Today, there is an excessive focus on young athletes needing to develop skills. Yet, while they are undoubtedly essential to learn, skill training appears to overshadow a child’s functional and physical development.
Play Other Sports to Enhance Skill Development
Children can improve their ability in their sport by focusing on strength aspects and by playing other sports. For example, playing basketball can boost soccer skills by developing quick footwork. Or playing basketball can improve deceleration on the soccer field.
Instead of spending hours practicing passing a ball around or a backhand tennis swing, a child can engage in a sport or activity that together enhances their physical skills and development. It’s fun and exciting for them. If you bore the child, skills will never develop.
Playing different sports can help young athletes improve their skills by making them move more dynamically. This means they will use their bodies in various ways to help develop things like footwork, agility, and movement patterns. In addition, playing other sports will show young athletes how to move their bodies in different ways that can contribute to learning new skills.
How to Develop a Skill
If you want to develop a specific skill, you need to do more than just train it. For example, if you want to improve lateral bounding and you can’t balance on one leg, jumping drills won’t help improve that. Instead, you need to develop balance and stability exercises first.
To be agile, fast, and explosive, you must develop balance and stability. If you’re not stable, then you won’t be able to do lateral movements or any single-leg jumping quickly. Stability is what improves explosiveness and speed, not just jumping repeatedly.
If you teach proper mechanics and function with skill, the child will understand this at an early age and carry this forward in time. Child athletes must know that “pain equals no gain.” And that training correctly will provide the best results.
Tips for Teaching Skills with Physical Development
It is essential to recognize that building on skills takes time and practice. Therefore, patience and persistence are crucial when developing skills.
Have children play other sports that have cross-over effects. For example, playing squash and racquetball can improve soccer agility, deceleration, timing, and coordination.
Make skill repetition perfect practice. When the child starts making mistakes, stop. The skill will not be learned much after this point, and errors will begin reinforcing mistakes. Stop when on top.
Don’t have the child do skills as fast as they can. Instead, teach the skill and then add speed gradually. If you add speed simultaneously when learning, it will not work. Our brain works on a feedback loop system. What can be done slowly first can be done fast. But what can be done fast will never correct itself. Speed is just a fast-forward version of what can be done slowly.
When you teach a skill, be sure to play games or create drills that make them use the skill in a fun way. For example, play games like dodgeball and tag to help with agility and deceleration. These games are a great way to incorporate skills training and fun simultaneously.
Teach one skill, not many. When young athletes can master one skill, the art of mastery will help them develop faster and will understand how to evolve. Start slow, perfect the skill, then add speed. Finally, teach how to react and integrate it into play. Most importantly, don’t hammer it for hours each day. Instead, spread it out over time.
Coordinate skills around individual ability. Skilled players who know how to respond and move with their own flow have a much better chance of setting themselves up for success.
Skills are essential to develop but don’t need to supersede the functional aspects. For example, children discover their talents and abilities through play, trial, and error. This stimulates their curiosity that boosts their creativity.
Integrate the Two
Finding a balance between specialization and developing diverse physical development is essential. Therefore, you shouldn’t spend all your time on one thing. Instead, you should spread out skill training and make sure you’re developing other skills. Because learning different skills, along with general childhood physical play, contributes to mastering a skill.
Parents should remember that focusing too much on skills-based practice and not enough on physical development can be bad for a child’s growth. This is because physical development in sports and childhood play constructs the child’s mind in an evolved way for sports and life.