Many parents will have positive aspirations for their children in terms of sport and many would hope their children might become champions of the future. This aspiration can be very positive, but at the same time it can add pressure in terms of making the right coaching and pathway choices for the children.
My experiences working with and coaching kids from a young age have taught me a lot, I thought I would put together some information and advice designed to help parents who feel as if they are stumbling their way through the early days of a chosen sport.
Many children will find their way into sport by accident – while some take a more deliberate route. One of the structured ways a child can discover a love for sport, is through Talent ID events at schools, otherwise known as “Talent Identification”.
Typically, a sports academy visits a school and takes the children through a number of exercises to see if they can identify any children who might have what it takes to be a champion in the sport the academy represents. Two sports that use this approach are tennis and squash.
This is one of the easier ways to get started in sport; the academies usually belong to their sporting governing body, and provide a very structured pathway for the academy coaches to follow. Once they have been ID’d, and join the club or academy, the first step would be to train towards county level, then regional, national and international, and ultimately to attain senior international level where they can eventually compete on the world stage in their chosen sport as a senior.
This has happened to two girls from our tennis academy, both were scouted at around seven years old, and both are now junior British internationals competing on the international junior stage.
Parents can also take their children to a sports club if they show an interest in a particular sport. It can be harder for the children to get to a high level using this route but it’s still possible. Some ways to make the path a bit easier include;
- Do your research into the clubs on your list of potentials
- Look at the coaching staff and the level of their coaching qualifications
- Ensure the club venue is high quality, safe and suitable
- Visit the club and watch some sessions to get a feel for the approach and style
- Confirm the level of commitment needed in the chosen sport and cost
I believe that if you want to know whether you are approaching the right academy or club for elite sport, you must look at the results, and more importantly, recent results. If the club you are considering has a good portfolio of county, regional and national players, and maybe a few that have reached international status, this is a very good indicator that you could potentially be on the right path. If they have a range from county to international, it represents a very strong development pathway within their set up. It tends to indicate that the coaching is structured, balanced and well planned and supports the child as they travel along the competitive pathway of the sport.
For advice on what to do when you have talented children and want to support them in their chosen sport, we love Judy Murray’s book ‘Knowing the Score’…
There’s also plenty of good advice out there; check out the NSPCC ‘Parents in Sport’ information and look out for details about Parents in Sport week which is coming up on 2-8 October 2017.
The focus this year continues to be on highlighting the valuable role parents play – and the positive influence they have – in ensuring young people develop to their full potential and enjoy their time playing sport.
Nino Severino – Learn Play Grow Founder