Modern Australian

Five tips to help your kid succeed in sport – or maybe just enjoy it

  • Written by Mitchell Smith, Lecturer in Skill Acquisition and Motor Control, University of Newcastle

Are you signing up your child to a recreational, representative or school sporting program for the new school year?

You may be doing so under false assumptions – and risk undermining your child’s success or enjoyment.

Here are five points for parents, athletes and sporting organisations to consider for talented sports programs – and kids playing sport in general.

Read more: Pay to play: is participating in sport becoming too expensive for everyday Australians?

1. ‘First in’ may not equal ‘best dressed’

It’s increasingly common to see sports academies advertising “talent identification days” for children as young as five years old.

It seems logical – if a child starts young, surely they enjoy a head start and have the best chance to succeed. But in reality, talent is much more complex than accumulating practice time as per the so-called 10,000-hour rule (which says 10,000 hours of practice are required to become world-class).

In fact, rather than “first in, best dressed”, research suggests “early in = early out”. In one study around 75% of young athletes (average recruitment age = 15) recruited into talent programs lasted two years or less, and those who made it to the highest levels were first recruited at a much later age (around 19 years).

2. It’s not a level playing field

In sports like rugby, Australian rules football (AFL) and netball it pays to be big or tall. For this reason sports academies are biased towards recruiting more physically mature children.

But young athletes grow at different rates. So this physical advantage at the youth level may not last, with later maturing athletes catching up during the adolescent years.

Five tips to help your kid succeed in sport – or maybe just enjoy it Differing heights in players may just reflect different rates of maturity. from www.shutterstock.com

Due to the bias towards selecting more mature young athletes, it also pays to be born earlier in the year. The typical age group cut-off system means children born almost a full year apart compete against each other.

In AFL (among other sports), being born in the first half of the year drastically increases your chances of being selected for an U12 academy, and even receiving Brownlow Medal votes.

Read more: Tennis, running, netball: do I really need a specific shoe for a specific sport?

So how do we give younger or less mature kids a fighting chance? Sports academies can use some simple measurements (standing and sitting height) to mathematically estimate maturity.

This, along with date of birth, should then be factored into selection decisions so youth athletes can be evaluated based on their developmental age and ability, not just their chronological age.

3. David beat Goliath

Although we can estimate maturity, it is almost impossible to predict success in sport. After all, no one predicted that tiny David would triumph over the giant Goliath in the well-known biblical story.

But success in sport is multidimensional, so a lack of size and strength can be compensated with superior skill, savvy and confidence.

Parents and sporting organisations should emphasise holistic development of young athletes, rather than focusing on obvious traits like physical fitness and skill.

Two often overlooked factors that substantially contribute to long-term success are psychosocial characteristics (such as parental support and motivation) and non-sport-specific motor competence (the ability to execute a wide range of motor skills).

Acknowledging the multidimensional nature of talent and the “uneven playing field” described above allows talent developers to make decisions based on future potential, not just current performance.

Five tips to help your kid succeed in sport – or maybe just enjoy it Good support and motivation are often overlooked elements in children’s sport. from www.shutterstock.com

4. Let them play

To improve performance in any domain, you need to practice. But practice can come in many forms.

The well-known 10,000-hour rule is based on the concept of “deliberate practice”: highly-structured, coach-led practice with a strict focus on improvement.

Although experts complete plenty of this practice over their careers, some research suggests that accumulating hours in “play” (less-structured, informal games; focus on fun) is equally or more important.

While you encourage your children to “play”, make sure you recommend sampling multiple sports. Additional research shows that sampling multiple sports in childhood, and specialising in a single sport at a later age (around 15) are linked to greater success, longer careers, and lower injury rates.

Five tips to help your kid succeed in sport – or maybe just enjoy it Let kids have fun playing unstructured sports too. from www.shutterstock.com

5. Winning isn’t everything

The emphasis in youth sport programs should be on developing as many athletes as possible, not winning with a few of the “best”.

Too often we praise youth coaches and athletes because they win competitions, but how often do we credit them with developing lifelong participants in a sport? And when was the last time we gave a youth athlete credit for sticking with his or her sport?

Read more: Pushing casual sport to the margins threatens cities' social cohesion

High participation is a sign of a healthy sport ecosystem. By encouraging many to participate we can accomplish two goals at the same time:

  1. increasing the pool of participants from which to recruit and develop
  2. creating youth athletes with a lifelong affinity with sport that may well extend far into adulthood or even old age.

So as you and your children decide what sporting program to choose, consider these five points, and your children will have the best chance to both enjoy and succeed in sport.

Authors: Mitchell Smith, Lecturer in Skill Acquisition and Motor Control, University of Newcastle

Read more http://theconversation.com/five-tips-to-help-your-kid-succeed-in-sport-or-maybe-just-enjoy-it-110785

NEWS

As the dust of the election settles, Australia's wildlife still needs a pathway for recovery

The Darling River near Louth NSW, April 2019, in the midst of a drought compounded by upstream irrigation policies.Jaana Dielenberg, Author providedThe environment was a keyconcern in the recent federal...

The long and complicated history of Aboriginal involvement in football

Over the next two weekends, the Australian Football League celebrates the contribution of Indigenous peoples to the history of the game. At the same time, a new documentary will show...

Curious Kids: why are there waves?

Nina Maile Gordon/The Conversation, CC BY-NC-NDCurious Kids is a series for children. If you have a question you’d like an expert to answer, send it to curiouskids@theconversation.edu.au You might also...

Why Sydney residents use 30% more water per day than Melburnians

Melbourne's water supplies are running low after years of drought.shutterstockThis week Melbourne’s water storage dropped below 50%, a sign of the prolonged and deepening drought gripping eastern Australia. Sydney is...

Friday essay: YouTube apologies and reality TV revelations

A little over a year ago, former Australian cricket captain Steve Smith made a tearful confession and apology to the public, having been banned from cricket for 12 months for...

six ingredients of successful public policy

Australia’s national policy response to HIV/AIDS has been lauded as one of the best in the world.ShutterstockIn the lead up to the recent federal election, there was plenty of negative...

Population DNA testing for disease risk is coming. Here are five things to know

Screening millions of healthy people for their risk of disease can be cost-effective. But it raises ethical and regulatory concerns.from www.shutterstock.comDNA testing to predict disease risk has the potential to...

How the dangerous evolution of Pakistan’s national security state threatens domestic stability

Protests followed the terrorist attack that killed more than 40 Indian military personnel in the disputed state of Jammu and Kashmir. AAP/Jaipal Singh, CC BY-NDIn February, a terrorist attack by...

the tall buildings of Australia show why we need strong design guidelines

Towering canyons of concrete and glass are an increasingly dominant feature of fast-growing cities like Melbourne.ymgerman/ShutterstockPrivate enterprise has shaped the skylines of Australia’s cities, and the names of their highest...

If you think less immigration will solve Australia's problems, you're wrong; but neither will more

More by luck than design, recent recent levels of immigration seem to be in a 'goldilocks zone' that balances economic, social and environmental objectives.www.shutterstock.comAre we letting too many or too...

Let them play! Kids need freedom from play restrictions to develop

Playing in nature improves children's learning, social and emotional skills.MI PHAM/unsplashYou may have heard of play. It’s that thing children do – the diverse range of unstructured, spontaneous activities and...

Gamers use machine learning to navigate complex video games – but it's not free

Playing Dota 2? You can do better with a little help from machine learning.Shutterstock/hkhtt hj Some of the world’s most popular video games track your activity as you play –...

Popular articles from Modern Australian

EXYRA eyewearShould you get a hair transplant in Turkey if your hair is grey?Do You Need a Tummy Tuck or Just Liposuction?Best 4 Sassicaia Wine with Soothing Taste and AromaMarvelous Makeover - 5 Tips to Revitalize Your Look This SummerWhat to Expect When Recovering from Gynecomastia SurgeryClickClack Pantry Range | Helping Australians save time & moneyThe Gentleman’s Guide to Wearing Custom TiesGynecomastia – Understanding the Facts and Treatment OptionsIs Coffee Good for you10 Foods Which Reduce Blood Sugar Levels4 Unexpected Reasons Why You Could Be Losing Your HairWhat to Do When Traveling From Australia to USAWhat we should know about ‘nitric oxide’ and why we need more of itDownsizing: What Is Too Small?