INTRODUCTION TO FUNSTIX
FUNSTIX is an exciting, fun, and unique introductory field hockey program for children 6 to 10 years of age and an innovative, educationally sound teaching resource for physical activity and sport teachers and coaches.
Reflecting recent trends in physical activity programming for children, Funstix lessons provide enjoyable opportunities for children to learn the ‘fundamentals of the game of field hockey. They develop their basic movement skills (also known as Fundamental Movement Skills), tactical awareness, and decision making skills while participating in developmentally appropriate games and activities that make up the 10 lesson Funstix program.
Research indicates that the goal of all physical activity programs for children should be to make children more physically literate. A physically literate person is someone who ‘moves with competence in a wide variety of physical activities that benefit the development of the whole person (PHE Canada, 2010). Funstix addresses the concept of physical literacy in a variety of ways. First, Fundamental Movement Skills are embedded in all Funstix activities and are a major focus of each lesson. This includes locomotor (travelling) movements such as running, hopping, skipping, galloping and sliding; non-locomotor movements (balance) such as pulling, pushing, stretching, turning, twisting, and general manipulative (control) skills involving balls, such as rolling, receiving, trapping, and throwing. Children’s cognitive abilities, tactical awareness and decision making abilities are developed through the use of small games which emphasize a specific tactical focus, common to field hockey and many other team games. Finally, the use of small sided games address physical literacy by creating play environments in which children cooperate, share, and work together to achieve the tactical objectives of many games and activities in the Funstix program,
The importance of providing play opportunities to promote physical literacy in young children is significant. The acquisition and refinement of general movement skills, as described above, are critical for the successful development of more specialized sport skills as children get older. To ensure that children who take part in the Funstix field hockey program have opportunities to enhance their general movement base, each lesson includes a strong focus on fundamental movement skill acquisition and refinement.
A focus on the development of tactical awareness and decision making is a unique feature of the Funstix resource. For many physical activity leaders, the inclusion of tactical focus for young children, particularly when children lack basic technical skills may seem inappropriate. However, recent trends in games education indicate that basic tactical knowledge can, and should, be introduced by carefully designed, low organization activities. Funstix lessons include tag games, keep away games, and other simple game forms that introduce and develop concepts such as awareness, use of open space, blocking space, off ball movement and ‘ball-side/goal positioning. In several Funstix activities focused on tactical development, throwing and catching games are used as progression to games including hockey sticks. This ensures a lack of technical hockey skill does not interfere with the acquisition of tactical knowledge, or prevent the participants from enjoying and succeeding in the games.
Instructors of the Funstix lessons will find this resource particularly useful as it provides instructional guidance to help provide lessons that enhance opportunities for learning, enjoyment and success. For example, each lesson plan provides detailed descriptors of ‘how to’ correctly perform each of the technical field hockey skills and fundamental movement skills included in the lesson so instructors have the information they need to provide meaningful feedback, which enhances learning. Further, detailed guidance helps instructors ensure lessons are inclusive and developmentally appropriate. Children have fun and enjoy what they are doing (and want to ‘do it again’) if they experience success and feel competent. Opportunities for success and fun are maximized if tasks match the developmental characteristics and skill level of each participant. In each Funstix lesson plan, activities are presented in developmentally appropriate progressions, tips are provided to help instructors adjust the difficulty level of activities, and general guidelines for adapting activities to match developmental levels are included.