Luke Brosterhous: Encourage long-term athletic development
It is important to recognize the significant contribution that events like the Ski Haus Run/Nordic Series, Town Challenge and Steamboat Running Series make to this community. These low-cost, family-centered events, contribute to the intricate fabric that insulates our community. We should applaud Ski Haus, its owners and employees, the city of Steamboat Springs , the Running Series folks and the community of coaches for contributing their time and effort.
Most are familiar with the costs of travel and specialization as it relates to youth development in sports. Yet, we rarely discuss the ancillary costs that the athlete and the families endure, especially when we engage in high level training or competition before the age of 14.
Research suggests that this approach, and early-specialization in particular, simply does not work. In fact, long-term athletic development (LTAD) research suggests that having a long view on athletic development is the hallmark of athletes that have continued athletic success later into life. This approach is rooted in a variety of self-directed, self-referenced activities, encourages athletic literacy through multiple sports, proper kinesthetic sequential movement patterns — which only a broad sampling of sports offer — deliberate seasonal transition and, perhaps most importantly, conscious breaks in the intervals of seasonal sport.
Competition on its own is fantastic. The competitive environment will always be there. However, each young athlete and their parents must have the courage to think critically about competition and work to develop a healthy relationship with it. The research tells us that there is need for keeping it diverse and low key, especially before the age of 14.
Missing a travel race or tournament isn’t going to keep your child from greatness. In fact, it might actually bolster their chances.
Strap on your skis or shoes and take Ski Haus up on one of their low-cost opportunities to struggle for the sake of struggling; you might get first or you might get last. Either way, you’ll have a chance to strengthen familial and communal bonds, build diversity in your child’s athletic literacy and show them that competition is not all about a result sheet. If that’s not enough, there’s usually coffee, hot chocolate and donuts — so, at minimum, you’ll get a breakfast of champions when you’re done.
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