23 February 2018 – The need for guidelines to train different age groups has been expressed many times. This emanates from statements such as “adult training is not youth training” or “a child is not a mini adult”. These statements are part of the debate over what may be regarded as appropriate training of children from the age of five to their prime days in competitive sport. These statements and questions are actually questioning the validity and relevance of the player development model followed around the world. Let us call this the Long Term Player Development Model
The period 5-17 is called Grassroots. Some people will call it their way. It is fine.
It is further divided into three major overlapping categories called Fundamental of Movement (FOM)5-8, Fundamental of Sport(FOS)9-8 and Sport Specific Kills(SSS) 11-12.
The titles of these categories refer to the main training needs of children in these categories. In reality the mental and physical requirements are functionally blended together in the process of training and guiding these children in their journey to adulhoot in general and sport in particular. For example a simple ball juggling exercise seeks to build the Balance, Coordination and Agility (physical) while challenging and building their concentration and peripheral vision (mental) as well. All these are the foundation of technical skill mastery at the Sport Specific Skill section and future tactical application in severely restricted spaces at elite level.
Focus is now on The Fundamental Of Movement Stage: 5-6 year olds
These children have training needs that must be taken care of as a foundation for more complex activities, skills and tactics later in their lives. Time is now to really pay attention to these needs and get it right without worrying about the demands of stages above this stage.
Knowing the child First
What are the major characteristics of children in this stage? Numerous factors influence our growth as human beings. These include genetics and a multiplicity of environmental factors we experience on an ongoing basis in life. Children may be of the same age or age bracket but vary greatly in maturation rate (a topic for another day). That is the reason why a coach/parent must be observant enough not be blinded by these guide lines but in order to react accordingly to the needs of the child as a unique individual and stimulate the child in relation to the reality of maturation in front of him/her.
These children, according to widely recorded research findings over many years, generally display some or many of the following:
- They are clumsy and uncoordinated
- They show a very short attention span.
- They cannot handle too many instructions
- Still single dimensional in their vision. They look at the object in front in front without noticing many other influential factors around it or them
- These children are found to be easily distracted and are very self centred.
- They are not yet able to work in groups or teams
- Adult behaviour is accepted as the best form of examples to follow
- They may also demonstrate low self confidence
- Their game is uncoordinated and makes little sense
- They do all they do for FUN.
In the next edition we concentrate on what should constitute their training content, methodology and what the coach and parent should always observe and stick to when dealing with them.