By Gareth Williams
Should kids under 12 years old be dedicated to one sport?
My answer to this question is no.
Children need lots of different activities to improve their athleticism,general knowledge and also their boundaries.
Ive seen it happen many times over the years,”my boy is going to captain Australia” and the kid is 8 years old ,or “He’s going to become the world boxing champion” as the father speaks of his 11 year old boy.Unfortunately the real answer to this is “No he isn’t”.Sure some kids do make it to the top of their sport by parents who choose only one sport only but the majority of successful athletes come from kids who love general sports before making their own decisions as to which sport to major in as they become older.
Let them try gymnastics or dance,let them try football,netball as well as martial arts and help them become an all round athlete with different skills and abilities that can be learned from a number of activities.
Many kids that I’ve come across over my years of coaching (which started as a 15 yr old Gymnastics coach under former Australian Olympian Val Norris),that specialised in one sport have retired early and never reached their peak as an athlete and the main reason was ,the kids were bored of doing the same thing day in day out.
As far as young children go,I believe the aim has to be based at fun with activities that improve agility,balance and coordination rather than being specific in only one area.
As Parents or coaches of 8 year old’s, we don’t need to be thinking we have the future Clive Churchill medallist on the footy field,I read in Brad Fittler’s autobiography that in his first year of Rugby League he was picking daises out of the grass rather than following the ball around. With no pressure to do any different he ended up becoming one of Australia’s best ever Rugby league players.
Yes your kid may have ability in one area but 9 times out of 10 if he or she is only made to do one sport in early childhood the percentage of achieving greatness in that area is very low.
My advise would be to get the kids active and healthy from a young age trying many different things,where they can improve general overall coordination,strength,skills,confidence and Ariel awareness.
To this day all kids between 12 and 17 at TBS only train a maximum of 3 days per week which can enable them to improve in other areas of their lives.One of my Professionals and also Australian amateur 81 kg Champion,Jack Bowen,was playing Afl and Cricket until grade 12 as well as boxing.Jack lost state titles as a youngster and had limited success but as his coordination and skills developed through many different sports he has now become one of Australia’s premier professional prospects and he chose to walk away from the Olympic route when he had beaten every light heavyweight in the country in 2019 as a 23 year old.
The time will come where eventually the children will have to choose which sport to dedicate themselves to so in the early years,just let them enjoy learning and improving in different sports.