What happens after an athlete's initial introduction to sport?

    So much of what I have written in these articles has focused on how important the grassroots level of sport development is and why massive efforts should be exerted in Malaysia to develop it. But what happens after that? What's the next step after an athlete has gone through the initial introduction to a sport?

    Let's pretend that Malaysia already has a thriving grassroots level sports program, that millions of young Malaysians are involved in some kind of sport action every week, that parents support their children in sport, that well trained coaches are plentiful, and that sport associations are effective and economically stable.

    A whopping 30% of Malaysians are under 15 years of age. That means over 9 million kids could be prime youth sport participants, nine million kids that could be involved in sport practices and competitions if our grassroots scenario were true. And we're pretending it is, so, now what? What do those 9 million kids need to thrive in a youth sport environment?

    First, they need opportunities. They need opportunities to practice, play, and compete. They need something beyond the several weeks each year that schools are able to devote to targeted sport competitions. They need a real sport season with numerous competitions that are open to all and leading to some kind of championship competition.

    They need coaches who can provide continuity between school sport and community sport. These coaches need to be trained and able to work within both an educational sport framework as well as a commercial, stand-alone sport framework. This means sport clubs that operate as businesses; who are part of the sport association but not run by the association.

    How does this work? The first step is to make sport training clubs a viable commercial idea. There are already some examples of this in Malaysia. Gymnastic training, for example, is offered by clubs on a commercial basis. Currently they may attract only those families able to pay the fees but in future Malaysian sport aficionados need to find a way to attract all who wish to participate into these clubs. Sponsorship or scholarship of athletes is one way to do this but there are others. Some of this is already happening, the key is to find ways to make it happen on a much larger scale.

    We know that at the earliest stages of sport participation the coach has a limited time to get an athlete hooked on the activity; that each practice should be designed to leave the athlete wanting more and looking forward to the next one.

    As time passes though the responsibility shifts from being solely the coach's to being a shared responsibility with the athlete. The good news is that with knowledgeable coaches at the introductory level the athlete will be able to develop a passion for the activity. They will become students of the game and their passion for the sport will become internalized rather than directed from an external source.

    Does this mean that every young athlete who has a knowledgeable coach will develop into an elite performer? If only that were so! But what it does mean is that those athletes with the desire to excel, to learn the sport, and a passion to compete will be ready to accept the responsibility for their own success once they are old enough to do so.

    At that stage the coach's role changes and becomes secondary to the athlete's own motivation. The coach still has a vital role to play but the responsibility for the athlete's participation and success is now shared unlike the earliest stages when it rested mostly, if not wholly, with the coach. So after the initial period of participation is over and as an athlete's time in the sport lengthens he begins taking a more responsible role in his training. And as his knowledge and understanding of the sport deepens the beginning of possible elite status is hatched. But whether this status is reached or not, a young adult emerges with a love for physical activity, a passion for sport, and, hopefully, a willingness to pass it on.

    --------
    Bill Price (price@sportkid.asia) is the owner and Chief Data Scientist at Sportkid Metrics.

     

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    Deliberate practice vs. late specialization - 24 September 2018


    Is talent identification even possible? - 17 September 2018


    Who won the Asian Games? - 10 September 2018


    Re-thinking the mission of Malaysia's sport associations - 03 September 2018


    Using maturity offsets to determine age at peak height velocity - 27 August 2018


    The youth sport talent illusion: How we confuse early-maturers with good athletes - 13 August 2018


    The tip of the iceberg: What are we seeing when we watch elite sport performances? - 30 July 2018


    7 things youth sport coaches should know - 25 June 2018


    Who is responsible for athlete performance: Athletes, coaches, or committees? - 18 June 2018


    Creating a culture of achievement in sport - 05 June 2018


    Sport development in the headlines (sort of): Is Malaysia really serious about revamping their sports system? - 28 May 2018


    Who won the Commonwealth Games? A points analysis of the Gold Coast games - 23 April 2018


    Kaizen: Improving sport administration will improve performance - 02 April 2018


    What can Malaysia learn from Norway about sport development? - 05 March 2018


    More efficiency tips for coaches: Dealing with more than one email address and other communication ideas - 26 February 2018


    Efficiency tips for coaches: What can you do to work more efficiently? - 19 February 2018


    LTAD: Training to compete - 22 January 2018


    Sport clubs are the lifeblood of national sport development. They need help from sport associations to do their job. - 15 January 2018


    Sometimes taking risks is the only way to improve: Take a chance! - 18 December 2017


    How we calculate age in youth sports can have benefits and consequences - 11 December 2017


    What is bio-banding? Can it help reduce the relative age effect in sport? - 04 December 2017


    Understanding the role that intrinsic and extrinsic motivation play in the athlete development process - 20 November 2017


    Great expectations: Expect more, get more! What we learn from raising the bar in sport performance - 14 November 2017


    Why process is far more important than outcome in a learning environment - 25 September 2017


    Sport associations are embracing physical literacy training - 18 September 2017


    Creating a true sport development system in Malaysia - 11 September 2017


    Who won the SEA Games? - 04 September 2017


    KL2017: Reporting individual sport results deserved better planning - 29 August 2017


    Can we please forget about ways to identify talent and just work on getting more athletes? - 07 August 2017


    Using the team selection process to boost motivation and increase athlete participation - 24 July 2017


    LTAD: The Train to Train stage - 10 July 2017


    LTAD: The Learn-to-Train stage - 26 June 2017


    Athletic training for youngsters - 12 June 2017


    Visualization and imagery in sports - 05 June 2017


    Young, single-sport athletes suffer more injuries and do not reach their full potential - 29 May 2017


    Transformational vs. transactional coaching - 23 May 2017


    Will they come back tomorrow? The most important KPI for youth sport coaches - 08 May 2017


    Advice to parents of young athletes - 01 May 2017


    Is VIP leadership of sport associations a good idea? - 22 March 2017


    What happens after an athlete's initial introduction to sport? - 27 February 2017


    "Where do athletes come from?" A paper presented at the Kuching sport psychology conference - 16 January 2017


    Understanding sport talent pathways - 09 January 2017


    Make 2017 the year of the growth mindset - 02 January 2017


    Teaching physical literacy skills in youth sport practices - 12 December 2016


    Developing sport from the ground up: How does the process really work? - 06 December 2016


    Pay for what you want: Why less government funding may be the best strategy for sport development - 21 November 2016


    The 10,000 hour rule: "Not for the faint of heart nor for the impatient" - 14 November 2016


    Parent involvement in their child's sport participation sometimes backfires - 07 November 2016


    How to do the measurements for determining peak height velocity (PHV) - 24 October 2016


    A foreign coach is not always the answer - 17 October 2016


    Tips on creating an effective coaching environment - 10 October 2016


    Peak height velocity and aerobic development: Using simple measurement data to inform training decisions - 26 September 2016


    Early sport specialization is still not a good idea - 19 September 2016


    What kind of data do we need to develop sports? - 13 September 2016


    The attrition and transformation models of sport development - 05 September 2016


    Solve for <x> - 29 August 2016


    Artificial elimination of athletes from training and competition hinders sport development in Malaysia - 15 August 2016


    Time is the most important factor in talent development - 01 August 2016


    What if opportunity never knocks? - 13 June 2016


    The long-term athlete development framework offers youngsters a chance at sport success and an active and healthy life - 06 June 2016


    Early sport specialization is not a good development strategy - 30 May 2016


    What does a declining population mean for sport? - 2 February 2016


    Coaching 'flow' - 11 November 2015


    The coach's role in creating a deliberate practice environment - 02 November 2015


    When should athletes specialize in a single sport? - 11 September 2015


    Physical literacy: The Holy Grail of health, wellness, and sport development - 1 September 2015


    Revisiting the 10,000 hour rule: Practical thoughts on talent and practice - 10 August 2015


    The power of 'not yet' - 20 July 2015


    Let's stop trying to identify sport talent and start developing it - 22 June 2015