The importance of variety for long-term athletic development
With that in mind, Parnham explains how the early stages of sport should be about participation. Obviously, physical activity, including organised sport, is crucial to children’s health and physical development. And it’s not just about participating in one sport – providing a tapas-like range of different sports builds a stronger base of physical literacy. And who doesn’t like tapas?
“If you’re a parent listening to this, you’ll want your child to sample a range of different sports, and that can be ball sports through to endurance sports like swimming and other sports like gymnastics,” Parnham said.
Ironically, parents who push their kids to perform in one sport might be doing more bad than good. It’s becoming widely accepted that long-term athletic development favours multiple sport participation, with increasing numbers of elite athletes sampling a range of sports in their younger years.
“A lot of later or long-term success comes from athletes who have dabbled and played a variety of different sports,” Parnham said.