Few Parents go back to Richard Williams, who began shepherding his daughters Venus and Serena for the glory of Wimbledon by writing an 85-page plan and training them every morning at the public tennis court in Compton, Los Angeles, before starting school. For all of us, mothers and fathers can still play an important role in nurturing a love of sports and exercise in their children from an early age.
Claire-Marie Roberts, head of psychology and coaching development at the Premier League, says: “Parents play a very fundamental role in introducing children to sports with their encouragement behind their diligence and progress. All children benefit physically, emotionally and socially from being active, so they Here’s how to run it.
Start ASAP, but focus on the fun
“Getting kids involved in activities as soon as possible establishes a pattern … you can’t start too fast,” says Roberts. For babies, go to the park, pool or soft play center and root it for fun. Greg Rutherford, a former Olympian long jumper and father of two, agrees: “Throwing and catching is good for developing hand-eye coordination, and we make silly games, like pulling out pots and pans and trying to throw balls at them. Gives a healthy relationship with fitness. ”
Make sports a normal part of life Life
Roberts also suggests keeping children active in daily life: “The buggy is the most appropriate way to transport a child from A to B, but if you make time to walk or scoot, you will all benefit.” When they get older, if they want to see their friends, they don’t think about cycling. This was born out of research published in the journal Sports, which found that physical activity in early childhood was positively related to physical fitness in adolescence.
Focus on praise instead of improvement
“Praise is important,” says Roberts. Even now, England footballer and former captain Steve Houghton says “it takes a little praise to appreciate the commitment and speed I have given”.
It’s also about focusing on “giving them energy and a willingness to learn,” says Roberts. Chris Hoy, a former Olympic cyclist and father of two, agrees: “He lost in my son’s first taekwondo competition, but he’s still incredibly proud of what he did. We tell him, ‘Don’t worry about others. You weren’t good that day, but you’re better than a week ago, and you’re having fun. ‘”
Elementary school age
Try as many different games as you can
Now is the time to expose the kids to as many activities as you can. That’s what Rutherford and Houghton all experienced. “My parents wanted me to try different things for different reasons,” says Houghton. “So taekwondo was about discipline and respect; football was about being competitive and working as a team. Through exposure, kids will find something they enjoy – and stick to it.
It is not enough to sign them up and leave them. If parents are actively involved, it “sets positive behavior examples, so exercise becomes normal in that family,” says Roberts. This was the case with the family of swimmer Rebecca Edlington. “We were an active family – always out and on weekends,” she says. “That lifestyle definitely had a big impact on me.”
When Rutherford was growing up, his father “worked long hours as a builder, but he always played football with me – it was our chance to connect.” Former British tennis number 1 Johanna Conta has fond memories of going to the morning race with her father. “We will run to the top of this golf course on the edge of the cliff in time for the sunrise. It left a big impression.”
Roberts emphasizes that both parents are involved: “Unfortunately, in normal heterosexual family units, it is usually the man who will play the role-model and exercise. It is really important that both parents do the same.”
Make it a treat, not an action
As adults, we have an easy time thinking Is Exercise, but change your language and cycle or do a 10 minute cape-up treat. “The game was a reward,” Hoy says. “If my grades were good, I could go on the BMX track. If the kid doesn’t enjoy the sport, keep trying; just get out walking, or on the bike, or jump on the trampoline – you’ll never see anyone get lost on the trampoline.”
Roberts suggests integrating activity into daily life: “Do not make it a bell ringing; It’s a treatment, a means to an end, or a way to socialize. “
Find their passion, not yours
“Parents often use their children as outlets for dreams they haven’t achieved,” says Roberts. “But the baby’s voice needs to be heard.” Rutherford agrees: “If my kids want to try athletics in the future, I’ll encourage them, but I’m not going to force them because I like them.” Edlington broke the world record in a game in which her parents were not interested.
Hoy advises your kids to talk about what they enjoy “and then fan them in that direction, because they’ll get more excitement from it”. He recalls “The kids were drawn all over the country for the race, and they leave when they are old enough to make their own decisions. The biggest reason I still ride a bike is that I never lost my love for it.
Help them overcome frustrations
Sports are often more competitive for this age group, and a bad experience can keep a child away. For Roberts, the idea is to identify positively, focusing on effort and improvement.
For Hoy, the drive home used to turn things around. “I would have been quiet and angry if the competition hadn’t been good, but my father never forced the issue. He would wait until I started talking and ask, ‘Why do you think this happened?’ … After a short conversation with my father, I never felt frustrated. “Adlington’s parents took a similar approach:” I would be angry or calm, but my parents would give me a place and talk to me when I was ready. ”
“Encouraging kids to reflect and explain that everyone experiences frustrations – including the most successful athletes,” says Roberts. Rutherford agrees: “I had a lot worse days than good ones.”
Research by the Women in Sport Charity has found that 43% of girls who once considered themselves sports are separated from sports at the middle school age. Body changes, hormonal breakouts and menstruation are still a major problem for girls.
Adlington recalls being self-conscious as a teenager: “I was much heavier than the other girls. I also suffered from scars, so it wasn’t always easy.” She won it by focusing on what her body could do rather than what it looked like: “Swimming gave me confidence because I was good at it.”
Conta suggests that it is important to normalize the inconvenience and to “feel self-earned – everyone is going through it – but it is important to explain that it is not permanent.”
When it comes to menstruation, Roberts recommends talking about it. Conta says she used to wear black shirts when she was menstruating, but in her mid-20s she changed her mind: “I think if you bleed while wearing white, so be it.”
For boys, a common issue is a different rate of development. Hoy remembers playing rugby against a kid at the age of 14 “who was 6ft 2in with a mustache, so I was physically being hammered.” Experience taught him a lesson: “Everyone develops at a different rate. You may feel like you’re going backwards, but when everyone walks 18 or 19 it goes out of level. “
Let them be teenagers
It’s hard to be a teenager, so cut them a little slower. “When we don’t let them go to parties because of training, we insult them,” says Roberts. Houghton agrees: “It’s important to have normal teen experiences.” But, she says, “If you really want to do something well, you have to make sacrifices. My parents saw that I needed a spell where I was growing up and could learn who I am. There was no way I was going to get out! If I had tried to make those decisions without them, I probably wouldn’t have been as successful as I was. It’s about balance. “
Leave them alone if they want to
“At this age, their growing autonomy is really important,” says Roberts, so accept it if your child wants to stop certain games. At the age of 14, Hoy told his father that he no longer enjoyed BMX: “He said it was okay. I told him I wanted to try mountain biking, so we rented a bike together. He could push me and that would be enough for me to never ride a bike again.
Houghton was also allowed to leave the game: “I didn’t have the same drive for Taekwondo, so I told my mom and dad that I wanted to focus on football. I gave everything I could, and they respected it.