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Old 05-28-2007, 12:57 PM   #1
Jason Naubur
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Let me preface my question with this - I have 3 kids ages 7, 5 and almost 2. So while I am biased (though I try really hard not to be as a general rule) I have some comparison to other children mine and friends.

My youngest (Maxwell) is almost 2, and he is amazing with any ball, bat or racquet. Obvioulsly everything is relative, but for his age he is a sport maniac. All he wants to do is kick or hit balls - endlessly. He goes and gets them, carries them up stairs, over obstacles etc. to get you to play with them. If we go to the zoo he points out all the balls in the cages indeed his first word was 'ball' - no joke.

Things I have noticed different from my other kids - he watches the ball, not me. When playing with my oldest a few years ago he would always watch me as the ball flew past him. Maxwell watches and waits, and now he is starting to use his whole body to hit / kick. I can go on...

My question, (sorry for the long preamble) is what should I do. Leave him to the volunteer (no sleight against these great people) coaches, look for 'competetive' leagues. Should I pick a sport and learn to coach him. Just wait for a few years. I don't know - but I feel that this might be an opportunity for him that I shouldn't miss.


Thanks,

Jason
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Old 05-28-2007, 01:18 PM   #2
Veronica Carpenter
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I always volunteered for my daughter's softball, soccer teams whether it's Team Mom, Manager, or assistand coach. That way I always have a say in how they are trained/coached.

You've got a few years until you really have to worry about that. So, in the mean time just let him play to his hearts content. :-) Children don't fair well with too much pushing from parents. Unfortunately, that fine line isn't always easy to define.
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Old 05-28-2007, 05:02 PM   #3
George Mounce
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Interesting this same subject came up in discussion with some of my colleagues.

For now Jason I'd let him play whatever he wants and I would continue to positively encourage him. Most children will show an affinity to a particular sport and drift towards it, but it is always good to have a wide range for them to choose from. In this era of children's sports specialization (the drive for the next Tiger as its called) it can later on cause burnout for a young athlete. At the same time in Australia, they have the Australian Institute of Sport which helps young athletes specialize. Unfortunately in the U.S. its mainly up to the parents, and hope to get noticed through pure talent and a lot of sacrifice and pushing.

I agree with Veronica, don't push to hard, let him figure out what he wants, encourage him, and give him ample opportunities to shine.
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Old 05-28-2007, 08:01 PM   #4
Veronica Carpenter
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On a side note. This was just discussed on another board I visit. While we shouldn't push our kids too hard, a little coaxing is necessary for the child that's resistant to trying new things.

Case in point, my 15yo never "chose" to join gymnastics. Actually, she's far from naturally athletic and until now was only a mediocre soccer player. Yep, I made her - told her to give it a try since her sisters wanted to join. She discovered it was a great way to stay fit and kept her ahead of her class - even the boys in their PE assesment. She's the one that didn't want to quit when her sisters did. This year they were all invited to Team. We (parents and coaches) gave them the choice of whether to go to Team or stay recreational. They chose Team.
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Old 05-31-2007, 12:15 PM   #5
Mikki Lee Martin
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Great advice.
It sounds like he has an affinity that will guide him regardless what anyone (Coaches, etc)does or does not do. Your continued awareness of what he needs will be primary, but it sounds like his natural enjoyment will lead him.
Keep posting his progress !
Mikki
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Old 05-31-2007, 01:36 PM   #6
Rene Renteria
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I just got and have been reading Vern Gambetta's Athletic Development. (You can find a link on the sidebar of his good blog here (w/f s):
http://functionalpathtraining.blogspot.com/ .)

In it, he talks some about early development (pre-pubescent on up through elite athlete) and how it is important that they NOT specialize, that they learn movement of all types, mostly through play and also through sports. Early specialization can lead to overuse injuries and to not learning all sorts of movement patterns.

You might also look at some of the writings on Go Animal here (w/f s):
http://www.goanimal.com/

about the importance of play and movement.

One of the ideas in these is that, in some youth sports, the emphasis is on winning and competition, which cuts into practice time for basic movements. Coaches of even small kids will spend time in practice on tactics and very sport-specific aims to win games at the expense of basic functional athletic development, which would be better for the kids.

Gambetta makes a point that, for example, English youth soccer (or football, if you prefer) leagues are only allowed to have 1 game per week, whereas it's common in the US to have tournaments where kids play 5 or 6 games in one weekend. At early ages, it's not about winning games, it's about learning and doing movement patterns.

Early specialization also prevents practice in movement patterns prevalent in other sports (e.g., baseball vs. soccer).

Anyway, something to look into and consider.

Your awareness about it is great; you'll always be able to put your kids in environments that encourage play and movement instead of the opposite.

Best,
Rene'
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Old 05-31-2007, 08:35 PM   #7
Randy Gruezo
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Jason,

I feel the same way like you. My son just turned 4 and he is super strong at least that's what i think for his age. He just watches me do WODs and mimics me.

Shoot we went to a local fitness equipment store and he asked me to buy him dumbells. So I did the 3 pounds. LOL Now he does thrusters with me and loves doing pullups on the rings. He can do about 3-4 (maybe more depending upon his motivation) jumping pullups. To him everything is just a fun game.

This leads to your situation. I just let him play and develop all his motor skills. Like Rene said no specialization needed. At this stage of development he is learning gross motor skills and patterns.

There are probably many talented kids we never heard of due to overzealous parents (although there are other reasons) that never realized their full potential just due to burnout and disinterest. I mean they participate in every sport every season. When do they rest? That' why the rate of injuries in kids are increasing. Just a lot of overuse. T

My background is in Motor Learning and Development. So I experiment with my son :-) even though my mentor told me not to. Anyhow his greatest piece of advice to me was "Let him discover" don't get in his way. Just be there just in case so he doesn't hurt himself. I think it's working because my son just wants to do everything. My two cent

Randy
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Old 06-01-2007, 05:33 AM   #8
Tom Fetter
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Play is the thing, for sure. But when a kid finds that pushing him/herself physically is a big part of the fun, I'm all for building some technique and intensity into it.

While my older 2 kids are now reliably active, twasn't always so. My youngest, though, has moved his body with staggering intensity since he could first sit up. Quite literally climbed the walls (OK, doorways) at 4 years old, and taught himself to do multiple HSPU after learning to do a headstand at age 6.

I've tried to encourage as much growth and development as I could, while not focusing on simply one sport. Let him choose where he wants to go sport-wise ... but get him doing more challenging stuff (e.g. kipping pullups while on the monkey bars) as part of the "play." He's done well in gymnastics, swimming, soccer ... and we're having fun doing Starting Strength weight training and CrossFit WODs together. He takes no end of pleasure in kicking my butt on knees-to-elbows, L-sits, pushups etc.

I think he can specialize later, once one particular sport truly grabs him. Till then, follow up where his interest leads, and encourage him to find his limits.
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Old 06-01-2007, 01:08 PM   #9
Jason Naubur
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Wow, I really appreciate all the advice. Not being a very assertive person by nature I tend to let my kids find things out, but I do point them and help them.

I don't want to push any of them, I guess I will let them play on my rings, make the climbing wall I always threaten to build and keep rolling around with them. But I will start to take them to the soccer field / baseball diamond when there isn't a game and put in more time just giving pointers on technique and just playing. I am wary of crossing the line where you become the coach, not the dad so I will keep it fun!

I will read up on those links when I get home!


Jason
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Old 06-01-2007, 05:44 PM   #10
Skip Chase
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Good stuff, Rene!
Another is Tudor Bompa, PhD. He first developed the concept of 'periodization of strength' in Romania in 1963, as he helped the eastern bloc countries rise to dominance of the athletic world.

In his book, "Total Training for Young Champions " (www.humankinetics.com) he states, "Childhood represents the most physically active stage of human development. Children like to play games and participate in physical activity and sports, and they certainly love to compete.
Parents, instructors, coaches and administrators search for the best training programs to increase children's athletic potential. Coaches often become role models, and children dream of surpassing the achievements of Michael Jordan, Kurt Browning, Joe Montana, Tara Lipinski, Carl Lewis, or Nadia Comeneci. It is , however, a grave mistake to submit children to the training programs of adults. After all, children are not simply little adults. Children are unique at each stage in their development, with differing physiological capabilities at each stage."


In his book he suggest a training model referring to the three stages of development: prepubescence, pubescence and postpubescence.

The $20 book is excellent reading for the parent and inexperienced coach of younger children.


www.mtbakercrossfit.blogspot.com
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