Is your child’s sports training simply about ticking a box? You’re not alone. Many parents are just pleased to drag their kids away from screens; it doesn’t really matter what sport they’re playing. Right?
Not exactly. This decision deserves more attention. What do you actually want from your child’s training sessions?
As the summer season approaches, it’s the perfect time to stop and reflect. After all, you invest a lot of time, effort and money in extra-curricular activities. So, ask yourself these five questions to decide whether you’re spending your resources wisely.
1. Is your child actually learning and developing skills, or is their coach too focused on winning the weekend match?
Have you ever watched a basketball training session where the kids simply line up and shoot hoops? The short-term objective is to score more baskets and win Saturday’s match – and then, hopefully the Grand Final.
But what about teaching proper techniques for accurate and powerful throwing? Or for effective stopping and starting? Skills that build confident and capable sports people; and skills that transfer to other sports, down the track.
2. Is there too much emphasis on competition?
Have you heard the expression “never leave the playground”? Sport isn’t just about competition and results – it’s about harnessing that child-like feeling of freedom and creativity that comes from playing games, versus playing a match.
Often, parents value competition and victory more than children do. In fact, when children were asked what they hoped to achieve from sport, their top two answers were having fun and meeting friends. Winning was much further down the list.
3. What are your child’s current needs?
Consider your child’s progress in physical literacy – that is, acquiring fundamental skills for movement and sport. Children need a sporting experience that teaches age-appropriate physical literacy, instead of focusing on winning. That comes later. At Run Ready, we call these our development pathways.
Children have different needs, depending on their natural ability, their age and their stage. Is your 5-year-old embarrassed because he can’t catch a ball? Does your 7-year old lack confidence in team sport situations? Does your sporty teenager need to build mental capability in order to compete?
4. What are the long-term benefits of your child’s training?
The Australian Institute of Sport uses the acronym FISH for children’s sport: it should be Fun, Inclusive, Safe and High Activity. When these criteria are met, children enjoy sport; they persevere, and reap the long-term physical and emotional benefits of an active life. They’ll be healthier, stronger, fitter.
Alternatively, disengaged kids are at risk of dropping out of sport. If they’re spending too much time on the sidelines, or feeling excluded, or experiencing too much pressure, they’ll opt out.
So, how does your child’s training measure up against FISH? And how is their involvement shaping their interests, skills and attitudes for the long-term? Will they be a life-long mover?
5. Which short, medium and long-term outcomes do you want for your child?
You’ve considered your child’s current needs; their skill development; and viewed their sport in the context of FISH. Now, you’re ready to decide the outcomes you want for your child. Remember, our expert coaches have over 20 years of experience and are happy to offer their advice. Quite simply, your child deserves the best possible start in life.
Learn more about Run Ready’s training for kids.