Stage 1: Active Start

Key Objectives

Fun and participation with emphasis on the development of fundamental movement skills and the ABCs (Agility, Balance, and Coordination).

Where

Home, playground, daycare, preschool and kindergarten.

Who

Parents, care givers and teachers.

Total Hours Training & Competition

Provide 30-60 minutes a day of organized physical activity. Provide at least 60 minutes a day up to several hours of unstructured physical activity or active play. Children this age should not be sedentary for more than 60 minutes a day (unless sleeping)

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Training to Competition Ratio

• There is no specific training to competition ratio for this stage, as there is no formal competition, only fun play. Instead, children should be engaged in play for a length of time suitable to their age and amount of other physical activities. Provide 30-60 minutes per day of organized physical activity.

Periodization

• No formal periodization.

Technical

• Introduce children to the squash environment.
• Encourage unstructured play on the squash court.
• Focus on developing the fundamental movement skills (e.g., running, jumping, hitting).
• Emphasis on fundamental movement skills linked together into active play.
• Players should participate in a variety of additional physical activities.
• Swimming and well-structured gymnastics programs are recommended to enhance the full range of basic movement skills and physical literacy.

Tactical

There are no tactical requirements at this stage

Physiological/Physical

• The Active Start stage is marked by the child’s initial high growth rate, as well as rapid nervous system and brain development.
• General locomotion skills are being established (walking and running), and there is obvious improvement in hand-eye coordination and overall movement sequence as children near the end of this stage.
• Physical activity will enhance bone and muscle growth, promote a healthy weight, improve posture and maintain an overall fitness level.
• Parents and care givers should provide opportunities for children to engage in a wide range of movements and physical play involving movement.
• Gymnastics is an ideal Active Start activity.
• Four key environments for movement should be introduced during this stage – on the ground, in the water, on snow and ice, and in the air.
• Agility, balance, coordination and “quickness” are cornerstones of physical literacy at this stage.

Psychological

• Introduce basic mental skills with fun, simple activities such as focusing (e.g., focus on objects and try to remember things about them) and relaxation (e.g., try to tense and relax specific parts of the body).
• Initiate imagery use with simple games involving the imagination (e.g., imaginary squash rallies on the squash court).
• Also introduce modeling with games like follow the leader (e.g., swing mechanics and court movement).

Ancillary Skills

• Ancillary skills are not taught to children at this stage, as they generally include instruction in nutrition, time management, career planning and relationship skills. Instead, parents and care givers should concentrate on providing sound nutritious foods and adequate water intake.

Competition

• There is no formal competition at this stage.
• Simple play is structured through fun programs such as ‘Big Hand’