From an early age, I have been in a professional environment having come up through the academy at Barnsley Football Club. Following eight months in Australia to study different coaching methods and play semi-professional football in Brisbane, I returned to sign for Sheffield Wednesday. It was at Sheffield Wednesday that I began to think about the coaching side of the game and the Youth Team coach at the time, Mark Smith would use challenging possession based sessions designed to allow players to enhance their decision-making skills. After each session, I would write down how the session was set up for future knowledge.
From 2004, I went on to play semi-professional football for several years and enjoyed spells at Sheffield FC, Frickley Athletic and North Ferriby United. It was at North Ferriby where I sustained a knee injury, which meant time off the pitch. I started to watch the great Barcelona team at the time, which included the midfield three of Xavi, Iniesta and Busquets, world class players, who always kept possession of the ball and made the right decision wherever their position on the field of play. I noticed that their in-game statistics were impressive, averaging a pass completion rate of above 90% per game, every game. Consequently, I became intrigued to know why other footballers didn’t achieve these heights and therefore, I started to think how I could create a tool to improve player’s decision making to enhance performance.
With my background in football I enlisted the help and advice of friend Dr Liam Slack – who now works with the Premier Leagues elite officials – from there the Skillz Bib was invented and Sport Elevation was created in 2011. A full year of research and development took place throughout 2012 in both a football environment and in a primary school setting where the product was tested on grassroots players and primary school pupils in PE. The outcomes within education included; an effective tool for planning, teaching and assessing learning outcomes and within a footballing environment, the benefits included a unique differentiation tool for coaches and players.
From 2013 onwards, Sport Elevation has worked in local schools and with local and professional football clubs developing the Skillz Bib programme. We now offer a full system complementing the product with planning modules for a range of different topics, assessment strategies, template documents and session plan visuals complete with decision-making challenges that aim to challenge pupils and players of all ages and abilities.
“Elevating pupil’s aspirations through PE are important for every child as this can lead to success through other curriculum topics; enhance self-esteem and self-confidence throughout their educational journey.”
Christopher White – Founder and Director of Sport Elevation Ltd
First sighting of the Skillz Bib in action...
Back in 2012, throughout our research and development year the Skillz Bib came to fruition at Hunningley Primary School in Barnsley, UK.
Also at that time, OFSTED were conducting their inspection and they liked the link between Numeracy and Literacy within a PE environment.