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Dave Paton 02-28-2008 07:10 AM

sport selection with kids (off topic)
This is kind of a weird topic. i was wondering if anyone knew where more info could be found:

I was reading an article recently on how the USSR did studies where they found that kids specializing in sports at an early age would peak at around 15 years old in the specialized sport and usually burn out on the sport at around 17-20 years old. there are exceptions to this, but they are exceptions to the norm. what the USSR did was have kids participate in basically just a PE class sports setting where the kids would play dodge ball, play tag and various other gym games until they are between 10-12 years old. the coaches or experts would then watch these classes and choose kids based on body composition, GPP, and general skill set and ask them to then specialize in a particular sport that they would probably be most successful in. so if a kid had long limbs and not much explosiveness, he wouldn't be put in a weightlifiting track, he would be encouraged to run distances. A kid with a long torso, long arms, and short legs might be encouraged to swim. a tall kid would be put on a volleyball or basketball route. etc etc.

Where I am going with this is I think this is a great way to develop athletes albeit very communist. i would've loved someone to tell me, hey, you really shouldn't be playing basketball. why don't you try wrestling, fencing, tennis or whatever. So i was thinking about myself and others and wondering if anyone knew where info could be found on what types of body composition are compatible to specific sports or anymore info on these types of studies?

I also realize that a lot of people say that kids should play sports that they are interested in. so, who cares if a 5'3, 110 lb freshman wants to play basketball? well, i am just thinking about myself and playing the "what if" game. I was a very good baseball player (pitcher) who specialized only in baseball my entire life and I did exactly what the study suggested. I peaked at 15 and totally burned out at 17. I haven't even thrown a baseball in 13 years. however, i took tennis lessons last year at age 28 and guess what? My "live" arm translated very well to the tennis court and i started almost instantly beating people who had been playing for a long time. What if someone had suggested tennis when i was 10 years old?

sorry for this long and not well organized post. i was just wondering what others think....

John Alston 02-28-2008 07:24 AM

I think kids should play everything. Compete at least some (see the certain Istitute rant site for a good read on why real competition is good for kids) but the mix is great.
I played the classic american 3 before dropping them in high school, but loved the best days, pee wee football, playing hard, hitting, running all night... and ended up still competing further, though, with a college ultimate team that went to collegiate nationals, then boxing, winning a novice golden gloves, and now weightlifting. I played for some great coaches, and some bad ones. I'm sure you did, too.
But I'm not sure of your post - are you having a "If only I had played tennis younger, I'd a been a contender or champion!" moment? Well, get over that if you are, and love the sport now, and be glad you're fresh to it.
In the end pro sports will reject 99.9% of the people in the world for lacking the talent, drive and luck to make it, so realistically, I think we should approach sports for their other benefits - learning, fitness, social development, teamwork, character building, social interaction, and a love of the physical.
So you're about 30 now? Love it man. Tennis is fun! Play as hard as you want. Be glad you're able to play now, and didn't get burned out on it like you did with baseball.

Mike ODonnell 02-28-2008 07:50 AM

I know a guy who played for the Red Army Russian hockey team as a kid....probably did drills 4hours a day since he was 10....lived in baracks....is amazingly good....got a full ride to Michigan...played minors....now works 9-5 and plays men's league....skates on the same ice with me and drinks from the same pitcher off the bar....all be it he does score alot more than I do nowadays....I'll take my childhood years of having fun playing all different kinds of sports. Skill is one thing....forced skill is another....if you don't love what you do, why bother?

Funny part is I think he likes playing tennis now more than hockey....

Dave Paton 02-28-2008 08:16 AM


No, not a "could've been" rant...i did not mean it to come out like that. I am more interested in body types and sports that would be compatible, or maybe more importantly, not compatible.

John Alston 02-28-2008 08:22 AM


Originally Posted by Dave Paton (Post 26952)

No, not a "could've been" rant...i did not mean it to come out like that. I am more interested in body types and sports that would be compatible, or maybe more importantly, not compatible.

Cool, was hard to tell.
Yeah, body types, all that. I hear ya. Like football and basketball - incompatible for most types, let alone abilities.

Gittit Shwartz 02-28-2008 12:31 PM

I'm a Capoeira teacher (at Ido Portal's place, Hacasa). I started coaching the youngest kids there (ages 3-9) two years ago.
The kids call it "Capoeira" but my goal is pretty much what you described up there: to give them a broad base of athleticism, coordination, and confidence without specializing in anything, until they are old enough to choose their sport. I feel gymnastics gives a good base and it is always mixed with basic ball games, baby-Capoeira (as much partner interaction for as little technique as possible), percussion, "parkour" leaps, circus stuff... Occasionally I take them out to the park to walk on the slack line.
I have a 5-year-old who has been coming to my classes since I got started. A little while ago he was bouncing on a springy mattress and called out, "Gittit, look at me, I'm doing a salto (back tuck)!" and he did a back handspring. It was a little to one side but he had never learned to - he just decided to jump backwards onto his hands, and he did. He is years ahead of the others in some things. I'm awfully proud of this tyke and like to think I had something to do with this :cool:
That's it, I don't have anything scientific to contribute, I'm learning a lot now experimenting on the kids.

Allen Yeh 02-29-2008 02:38 AM


Originally Posted by Gittit Shwartz (Post 26964)
I'm learning a lot now experimenting on the kids.

I know I'd love it if a teacher of my child said this about him....haha :p

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