Nurturing Early Succeeders

“Prepare the child for the path, not the path for the child”

 

One of our most important roles as coaches of young athletes is to educate parents. Quite simply a parents role in their childs athletic development to;
We truly believe parental support can play a huge role in the success/limiting of success of a young young athlete.
We are therefore putting together a few posts in the coming weeks to help parents understand a young athletes development. 
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Be aware of early Succeeders.
 So this brings us onto an important topic – the development of ‘Early Succeeders’.
To be put simply, an early succeeder is a young athlete who shows great potential at a young age. They could be a stand out player in their team or excel at their chosen sport against players of the same age.
Early succeeders are then highlighted and can be put under a spotlight at this young age. Coaches and parents latch onto this and think they have the next Raheem Sterling (football reference sorry) right in front of them. 
This can lead to a child specialising in a sport to early, in fact research undertaken in a Canadian study showed an 82% drop out rate in three years in young athletes identified ‘early succeeders’. Primary reasons for this were – parental pressure and burn out.
The sad reality is early succeeders often set parents up for failure by creating an unrealistic expectation.
Early succeeders have a tendency to have their growth spurts earlier than other young athletes. Therefore their greater stature and physical capabilities can partly  be the reason they are actually ahead of other young people.
As coaches and parents we need to nurture this talent not push it to burn out. We as a weightlifting club have encountered a few early succeeders and ensure we take a balanced approach to how we work with them. 
We aren’t interested in decorated youth athletes who will then never make it to senior level. 

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Here are some of the things we look to implement with early succeeders (and pretty much everyone else).
  1.  We encourage our young guys to play lots of different sports. Specialising early can ruin a young athlete reaching their potential. Very few sports specialise before 16-18 (diving, gymnastics and swimming are a few examples of exceptions). Skills form other sports will always transfer over so it may actually aid an athletes development. 
2. Keep training fun. We play things like dodgeball and other games to keep our guys engaged and having fun. It takes up 15 minutes training time but keeps them coming back week after week to train so its 100% worth it! If training isn’t fun it will not be sustained.
3 – We let our young guys have a say in their training. If they are feeling like they have an input and some choice (within reason) then they are much more invested and therefore engaged in our sessions. 
4- Their further interest into more specific or serious training should come from their passion (not ours). We never force anyone to compete in weightlifting. We want our young guys to want to pursue the sport through a love and enjoyment of it. We coach them, expose them to it slowly and some go onto compete, some participate just to get stronger and for enjoyment.  Both are great!

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