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Thursday, August 2, 2012

Parents Guide on:
easier than you think and NOT what you think!
Part 1 of 2
Training athletes of all ages and skill levels, I am often intrigued by what parents and athletes think what they know about getting 'better' at their respective sports. And lets just say I won't  being going out of business anytime soon! Business is good. I often here though the lament of uninformed parents: 'He/She got two left feet", 'he/she needs to get 'mean'", and my favorite "I been training 'em but need someone that he will listen too". A priceless classic. These are the most popular phrases I hear regarding how parents want their kids to be a 'better' athlete. The irony is they have not the slightest idea what that means!

During pre-adolescent, both male and female bodies, go through a natural maturation process. Muscle, skeletal structure and neural conduction (coordination) are developing at remarkable rates especially if the proper environment is provided. Before there is an attempt to push your child into a sport YOU think they should try,  the best environment, in my opinion as a father and sports performance specialist is teaching your kids to play. Yes. I said teach. Some years ago I read this New York Times piece on parents who actually hired people to teach their kids to ride a bike! HIuh?! The coolest thing to watch your kid do is conquer their first challenge.  So teaching your kid how to ride a bike, go down a slide, do the 'monkey' bars etc is essential in stimulating coordination and strength. I believe playing is the best way.

When my son was born, I vowed to practice what I preached, and took him to the parks often. This encouraged play and confidence building (get into later) as he conquered climbing up the slide ladder and eventually down the slide! I see many parents make the mistake, usually dads, who will pick football or basketball as a sport they want their child to pursue without regard to other sports. Ignorance is the key denominator in this decision making. They are choosing sports they KNOW! I purchased basketball, lacrosse sticks, football, baseball, soccer, hockey sticks, golf, and boxing gloves. My son tried them all and his mom took him swimming! I'd put this equipment all in a bag and when we arrived at  the park he would pick which one he wanted to play. Oh. Did I mention we played dodge ball?  He would simply try to hit me with a nerf ball, but I was moving. Now that is tough for a 4 year old! Talk about agility training! We did this random game play till he was 7.

When introducing your child to sport and training it is important to keep the first 6 years of their 'sports' life unstructured. That means not sending them to every sports camp in the state or signing them up for Gymboree classes. Take them to the park! The park has other kids that are developing functional motor skills, and they don't even realize they are off to a great start to becoming a good athlete. More importantly you can see how kids problem solve obstacles, how they fall and get up ( an under rated   motor skill), how they interact with other kids i.e. can they play together? The beauty of this is that you have introduced them to the basic tenets of sport specific skills:

  • Mobility
  • Agility 
  • Speed
  • Power
  • Strength

PART 2: Takes more than 'GOT MILK?' coming in future blog!

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