Sport is best enjoyed by an athlete when he or she has a passion for the sport they are playing.
All over the world there are young kids being forced into deliberate practice before they’ve had the opportunity to play and find out if they love the game or not. We advise that young athletes be allowed to explore, unleash and unveil the complete athlete in them before the coaches or managers teach them the play procedures.
Street soccer is the perfect example of allowing an athlete to discover themselves. Many of the top players in history didn’t belong to academies, at that early stage they were their coaches, physicians, and motivators. They played the game for fun. When they had reached their limits and interested clubs saw their ability, they took them from the streets and provided facilities for deliberate practice.
When players are put into structured practice before having the opportunity to just play, we find they play the game with a mindset of looking for the external reward instead of for personal satisfaction. The struggle by the athlete to satisfy the world before satisfying themselves sends them in the wrong direction to keep up with unrealistic expectations.
Budding athletes should also not be restricted to playing one sport. Yes, they may have dreams of playing professionally one day but spending time in other sports isn’t going to stop that happening if that is their course. Rather it would go a long way in helping the athlete’s muscles to remain as flexible as ever, while increasing things like stamina, agility and learning different skills that can assist in the development of their main focus.
Playing sports also enhances the thinking capacity of a child. Constant playing and practice will help develop the brain of the child and equips them with basic skills for problem solving. Parents and coaches alike should endeavor to put play first before practice. Some parents enroll their kids in a sports academy and ask the coaches to teach their children certain qualities of a pro athlete even when their children has zero interest in the game. They want their children to be like Lionel Messi or Serena Williams and nothing less. They opt for practice before play, this must change.
Young athletes must be allowed to play sports first for the fun of it until their performance levels and limits are uncovered before they are made to learn deliberate practice procedures.
Better People. Better Players.