Well I guess the best place to start with this topic is at the very beginning, and to remember why kids start playing sport in the first place. The main fundamental reason is because the enjoy it and it is a fun thing to do. They aren’t interested in the rules and the formalities of what they’re doing, it is the basic pleasure they gain from doing something that they love that keeps them returning to it again and again.
So then I guess the question has to be asked, as a parent, what should you do if your child gets talent spotted?
The experience I have in this area stems primarily from football but with my coaching background originating in gymnastics, I have experience in this sport too.
The first thing I would recommend is that you keep it all in perspective and be very realistic about being invited to a development centre. Obviously be realistic to your child in a gentle and kind way, try not to let them get carried away with what’s happening and let them believe that it is a long-term thing. It is important to embrace and enjoy the opportunity that’s been offered to them but big Premiership clubs do cast their net far and wide all over the country, so it’s good to keep in mind that what’s happening to your child is also happening to hundreds of others. It’s also important that you as the parent keep everything that’s going on in perspective too. It’s very easy to get carried away with the whole thing, believe you me! The coaches tell you what you want to hear and keep dangling the metaphorical carrot in front of you, that your child has got what it takes. Some friendly advice is to keep your feet firmly on the ground and always remember that they can get rid of you just as quickly as they brought you in, with no real explanation or consideration for how it leaves your child.
The next thing to do is to make sure that your child is coping:
Tell tale signs that there might be a problem is if they are changing their feelings towards the sport or if their enjoyment is waning. You know your child better than anyone. Try not to put your blinkers on and ignore what’s happening, keep the channels of communication open so they feel they can talk to you about how they are feeling. Some kids that are talent spotted just aren’t ready when they’re too young. They struggle to cope with the intensity and the fact that sport stops being fun. You, as a parent, might notice they experience a downturn in form and just aren’t playing the way they used to. These are signs that your child might just not be ready for the intensity of pre-academy, academy and other high level sporting environments. It’s not that they’re not good enough, just that they can’t adjust to the fact that sport’s not all fun any more. As harsh as it sounds it would probably be best to take them out rather than have them drop out of the sport altogether at a later date.
The most important thing is to make sure that your child is happy taking part in the sport they do. Once they stop being happy whilst doing their sport and the enjoyment has gone, I guess the difficult question to ask is: What are they doing it for? If it is for your benefit your best bet is to walk away.
Every child develops at a different rate, their physical ability might be a lot different to their emotional maturity and therefore their ability to cope with that sort of environment. An area that is greatly overlooked by the adults working with them. I feel that sometimes they are treated as mini adults and not the children that they are.
Oh well, I’ll leave it there for today. Hope this has been of some use!