Promoting lifelong physical activity and high level performance: realising an achievable aim for physical education

MacNamara, Á. orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-8110-6784, Collins, D. orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-7601-0454, Bailey, R., Toms, M., Ford, P., and Pearce, G. (2011) Promoting lifelong physical activity and high level performance: realising an achievable aim for physical education. Physical Education & Sport Pedagogy, 16 (3). pp. 265-278. ISSN 1740-8989

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Background: Even though all school-aged children in most countries experience some form of curricular physical education many do not maintain a lifelong involvement in sport or physical activity. From a theoretical perspective, the development models that dominate sport are limited by their staged and linear approaches to development (e.g. Côté's Developmental Model of Sport Participation) and their focus on a ‘distinct’ pathway to elite sport. R.P. Bailey and colleagues in 2010 advocated a new approach to understanding development in sport that enables a lifelong flow between different, but interrelated, motives for participation in sport (e.g. Participation, Personal Excellence, Elite Excellence). It is suggested that a common set of skills facilitate participation for these related but distinct motives across the lifespan. However, we argue that many curricular models in PE do not equip individuals with the skills necessary to maintain their involvement in sport and progress back and forth between different types of activities.

Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to explore the psycho-motor and psycho-behavioural factors that underpin prolonged engagement in sport and physical activity, against a consideration of the extent to which these factors are promoted within PE.

Key findings: Offering an operationalisation of this purpose, the Developing the Potential of Young People in Sport (DPYPS) model was used as an illustration of a developmental and educationally-oriented framework that recognised the interrelated importance of developing key developmental skills, namely psychomotor and psycho-behavioural skills, in a PE context. Essentially the skills offered within the DPYPS program are those psychological and psychomotor fundamentals that underpin learning, development, and performance and act as the foundation of lifelong engagement in sport and physical activity.

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