I've been a Parkour coach for almost 4 years now and experienced the many setbacks & hurdles faced trying to make a living as an independent service provider in a sector that is riddled with rules, regulations, & government protocol. It hasn't helped that Parkour has always been in a bit of a grey area in terms of its status (at least in the counties of Wales where I live it has). Is it a sport? Is it an art? Is it a lifestyle? Is it dangerous? Should it be taught in a controlled indoor environment or should practitioners be taught outside from the beginning in order to preserve best practice techniques? What kind of business do I run, is it sole-trader, Ltd or partnership? Is it profitable, non-profit or community? Then there are other political (taxes, legislation, policy change etc), economic (recession, fuel costs, competition etc), socio-cultural (trends, demographics, big events etc) , technological (advances in technology, online sales etc), legal (laws, new legislation, health & safety etc) & environmental factors (weather, pollution, global warming, location etc), all of which have an effect on job prospects & funding sources.
It's been a roller coaster ride to say the least & when I first started my journey back in August 2010, I had no idea what I was letting myself in for and I certainly wasn't expecting to learn so much about politics, business and how governments work... and yes it all boggled my brain for some time but my love for Parkour & determination to turn what I love doing into a career has carried me through.
Now, as 2014 starts, and after all my experiences and new found knowledge in the systems and how they work, I feel I am finally ready to take my business to the next level. And, although it's been a struggle for me, I can see light at the end of the tunnel.
So with ParkourUK (national governing body for Parkour) re-applying to SportUK for Parkour to be recognised as an official sport, Parkour Generations and Freemove announcing their partnership (the two largest international Parkour coaching, events and equipment providers/ producers), as well as new innovative - specialist - Parkour equipment (portable indoor & fixed outdoor equipment carrying the British Standard stamp), 2014 is looking to be the best year for me & Parkour yet!
I know I am a Parkour coach, but let’s take Parkour out of the equation for a second.
Fundamental Movement Skills are key to all sports and are well known by all elite sports coaches to provide the foundation for all athletic maturity. They are considered the building blocks for any sport specific skills. These skills have been described as the ABC of Athleticism and include agility, balance, coordination power and speed (Balyi I, and Hamilton, A. “The Concept of Long-term Athlete Development” Strength and Conditioning; Bell, G.E. and Wenger, H.A. Physiological adaptations to velocity-controlled resistance training 2001)
It is well documented that the best time to start focusing on FMS for any budding Olympian is during the first 8-12 years of life (eg Valentyne 2002; Youth Sport Trust 2011) .
However, I believe is never too late to for anyone to start learning FMS... and I speak from experience. Don't get me wrong, I'm not going to state for one second that anyone can become a Pro sportsman or will be able to compete in the Olympics if they start learning FMS in later life nor can we ignore those with a debilitating condition. I just believe that too many healthy people fall into a trap of self-delusion regarding our abilities. As if we have an inner voice saying "Ok, I'm 30 now, I shouldn't be doing this kind of thing anymore"...
For the first half of my life I suffered with bad Asthma attacks rendering me in hospital on a Ventolin inhaler on a regular basis which meant any kind of sport, competition or activity was of no interest to me in case I suffered another attack. I became over weight and I didn't get motivated to try sport until I was 18. I soon found that I wasn't as fragile as I first believed.
Unfortunately, this meant I had missed the most important 'FUNdamantal' and 'Training to train' stages (6 - 14) of my life which meant my coaches weren't that interested in teaching me correct technique, possibly because they believed it was too late to bother. However, I motivated myself (largely because I was fed of being bullied and fat) and once I got into training (Various MMA sports) I really enjoyed it and soon became quite agile.
Getting introduced to Parkour was by far the best part of my sporting history, the fact that you MUST to learn to control every range of movement you make and MUST learn to become completely ambidextrous. I soon found that, not only was it great fun with no pressure, but I was also getting fitter and leaner without even trying! Also, I could do seeming impossible things and I could control my body in a manner that fills me with a sense of complete physical freedom. For me, you can't get better than that.
Parkour incorporates almost all the 'Fundamental Movement Skills' required for physical literacy skills (Locomotor & Non-locomotor movement skills) & would be an ideal adage to any ones weekly workout regime. From children, to adults, to retiree's.
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Is it important to have specialist coaches in sport?
Studies have shown that positive experiences in any sport during early childhood have greatly influenced an individual's future involvement and engagement... A good coach will take advantage of this and ensure that his students go home completely enriched & enthused, ready to come back for more.
To start this process, a coach needs to develop a child's love for the sport. This helps to create lifelong involvement in that sport.
I agree with Lynn Kidman;
Please feel free to voice opinion or post any helpful comments you may have on this subject.