To get the learning process going in an optimal way, there are some requirements. Apart from the indispensability of a good trainer, we here address two elements that contribute to a sound startup and process of any kind of psychophysical program: a physically and emotionally safe environment, and voluntary engagement of the youth (which also has its restrictions).
Safe learning context >
A learning process can only really get going in an emotionally and physically reassuring, though still challenging, environment. Without this, there is not enough room or openness to experiment with boundaries and behavior, to get out of your comfort zone, and still learn something.
You certainly have to listen carefully and reinforce them positively, but at the same time you have to say things as they are, and this is only possible if you do it in a non-judgmental way. In this way, you give them the responsibility for their behavior back, because there is no room for self-pity and stigmatization by others. (Rock and Water trainster)
The approach is over and over again: How can we maintain and permanently motivate the participating youth, instead of judging and going along with their stigma.
Here, anyone can train at his own pace, and learn boxing. Our guys say things like, “Thank you, I feel really good here”. And I also ask them if everything is OK. Here no one has to prove himself. (boxing trainer)
Voluntary participation >
Ideally, participation in the psychophysical sessions is voluntary; this creates the right openness necessary for a successful learning process. But in some cases the sessions can be part of an imposed trajectory, as for instance with young delinquents. Then, the challenge is up to the trainer to create a climate during the first sessions that make them participants wanting to come back.
In the first stages, we often ask them what they want to learn here, like “What are we going to do here?”. Or we have youth that are forced by their parents to come. I find volunteering a requirement, I also act upon this, am very open about this towards the youth. I say something like: “If you don’t want to be here, then you don’t have to, I am not going to force you”. And I am very strict in this, also communicate this to the participating schools. If they don’t like, it doesn’t make sense. There should be a small opening, they have to be open to it, otherwise it won’t really get you anywhere. (Rock and Water trainer)