Life Skills Tru Sport

A mental health initiative from the Winning minds Movement

The plan for LifeSkills TruSport is ambitious. And inspired by a desire to contribute to the mental health of young people.

It aims to apply positive psychology in sport to develop wellbeing and life skills in children and young people

The life skills I refer to are not the traditional ones of communication and leadership (although these are laudable)  – but ones of a mental and emotional nature, such as resilience, confidence, positivity, growth mindset and healthy habits, and I’m not sure if this has been attempted before*.

In essence the plan aims to connect sports education with positive education and sporting potential with human potential.

In addition, it has potential to be not just a life skills enhancer, but a performance enhancer as well. When young people have resilience, confidence and a growth mindset they are more likely to try new things, learn quicker and overcome setbacks. They are also more likely to feel good, experience less stress and reach their goals. At least thats what the evidence tells us.

Yes, the plan has lofty ambitions; and if truth be-known it probably started twenty five years ago – but thats a story for another day

The Idea

Every plan starts with an idea and the idea for LifeSkills TruSport stems from my belief in the power of sport as a vehicle for developing mental and emotional skills. This belief is based on my own experience and from working with thousands of children and young people through sport.

It also stems from my studies of mental health, psychology, wellbeing and neuroscience – fields which highlight the conditions needed to shape and develop healthy minds and emotions. And sports provides the perfect conditions for this to happen.

In fact sports provides the ideal vehicle for prevention and strengthen approaches to mental health.

And that’s why I developed LifeSkills TruSport.

LifeSkills TruSport is an enjoyable and positive approach to sport for children and young people, with an emphasis on developing life skills and wellbeing. The skills developed such as resilience, positivity, growth mindset and healthy habits – can improve performance in sport, and are transferable to other areas of life such as school, education, personal development and positive mental health.

In addition to providing transferable life skills, it is also hoped the fun and positive approach of the programme would help increase participation – and encourage continued participation in sport and exercise.

The Aims

  • Combine sport education and positive education to develop transferable life skills such as resilience, positivity, growth mindset and healthy habits in children and young people.
  • To enhance performance in sport and life

The Outcomes

  • Enhance mental wellbeing
  • Provide a positive experience in sport
  • Enhanced performance in sport and in life
  • Reduce chances of mental health problems
  • Develop skills for achieving coping and thriving
  • Improve physical health by embedding healthy habits

Potential Outcomes

  • Increase participation in sport by providing a fun and positive experience
  • Enhance chances of continued participation in sport by providing a positive experience

The Methods

Use an evidence based approach by applying positive education to sports education

Simplifying the science and language around wellbeing & life skills

Providing user friendly models and frameworks supported by evidence

The How

Using sticky words

Using constructive praise

Nurturing transferable skills

Creating positive environments

Educating coaches and parents

Applying the methods in sport and the homeplace

Reimagining the four corner model and placing positive education at its centre

The Approach

Education of coaches and parents in the use of key words, creation of positive environments, modelling of behaviours and use of constructive praise.

Education of children and young people through engaging materials and environments.

Education of coaches and parents on strategies for development and transference of skills, eg:  the three step process of message, reinforce, transfer (adapted from Bodey et al., 2009)

The Aids

The long term goal would be to digitise all content and publish a user guide. That said, initial approaches and aids will include:

Handouts/handbooks for coaches/parents (electronic/hardcopy)

Workshops/talks for coaches/parents (blended learning model)

Communications via email, messaging apps, video platforms

Onsite guidance for parents and coaches during practice and games

The Evidence

Supported by evidence from the fields of positive psychology, wellbeing, mental health, education, neuroscience and sports.

The Vision

To help society reimagine sport not just as a health enhancer but as a life enhancer as well.

The Mission

Apply positive education in sport to develop wellbeing & life skills in children and young people

The Power Of Sport

I truly believe in the power of sport as a mental health enhancer.  It worked for me and for thousands of others.

I don’t know of any other medium that that can be used to improve itself while also improving oneself.

But I am also realistic. I know the LifeSkills TruSport initiative will face a variety of challenges. That said, with the mental health challenges faced by our young people from covid, social media and career uncertainty – it’s gotta be worth a shot.

Next article: Current Status