Sport Clinics and Demonstrations: Over 15,000 Trained at International Games

Article excerpt

We do not believe that sports are an end in themselves. We do not permits sports to dominate us or our athletes. We use sports to help people develop, not to inhibit their development in other areas.

Since the First International Special Olympics Games held in Chicago in 1968, Special Olympics International has adhered to the mission of providing athletic competition through quality training. In 1980, Special Olympics International introduced the Special Olympics Training School Course, designed to prepare Special Olympics volunteers for coaching Special Olympians. Since that time, over 187,000 volunteer coaches have been trained in sessions conducted around the world. More recently, additions to the volunteer coaching education program have involved courses in principles of coaching and advanced sport techniques.

Although each International Special Olympics Games has offered a variety of sport demonstrations and special events, the 1987 International Summer Special Olympics Games in South Bend, Indiana, marked the first concentraed effort to provide innovative sport clinics at the Games. Coordinated by Karen Siegel, now with Texas Special Olympics, over 70 sport clinics and demonstrations were provided for athletes and coaches.

Sport Clinics at

the 1991 Games

Based upon initial success of 1987 Games sport clinics, Special Olympics International designed a most ambitious plan for the 1991 International Summer Special Olympics Games. Behind the leadership of Marc Edenzon, Special Olympics International Sports Training Director, and Shannon Larson, 1991 ISSOG, over 300 sport clinics and demonstrations were conducted in all 22 winter and summer Special Olympics sports, as well as in a variety of new locally popular sports.

Sport clinics and demonstrations were structured as integral parts of athlete and coach experiences at the 1991 Games. They were designed as sport instructional sessions to further educate athletes and coaches on fundamental through advanced training, and competition skills and strategies for increased participation in a wider variety of sports. Primary focus of sport clinics and demonstrations was to stimulate interest in sports by providing experiences that were memorable, beneficial, and fun for athletes, families, and coaches for future participation in Special Olympics and sports. Clinicians for sessions included celebrity and professional sport figures, and high school, college, and Special Olympics coaches and athletes.

This program was established around several goals:

* Introduce athletes, coaches, and families to all 22 official Special Olympics summer and winter sports.

* Introduce new demonstration sports to athletes in noncompetitive, informal sport clinics.

* Serve as an outreach tool by which persons with mental retardation could try different Special Olympics sports.

* Assist Special Olympics athletes, coaches, and families with new sport selections prior to training.

Were sport clinics successful? Consider that the 300 plus sport clinics and demonstrations were attended by over 15,000 participants. In reaching established goals, clinics and demonstrations opened new doors for athletes, coaches, and families attending the 1991 International Summer Special Olympics Games. They learned about sports they may never have tried and acquired new techniques and strategies to aid in training and competition.

Sport clinics and demonstrations programs involved three types of clinics--athlete sport clinics, coaches sport clinics, and sport demonstrations. Most clinics involved translations into English, Spanish, and French (official Special Olympics languages), as well as a variety of other languages as needed. Sport clinics and demonstrations were offered at competition venue sites throughout the Games. While most clinics were held at the same venues as actual competitions (i. …