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Podcast: Helping Kids to Enjoy Sport

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Last week Dr Kimberley O’Brien spoke to a local magazine about how to help children enjoy sport. We recorded this and would like to share it with you as a podcast and transcript below.

Quirky Kid runs our popular performance psychology program, Power Up!


[00:00:00-00:00:16] Doctor Kimberley O’Brien introduces the challenge of getting children to enjoy sports. 

Hi. You’re listening to Dr. Kimberley O’Brien, child psychologist at the Quirky Kid Clinic. We’re talking today about why kids might dislike school sports, and whether parents should be concerned, as well as how to encourage children to enjoy sports.


[00:00:16-00:02:56] Often children dislike school sports because of negative experiences, such as sensitivity to loud and overwhelming environments, pressure from authorities, perfectionism, discomfort with competitive environments, and lack of exposure to sports as a positive experience. 

About why kids might dislike school sports, or sports in general: often it can come from negative experience. It could be that kids could be enrolled, even as toddlers, in some indoor KinderGyms or soccer lessons, that might have lots of noise, whistles, and other kids. If children are sensitive to their environment or have sensory issues, sometimes they can find these environments quite stressful.

Think about what negative experiences kids might have gone through in the past which might impact their perception of sports. Sometimes it’s pressure from parents to participate, or even a negative relationship with a coach, that might put them off the idea of participating in sports.

Other kids might be perfectionists and find it sort of frustrating or embarrassing to try a new skill. When they’re not good at something they refuse to participate, and they just don’t want to fail. Sometimes that can be one reason behind kids not feeling comfortable with team sports.

Another idea could be that they are not comfortable in a competitive environment. In some schools, children do become competitive with sports. Teachers can encourage competition between kids. Thinking about how the child might feel, they may feel inadequate or self-conscious when they’re in a competitive environment.

And another possibility around a child’s negative experience related to sports, could be that parents have had similarly negative experiences with sports. So parents might actually be reluctant to seek out opportunities for kids to participate in sports, just trying to be protective with their children and not wanting to put them in a competitive sports environment. They may avoid sports and maybe favour technology, for example, instead of sports. So when kids get to school, the idea of participating in sports might not be something that they’ve experienced before on a regular basis.

Other well-meaning parents might start off kids in a soccer or nippers type of environment, where there’s lots and lots of kids learning a new skill. And this can also be overwhelming for children.


[00:02:56-00:06:27] When you introduce kids to sports, start small, in low-pressure environments. Respect their resistance, and praise them for their efforts and improvements. It’s also important for parents to build a positive relationship with the trainer and model participation sports. For perfectionist kids, have them study theory online before attempting to physically learn a new skill. 

So when you’re thinking about how to introduce kids to sports, here’s some tips on how to do that:

Step one, start with a small environment, a few kids. Think about how to increase their exposure to sports gradually. You might use a soft toy rather than a ball when you’re practicing catching or throwing, at home in a safe setting. Or instead of starting small, you might enroll your child in a one-on-one coaching clinic. For example, tennis, rather than starting with a large group setting like soccer or large team sports.

It’s also really important to build a positive relationship with the coach or trainer. This will help young people to feel safe with that unfamiliar adult, and to boost their motivation to go along on a regular basis. Parents can probably relate to this one when it comes to choosing the right swim teacher for their toddler. If the relationship is really positive between parent and teacher, then often kids will feel safer and be more interested in participating. Having a regular coach or trainer rather than having a different person each week will also help kids to feel more comfortable, more willing to participate.

Another point when it comes to helping kids cope with sports, is to respect their resistance. So if kids are resistant to participating, don’t push them or punish them. Try to praise any improvements that you’ve noticed. “It’s great that I saw you watching the other kids today.” “I noticed you were listening to the instructor today.” Just highlighting the positives rather than letting them know what they’re not doing.

It might also be worthwhile to shop around and find an environment that suits you and your child. It could be that something more open. For example, circus skills with a free trial lesson might make you and your young person feel more comfortable, rather than paying in advance for a full term and then increasing the pressure on participating week after week.

Parents are also encouraged to model participation sports. That could just be playing beach soccer or backyard cricket. Leading by example will help young people also want to participate. Sometimes just laughter will help to lighten the mood when it comes to participating in sports, but adults should keep in mind that it’s good to laugh when adults are playing sports, but not so much when a child’s learning a new skill. Try and refrain from laughing if they’re struggling with a new skill, because kids might become self-conscious.

For those kids that I mentioned before, that may be perfectionists and prefer to not participate until they’re good at a particular skill – these kids often benefit from doing online tutorials before they even practically participate. Lots of theory and following instructions online can make kids feel comfortable enough to attempt to ride a bike or attempt to serve a tennis ball. So keep that in mind as well.


[00:06:27-00:08:35] Performance psychology offers a few tips on how to help kids enjoy sports. Let them choose their sport, give them breaks, point out their improvements, and praise them for trying. Make sure that they’re doing sports in a low-pressure environment that praises effort over results. Get them to score how much effort they put into their sport on a weekly basis, and hopefully you will see improvement over time as they get more comfortable. 

Now just finishing up: I’m going to take you through final tips to help kids, teachers, and parents, and help kids to enjoy sports more. All this information is linked to performance psychology. We know that Olympians often use performance psychology such as goal-setting, arousal regulation, and positive self-talk to help them get the best out of their sporting performance. You can find out more about this in our “Power Up” program which is the only performance psychology program for children, developed by Quirky Kid. So if you want to find out more, have a look at “Power Up” on the website.


So these final tips are: let your child choose their sport. Having more choice will increase participation and motivation. Number two, give them regular breaks. Number three, point out their improvements, not their problems with the new skills. Number four, praise your kids for trying. It’s really important to be mindful of the environment in which they’re learning that new sport or participating in sports. So if there’s competition or a coach putting pressure or putting down students that are not reaching the results that they would like, remember to look for a new environment that praises effort over results. And last but not least, ask kids to score themselves in terms of effort. That might give them a 6/10 for the first week, and then get them to monitor their effort week after week. Over time I would hope that as they feel more comfortable in the environment, they are more likely to want to go back and continue practicing that new sport.

All right, I hope you’ve enjoyed that little session about kids and sports. And keep in touch! I’m Kimberley O’Brien from the Quirky Kid Clinic. Thanks for listening.

Four children encouraging running child by Quirky Kid

Sports Psychology Tips to Stop Negative Self-Talk

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When it comes to improving performance. building self-esteem, good sportsmanship, and camaraderie, one of the most important aspects of sports psychology is positive self-talk. Research suggests that positive self-talk is associated with better performance. In fact, the Australian Sports Commission has carried out research that demonstrates the detrimental impact negative self-talk has on performance and having a positive attitude when it comes to athletic endeavours improves performance.

Young people, in particular, can benefit from learning more about positive self-talk. Improvements in their inner dialogue can improve both their attitude and performance and can have a positive influence on their interactions outside the sporting sphere. Quirky Kid has developed a program designed at young people aged 10 to 16, called Power Up. 

A common presentation for our young athletes is an inner dialogue that is dominated with doubt and negativity. Common expressions we hear from our young athletes are

“I’ll never be able to do it!”,
“I am no good at it,”
“there is no point trying.”

This type of negative self-talk can prevent a young athlete from performing well and create a negative cycle of poor self-esteem and poor performance. If a child feels they can’t be successful at a task, they often accept, and even expect failure. Negativity can turn a child’s insecurities into a self-fulfilling prophecy.

The good news is that positive self-talk is a skill that children can learn and utilise with practice. By using positive self-talk, young athletes can build the confidence they require to accept new challenges, maintain a healthy self-esteem, and build on new skills, even when the task is personally challenging. The first task in helping children challenge and change their self-talk is to support them in recognising negative self-talk patterns and identifying unhelpful language such as “can’t” or “never” in their internal dialogue. Some children put themselves down by referring to themselves as “stupid” or by using other put-downs. Once a child has identified negative self-talk, they can be assisted in challenging and replacing those thoughts.

Like many habits, the process of replacing negative self-talk can take some time. Children need to learn to interrupt patterns of self-doubt with more realistic and helpful thinking. For example, a young soccer player who tells herself, “I’ll never score this goal,” can replace this thought with a more helpful and realistic thought such as  “I’ve made the goal many times during practice and I can do it again!”. Just saying happy things is not enough, children must believe the positive thought and thus the key is to replace negative thoughts with thoughts that reflect reality and that are helpful.

One way to practise positive thinking is through practising self-talk out loud each morning in front of the mirror. Write a daily affirmation on a Post-It note and stick it on the child’s mirror so they can start each day in a positive frame of mind. Ask them to say the affirmation out loud in the morning, and to remind themselves of it whenever they’re thinking negatively throughout the day.

Interrupting and replacing negative self-talk can be a challenging task for children who suffer from low self-esteem, but with practise, young athletes can learn to accept challenging situations without putting themselves down and can and learn to feel good about both their strengths and weaknesses.

If you’re interested in learning more about how sports psychology can help children develop their self-esteem and athletic skills, and be positive teammates, please contact us.

Support network:


Austin, M (2016). Listening to the voices in your head: identifying and adapting athletes’ self-talk. Volume 28 Number 4

Bunker, L, Williams, JM and Zinsser, N 1993, ‘Cognitive techniques for improving performance and self-confidence’, in JM Williams (ed.), Applied sport psychology: personal growth to peak performance, Mayfield, Mountain View, CA.

Carlson, R 1997, Don’t sweat the small stuff, Bantam, Milson’s Point, NSW.

Carlson, R 2005, Easier than you think, HarperCollins, New York, NY.

Hardy, L, Jones, G and Gould, D 1998, Understanding psychological preparation for sport: theory and practice of elite performers, John Wiley and Sons, West Sussex, UK.

Buy Power Up:

Power Up is shortlisted for the London Book Fair International Excellence Awards 2016

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We are over the moon with excitement as we have just received confirmation that Quirky Kid has been shortlisted for two ( yes 2) London Book Fair International Excellence Awards 2016. Four Australian titles were shortlisted this year with China leading the shortlists with five nominations and the USA and Australia not far behind with four each.

The Power Up program was shortlisted Educational Learning Resources Award together with Kweetet (Belgium), Cambridge University Press (Australia),  SuperMemo World sp. z o.o. (Poland) The awards, which are held in partnership with the UK Publishers Association (PA), celebrate success in 14 categories, representing the best publishing ambassadors, cutting edge publishing, and ground breaking initiatives in the industry.

The Best of Friends™ program was shortlisted The Education Initiatives Award, together with Book Aid International (UK) for their work in Sub-Saharan Africa and United Nations – African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) (Sudan).

The awards, which are held in partnership with the UK Publishers Association (PA), celebrate success in 14 categories, representing the best publishing ambassadors, cutting edge publishing, and ground breaking initiatives in the industry.

Jacks Thomas, Director, The London Book Fair, said: “Now in their third year, the LBF International Excellence Awards are a one-stop showcase for some fantastic innovation and sheer determination to get books and content into the hands of consumers in a variety of classical and creative ways. Just looking at the shortlists makes me want to shout a big three cheers for the global publishing industry and all who work in it!”

Stephen Lotinga, Chief Executive, The UK Publishers Association, said: “These awards are going from strength to strength and demonstrates that excellence in publishing has no geographic boundary. This shortlist shows how, from the USA to China, Argentina to Turkey via France, New Zealand, Poland and of course the UK, there are no shortages of exciting developments in the book and publishing industry.”

The winners of a number of other Awards will also be presented on the night including: The Quantum Publishing Innovation Award, The Association for Publishing Education (APE) Student Awards, The IPA Freedom to Publish Prize, The LBF Trailblazer Awards and The London Book Fair Simon Master Chairman’s Award.

The London Book Fair Lifetime Achievement Award will also be presented.

The awards, which celebrate international excellence in the book industry, cover the whole scope of international publishing, including academic and scholarly publishing, children’s publishing, literary translation and digital innovation. In each award category the judging panel was made up of experts in that sector.

The LBF International Book Industry Excellence Awards will be an invite-only evening event, and will take place on Tuesday 12 April, the first day of The LBF 2016. The Awards Ceremony will be held at 6.00pm in The Conference Centre, Olympia, London. Dr. Kimberley O’Brien, principal child psychologist and Leonardo Rocker M.A will be representing Quirky Kid during the award night.

  • Fair Dates: Tuesday 12 – Thursday 14 April 2016


About The London Book Fair (LBF)

The London Book Fair (LBF) is the global marketplace for rights negotiation and the sale and distribution of content across print, audio, TV, film and digital channels. Taking place every spring in the world’s premier publishing and cultural capital, it is a unique opportunity to explore, understand and capitalise on the innovations shaping the publishing world of the future. LBF brings you direct access to customers, content and emerging markets. LBF 2016, the 45th Fair, will take place from Tuesday 12-Thursday 14 April 2016, Olympia London. LBF’s London Book and Screen Week will run for the third year, with the book fair as the pivotal three-day event within a seven-day programme. London Book and Screen Week will begin on Monday 11 April. In 2016, LBF’s charity of the year is First Story.

For further information, please visit:

The Publishers Association

The Publishers Association is the leading trade organisation serving book, journal, audio and electronic publishers in the UK. Membership comprises over 100 companies from across the consumer, academic and education sectors. Its core service is representation and lobbying, around copyright, rights and other matters relevant to members, who represent roughly 80% of the industry by turnover.


This post was initially published here:


New Table Display

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We have produced this beautiful table display to make it easier for for you to sell online licenses and to market the program as well. The best part is, it is completely free for Power Up Facilitators and registered affiliates.

There are two models currently available to choose from.  They come with some flyers and we will also send you a digital file so you can print more if you need too.  To request yours, please complete the form below, simple.

Request your Table Display

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Online Resources for Facilitator

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We have included more resources to the facilitator’s pages. Head to the lesson plans section to see the animated videos that now make up a part of each of the Power Up! sections.  We encourage you to view each video carefully to ensure you know when the information is discussed, making your workshops more engaging and accurate.

This resource is part of the online program but it can be really useful for your Power Up! sessions as well. They are engaging and help to communicate key information about the program. The videos are linked with the workbook each facilitator receives to make learning easy and engaging.

Keep in mind that you need a good internet connection to play the videos. If you experience any problems or difficulties please contact our support team.  There are more videos coming up during the year so make sure to check regularly.

Power Up performance psychology program for your people

Power Up! wins at Educational Publisher’s Awards Australia 2014

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This article was initially published in the Quirky Kid Website.

Last night, during the sold out ceremony for the 21st annual Educational Publishing awards at the State Library of Victoria, Power Up! our performance psychology resource, was awarded the Best Student Resource (Primary) under the Arts/Humanities category. 

Th judges praised our resource as follow:

Power Up is a target product that has wide appeal and application. It is unique in its approach in helping students enhance performance to achieve success by identifying and improving cognitive strategies. Clearly presented, well-designed and practical in its application. It delivers contemporary and relatable video content”.

Our team, Kimberley O’Brien (principal Educational and Development Psychologist), Leonardo Rocker (Publisher and Business Manager) and Lisa Diebold (Designer) were proud to receive the award from Senator the Hon. Scott Ryan Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Education and Senator for Victoria, who was officially representing the Hon. Christopher Pyne MP, Minister for Education.

The award is a significant achievement for our growing educational publishing house and confirms the amazing quality and innovation of our resources and products. We are a very proud team this week!

The ceremony was led by by Michael Gordon Smith, Chief Executive of the Australian Publishers Association (APA) and provided participants with inspiring and challenging speeches by David Barnett – Managing Director, Pearson Australia, and David Howes – Executive Director, Curriculum, Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority. We also heard from Murray St Leger – Chief Executive Officer, Copyright Agency and Cliff Brigstocke, Chief Executive Officer, OPUS Group.

Australia’s largest educational and most successful publishers like Pearson, Cambridge University Press, Oxford University Press Macmillan Education Australia took home many awards.The full list of winners is available in the EPAA catalogue 2014.

Our contented focus and commitment

Quirky Kid has a refreshed enthusiasm and focus to continue developing innovative resources for the educational sector in Australia and overseas. We have two more incredible resources in the pipeline and can’t wait to share them with you.

We would like to thank our clients and colleagues for their support and encouragement. We also invite schools and colleagues interested in offering this resource for their students and clients to get in touch with us. We are very happy to come to you and demonstrate how this resource can contribute to your students psychological support.

Offering Power Up!

You can purchase and find out more about Power Up! on the following websites:

You can also become an affiliate by registering here.

You can become a Power Up Facilitator by completing the registration from online

If you would like to offer this resource for your students, please contact us to discuss with your school 

performance psychology for young people

Shortlisted for the 2014 Educational Publishing Awards

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We are proud to announced that Power Up! has been shortlisted for the 2014 Educational Publishing Awards under Primary: Student Resource – Arts/Science/Humanities. We are against Pearson Australia and Pascal Press, two of the largest publishers in Australia. This is a major achievement and a fantastic reward for our work and dedication over the past few months.  

Organised by trade body the Australian Publishers Association, the EPAAs celebrate excellence in educational publishing in Australia. Now reaching its 21st year, the event is an opportunity to showcase the innovation, quality and dedication publishers devote to their pedagogical products.

Awards will be presented in the primary school, secondary school, TAFE & vocational and tertiary education categories as well as to the APA Primary and Secondary School Publisher of the Year. ​ The event is scheduled for

  • Date:                   17th September 2014
  • Location:             State Library of Victoria, Melbourne
  • Time:                   5.30-9.30pm

Power Up Online: what facilitators need to know.

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As you all probably know, we recently launched the online version of the Power Up! program. If you have note yet seen it, you can read the blog post at the Quirky Kid website. In this article however, we will explain the online version of the program to our facilitators.

What is the online version?

The online version is a rich multimedia addition to the workbook. This version is delivered via a website that is organised in sections just as the workbook and program content are. Each section includes  animated videos with instructions and key concepts of performance psychology explained.  The videos speaks directly with the participant and guides them to complete each section of the workbook.

Below you can see some screen shots of the tutorial videos:

Each time a participant purchases a workbook they also receive access to the online content via a username and password. This also includes the participants attending the workshops you offer privately. This makes the offer much more attractive. Access is for 6 months only.

One key aspect of this version is that it is constantly evolving as more content and animations are added regularly.

How do Facilitator access the online version?

Currently facilitators do not have access to the online content offered to participants.  This is soon to change and you will find a new option in the menu bar when you log it, called: Learn.

Only facilitators that have completed the training and accreditation will have access.

[Update] We have now included most of the videos and tutorials directly to the Lesson Plan sections for facilitators. There are still a couple missing and we are just finalising the edition process.

The material can be used to ‘polish off’ key concepts participants are expected to obtain, as well as during your workshops as a learning resource. We encourage you to use this as a complementary exercise to assist with generalisation between workshop or class sessions.

Can we offer this version to our clients?

The good news is yes. This version of the program can be offered without the need of a facilitator or a workshop.

It is an ‘off the shelf’ product. We are calling this sale model ‘affiliation’. An affiliate is a person that is not an accredited facilitator: eg can’t offer classes, workshops or courses’ but sells the online program. For each sale, Quirky Kid pays a commission of 20%.

Facilitators will also receive the status of an affiliate automatically. So you too can offer the online program as a product OR as the workshop. There are a range of ways to ensure we know you referred or sold the item (so you can claim your commission) and we will write a post just about that. The best way to start, however, is to use the marketing material we offer, display some items in your office and offer it in your office or on your website.

What is the benefits for us?

Some of the benefits are stated above like the 20% commission on sales. However we believe there are many more, like:

  • Increase credibility for the program;
  • Provision of reach learning resources that will support your brand and service
  • Added value for workshop sessions and offerings
  • Easy to access learning material for use during sessions
  • What are the other values you see?

How does this impact on the workshops we offer?

We think it makes them better. This is a win situation for us, for you as a facilitator and for the clients accessing the program. Our experience demonstrates that the online program is bringing more conversion for the workshops.

Getting Started as a Facilitator

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If you are reading this post it is very likely because you have made an important step to become a licensed Power Up! facilitator. This article will discuss useful information about getting started as a Facilitator.

First of all, thank you for joining us in this program. We are committed to ensure you receive a very high standard of support to enable you to offer outstanding workshops for participants around Australia and abroad.

The first steps

Just like any other program, there are important administrative steps to ensure the day-to-day of a Power Up! facilitator is easy, productive and stress free. The items below should all be completed by now:

  1. Initial registration and facilitator’s fee paid;
  2. You have provided us with documentation e.g cover letter, CV, working with children check, ABN and signed contract;
  3. You have a user name and password to access the program manual;
  4. You have access to your online folder on BOX;
  5. You have received your Letter of Acceptance;

If you have not completed or received any of the above please contact us.

Accreditation Process

The next step is to complete your training and accreditation. This step provides integrity to the program and ensures sessions will be offered consistently across facilitators. As you would expect, there is huge amount of trust placed on facilitators not to deviate from the program content. However, this does not mean that we are not keen to hear about your feedback on how to make sessions and lesson plans better. We will soon post another article providing information on how to provide feedback on the content (basically by making comments on the articles).

You should follow these steps towards your accreditation.

  1. Log in to the Power Up! Website.
  2. Navigate around the website to become familiar with the structure.
  3. Review the Terms and Conditions as this document explains your rights and obligations as a facilitator
  4. Review the presentation for the Educational and Developmental Conference about Power Up!
  5. Review the pages within the facilitator section
  6. Review the background Information 
  7. Review the Suggested Structures
  8. Review the Notes for Facilitators
  9. Review the Intro Video
  10. Review ALL lesson plans and sections within.
  11. Complete your supervision session.

These are an important 11 steps. Please ensure you take the time to go through each one. Soon after you complete step 10, please contact us to arrange a supervision session. The are two kinds of supervision session. One is a clinical session and the second is the business and administrative session. You are eligible for both supervisions free of charge.

Please note that you can’t offer Power Up! sessions until you complete all steps above.

Offering your first workshop

Soon after you complete your accreditation and training you are ready to offer your first session. The steps below will assist you in designing your first session.

  1. Decide on the workshop format. Class, Workshop our Course. See suggested structures for more information.
  2. Decide on a date and time
  3. Decide on the age group you would like to engage
  4. Decide on the venue
  5. Decide on your rate
  6. Order the workbooks
  7. Send us an email to with the summary above so we can advertise and register your workshop for you.

You may not be aware, but we can manage all the registration processes for you (payment, booking forms, confirmation and reminders). Our automated process will make your workshops really easy. Please make use of this resource as it is free of charge (excluding booking fees).

Remember we are here to help!