If you check out any early years class doing a physical education lesson there are one or two children who stand out as being more talented than their peers.  These children move better due to superior balance and coordination.  They also master new sports skills and movement patterns more quickly than their peers.  They are the talented athletes or the ‘sporty ones’.  More often than not these talented young sports performers will be enrolled in local sports clubs.  They spend a lot more time being physical than the average young person.   The school may even identify them as being ‘Gifted and Talented’ for physical activity.  What causes them to be so physically advanced?  What challenges do they face as they progress through their sporting age groups?  How can they combat these challenges to remain a talented young sports performer?


It’s all in the practice

It is very rare that talented young sports performers could be considered genuinely ‘gifted’ at a particular sport.  More often than not the advanced young athletes are the product of practice.  Whether formally or informally through play, they have accumulated many more hours of physical activity than their peers.  As a result of this practice they outshine the competition.  When placed against a typical peer group, physical activity and sports skills come more easily.  The talented young sports performer finds success easy in this environment.  However, the reality is that they’ve simply had a head start!  Proactive parents and siblings create a rich physical learning environment to give young athletes a flying start on the rest of the age group.


The danger of being a sporty parent

Parents who encourage physical activity and sport in children do a great job.  This is a fact!  Having been one of these parents I have instilled a love and passion for physical activity in all three of my children.  Each child has a healthy love of sport, and not surprisingly, is doing very well in school sports.  All three could be considered talented young sports performers.  They are talented, but non of them is gifted.  They simply get way more practice than the competition.  This so called sports talent can create issues as they have become older.   These issues centre around confidence and how they attribute their sporting success.

More often than not, the superior physical prowess of the sporty child means that they find generic school PE relatively easy.  Tasks set out by the National Curriculum are achieved very easily versus those children who have less practice.  The talented young sports performer will may perceive that they have a natural ability.  They do not make the connection with the hours of practice outside of school.  Sporty youngsters may fail to make the connection between practice and performance.  The belief is that talent is given rather than developed.


Pitfalls for talented young sports performers

As children progress through adolescents the physical and skill aspects of sport evolve.  Children who demonstrate advanced performance during early years may be outperformed as their peers ‘catch up’.  Children with a growth mindset value the importance of practice and it’s impact upon performance.  Early talented young sports performers can attribute their lack of dominance to a lack of natural ability.  Disillusioned, young people can drop out of sport all together.  Parents and coaches must work hard to ensure that talented young sports performers see the link between practice and performance level.  As the saying goes:

‘Hard work always beats Talent when Talent doesn’t work hard’.

NK provide age appropriate and cutting edge fitness and conditioning support to young people and junior sports performers.