Monday, April 14, 2014

Keeping Kids Engaged And While Teaching/Coaching Age/Developmentally Appropriate Skills/Movements

Which of these group of kids do you believe will become better at sports and learn more?

OR, these kids...

Let's also ignore the age difference - the pictures simply depicted the dichotomy I wanted to discuss :P

So.. which kids will become better athletes?

Which of those two pictures will ultimately produce the next superstar?

Did you pick the second picture? The one where they are doing drills. If you did, I am sorry to say you are incorrect. Well, that isn't quite true. The more accurate answer is there is no way for us to know.

The key point, however, is that doing drills and constant skill work at a very young age is NOT, I repeat. Doing drills, skills and technique work at a young age IS NOT what will determine how successful of an athlete your young child will become. Although I will disclaimer that Canadian Sport for Life does acknowledge the early specialization allotment for gymnastics, diving, and figure skating.

Recently, I came across a young mother that was coaching for the first time her young four year old boy. He would get upset that mommy was paying attention to others (a feeling I know all to well with an only child), the lack of response and seeming involvement from parents, and teaching these children how to play ball. The following was my take on it, and my advice (mind you, it was unsolicited, but we all know that's the best kind :P).

I feel for you, Elizabeth. I (foolishly) tried coaching my daughter a number of years ago at the young age of four. Well, that probably wasn't going to happen again. She is also an only child, and an extremely sensitive one at that (I blame her mom :P). The things you explain here are exactly what I went through... she "DID NOT WANT TO SHARE DADDY!" Her words, not mine.

As well, in regards to emails... sadly, get used to it. I found kids of younger parents were often more involved. In fact, it even gets worse. I primarily coach at the 16-21 year old age group, which is when parents generally begin to become less involved. Here they will actually start to confirm they will all show up to a practice, and then not a single person appears at the ball diamond. Not that I dislike being all alone and wasting an afternoon, but...
If I could perhaps give some well intentioned, albeit unsolicited, advice. I have been a long time coach, and strong believer and proponent of the Long Term Athlete Development by Canadian Sport for Life (CS4L), as well as learning the Fundamental Movement Skills by Physical & Health Education Canada. At the age of four you will be focusing on the Learn to Play or Active Start stage, depending on the program you look at. The focus is less on sport-specific movement, but on having fun and playing games. These may not look like they lend themselves well to learning ball, but trust me they do (including millions of dollars of research and studies :P). It is more important they learn to manipulate objects, locomotor, and be stable. As well, learning the ABCs (Agility, Balance, Coordination) are of great importance. The gist, there is no point worrying about "drills" at this age. Let them learn the movement through games, such as Blob Tag