What you’re about to read is going to shake you to your parent-of-the-year core! We all want what’s best for our kids and are willing to do whatever it takes to help them achieve their goals. This simple premise can’t be argued. But the way we go about it might make you shake you head or want to cry.
Many of us think that specialization is the key to getting ahead for a young athlete. We hear stories about how Tiger Woods had a golf club in the crib and his Dad had him watching gold videos before he could even sit up on his own. We assume that this is the best way for us to help our youngsters get ahead in sports.
I have been asked to give lessons to a 4 year old, Really!
Just like you need to crawl before you can walk and walk before you can run, the same is true of all game-playing skills. Young kids need to learn movement before they learn skills. They need to develop awareness of their body and what it is capable of doing before we try to teach game-specific strategies. Learning basic movement allows an athlete to gain confidence without the fear of failure that accompanies sport specific skills.
Bottom line – if you want your youngster to become a better athlete, it will come from more play rather than more practice. If a young player hasn’t learned how to twist and stretch, they probably won’t be able to hit or catch. It they haven’t learned how to run and jump and fall and get back up, they aren’t going to be able to slide into a base. If they haven’t climbed a tree or played Twister or a simple game of tag they might not have the confidence to run the bases with the reckless abandon we all admire from an older player.
So you want her to be a great player, let her be great at PLAY!