Thursday, January 20, 2011

"Active Start" for the Long Run

While sport participation is a major factor in the development of most North American children, age appropriate activities are even more important for instilling a long term love of sports. And it’s even better if you can get your child to be involved in a variety of activities throughout the year.

It’s alright if you want to develop your 3-year old into the next Sidney Crosby or Alexandre Bilodeau. While flooding your back yard or making a moguls course provides opportunities for developing sport-specific skills, research now shows that the focus of these efforts should be on learning the basic skills applicable to all sports. So it really is best to incorporate some of the fundamental movement skills first and foremost.

The first of the seven stages of the Canadian Sport for Life Long Term Athlete Development (LTAD) Model is called “Active Start” where girls and boys from the day of their birth until 6 years of age, should focus on fun daily activities. Basic skills and movements like running, jumping, throwing, catching and kicking should be of prime importance. As well, children should be interacting with other young kids which helps them build on their interpersonal skills – something that can be carried into adulthood.

We know that the benefits of playing sports are numerous. In order to keep our kids engaged in sport and prevent burnout, recommendations suggest kids should participate in a variety of physical activities long before specialization begins.

Keep it fun. Keep it simple. Mix it up.

Video: American Development Model USA Hockey “This Is Hockey”

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