Talent is a complex cocktail of genetics and training, nature and nurture. As a parent, it’s tempting to push kids to excel in sports and focus early on one sport year-round. There are reasons why sport diversification is good for kids, though. One reason is that playing the same sport year-round can overuse the same muscles and lead to injuries. Allowing kids to experiment with different sports is also a good way to find out what they’re good at as well as excel in.
Playing more than one sport is just the start, though. To truly give a child leeway to experiment, it’s important to allow for implicit learning to take place. Implicit learning is the kind of learning babies do, without fear of failure. Parents and coaches can encourage this kind of environment by pointing out when athletes do something right, not harping when something goes wrong.
Another way to help talented youngsters to succeed is by encouraging play and intuition, followed by reflection. Perhaps you’ve heard of the Socratic method, a dialogue between a student and a teacher in which the teacher focuses on asking questions, stimulating critical thinking and drawing out the student’s own ideas and perspectives. Post-performance reflection can be a kind of Socratic method. Encourage kids to think about what they did well, what they could improve on, and who can help them to improve.
Summer day camp and after school camp are a great place for kids to experiment with new sports. At SportsTyme, we specifically switch-up which sports are played every day. That way, kids have the opportunity to try out many new sports, maybe some they’ve never played before, and discover new talents.