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Toddlers and Long Term Athletic And Mental Development: Part 2

"Winning and losing is an outcome measure that is seen as a success story, but at early stages of development it's a crushing blow to creativity and expression." - Carl Valle

Of late, sports and coaches are starting to apply long term development models to train athletes in sports, and to teach kids how to be active for life. One aspect that sports programs and coaches have not considered is the social development of athletes, the mental skills.


Athletic and Social Development: Part 2 Competence Building takes place between ages 6-12.

Socially, this is the time when kids are receiving a formal education. As a result, they are learning more specific knowledge and skills. Athletically, kids are also learning and acquiring more specialized skills specific to certain sports.

During this time, kids best learn by doing vs learning skills through drills. The reason being, they are still acquiring the foundational PHYSICAL and TECHNICAL skills relevant for sports. Because everything is still new, athletes can see daily and weekly improvements. That’s why it’s the best time for athletes to learn and try.

As parents, coaches, educators, and adults, it’s important to keep it fun, active, creative, and engaging. The more fun it is, the more willing young athletes will be to learn, try, and to challenge their personal comfort zones.

This stage is also a time when athletes learn to interact and develop relationships with others outside of parents and family. Peer relationships being the most critical. This is an area where adults can help by encouraging kids to build positive relationships, manage conflict, and learn coping skills, as it relates to their interactions with others.

In the end, if athletes can find pleasure and curiosity in being productive at this stage, their confidence will continue to grow because their competence is cultivated.

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