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Talking about Sport and Physical activity

This guide shares some techniques you can use to engage people in conversations about physical activity.

Reading Level: Medium
Reading Time: 6 minutes

We know how important the advice and guidance of carers, support workers and social workers is to those they support. By starting to have more conversations about physical activity, you can support more Disabled people to be active in a way that works for them.

Often it is hard to know where to start. Especially when sometimes people may not be interested in physical activity or not feel like it is for them because of the barriers they’ve experienced all their lives.

Below, we’ve put together some techniques you can use to engage people in conversations about physical activity.

For more detailed guidance, please look at the Get Yourself Active Social Care Activity Pack.

Starting the conversation

The organisation Sport for Confidence have developed specific guidance on ways to start conversations about physical activity. They bring together the health and sport sectors to address inequalities in sport and physical activity participation for Disabled people and other marginalised groups.

We have included a flow chart that summarises their advice.

The conversation tree is a simple flow chart that progresses as follows - Ask, Listen, Explore, Collaborate, Plan, Support, Celebrate

Understanding motivations

Motivational interviewing is a technique that ensures you can have conversations that help guide people to change. Having these conversations can help to shape a person’s attitudes and behaviours and uncover how they really feel about activities. It sets you on a course to make sure anything they do will actually work for them.

In this model, conversations are not about telling people what to do. Instead, they are a collaborative conversation style for supporting a person’s own motivation and addressing change. You can use this approach to set goals or plans with an individual.

You can document this in their support plan, alongside the individual’s medical conditions and the views of other health, therapy, and social care professionals.

Active listening

This process involves hearing what the person is saying and fully concentrating on what is being said. Reading body language and showing interest through verbal and non-verbal cues like nodding. Through active listening, you can understand the person’s own view of their situation and values.

Three ways to do this are:

  • Asking open questions

    An open question is a question that cannot be answered with a ‘yes or a ‘no’ answer, and instead means people have an opportunity to talk or explain their answer. They usually begin with words such as “When?”, “Where?”, “How?” or “What?”.

  • Summarising the conversation

    Summarising is a way of pulling together what a person has told you and reflecting this back to them in a few sentences. This shows that you are listening and understanding what they are saying. Summarising back to someone can help them to reflect on what they are speaking about which may encourage them to open up more.

  • Asking scale questions

    Scale questions can be used to get people talking about motivation and the importance of change. This means asking a person to ‘rate’ where they are on a scale of 0 to 10.

Next Steps

We want to hear from you! 

We’d love for you to share your experiences of getting active and having fun wherever you are. Please do get in touch to share your thoughts on the latest news or what sport and physical activity mean to you.

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