leader Jodie Brunger has successfully introduced the revamped Run Jump Throw programme across 33 primary schools in the region.
“It is fantastic,” she says of the programme. “I was a primary school teacher for 19 years and I believe athletics is a great foundation sport because it teaches all of the key fundamental skills and all of these are showcased in the programme.
“The look of the resource is much better than the older format and teachers are really drawn to that. All the coaching points are broken down for each activity and it is much easier to understand.”
Jodie also insists the blend of activities is ideal for the needs of primary school age children.
“The kids loved the activities and I really like that direction that Athletics NZ have taken it. They are advocating participation and not pushing that competitive element too early.”