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Does Early Exposure to Sports Determine a Child’s Skill Set?

“If at first you don’t succeed try, try, try again”. I am sure many of you have heard this phrase once in your life.  There are many different opinions regarding the question at hand so I did a little research to see what the experts are saying.

How many times have you come across a child whose parents were great athletes, but they missed that line coming down the pipe and vice versa?  Some studies have shown that genetics play a major role in whether a person becomes an athlete or not.  These same studies often suggest that genetics can be broken into 2 areas: 1) what a person has while generally “unconditioned” and 2) the aptitude for change via training effect.  Many professional athletes possess both attributes. The term “Unconditioned” varies from person to person and is based upon environment.    Many believe it to be easy to test the ability of a person in an “unconditioned” state. Why?? because at this state the sky is the limit especially with a teachable athlete.  There is even discussion surrounding the chemical activated protein kinase, also known as AMPK, which sometimes serves as a regulator of endurance output.

A sport is a physiological activity which sometimes require more intelligence than not.  Other sports require little intelligence, but require more of a physical skill. How can you objectively measure athletic intelligence relative to the demands of any particular sport?  That is truly a good question, but this is when a coach’s skill comes into play.  A knowledgeable coach makes subjective decisions all the time regarding the mental state of an athlete. Different sports require different levels of coaching and social/economic opportunity than others in order for the athlete to develop enough skills to be successful.  No matter what, if the athlete is not interested or motivated, then it will not happen.

When taking a holistic perspective to address this question it is impossible to determine at a young age what child will develop the adequate skill set throughout life.  Using anthropometric and psychological methods to determine skill set based on research has shown to be problematic, especially when looking at sports such as soccer and football.  The holistic approach suggests we look at passion, desire, discipline, confidence, etc. as key factors to determine whether one will be successful or not.

While there are many more reasons why you can agree or disagree, a child must first try the sport to establish if there is an interest.  The child must also be supported and encouraged by those they love and look up too.



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