If you are anything like me, once you had your child you immediately began planning their future. The sports they would play, the schools they would attend, ballet, gymnastics, violin. The list goes on and on!
One of my main goals as a mom is to make sure that Peyton stays active and that she is exposed to new and different activities at an early age. My thought process is that if she tries different things early on, it will help her to come to a decision on what she ultimately wants to pursue. Would I love to be able to say 18-20 years from now that I birthed the next Serena Williams? Yes! But, what are some signs that parents can observe early on to determine if their child has natural athletic ability? Well, we sat down with Meg Furstoss, MS, NSCA-CSCS, and Andrew Borsellino, MS, NSCA-CSCS, NASM-PES, founders of Precision Sports Performance to get their take on the topic.
Three signs that demonstrate if your child has a natural sport ability:
Natural speed is an easy and straight forward indicator of a child’s athletic potential. Is your child faster than most other kids their age? How your child moves and runs can be a good indicator of their natural athletic ability. Speed can be developed but natural speed can propel your child to the next level of training and athletics. It’s a pretty good indicator of a child’s athletic potential if they not only appear to be faster than most of their peers but their running mechanics seem to be sound. Are they light on their feet without running on their tippy-toes? Can they run in a straight line with good mechanics? As silly as this may sound, running in a straight line and while keeping good form (good arm mechanics, proper foot placement) is something strength coaches look for during an evaluation.
Landing and jumping mechanics play a large role in athletics. These two components, along with proper body control, are a large part of the foundation in which training programs are created. Can your child jump high and far and land with good body control? For a young child, far can be defined as at least their height in distance. How high your child can jump is all relative to their age. But the results of the vertical and broad jump directly correlate with power output and speed. The higher and farther your child can jump, the faster they are or can be. Proper landing mechanics is an essential part of all strength and conditioning programs. How to land is one of the first things a strength coach teaches. If a child has good landing mechanics it is an indicator of good body control - and good body control helps to decrease risk of injury!
Hand-eye coordination and tracking ability relates to every sport. If we can’t interpret outside factors visually, quickly, and correctly, our brain cannot quickly and correctly send messages to our body to initiate the appropriate response. Does your child have better than decent hand-eye coordination? Having the natural ability to quickly and accurately track movement increases the potential for accurate motor responses. These quicker responses can lead to better performance on the field. Whether you are a swimmer, a soccer player or baseball player depth perception and tracking ability plays a key role in how and when you respond. Having the ability to be able to judge your distance from the pool wall which will initiate your flip turn. Being able to immediately track the ball once it leaves the pitcher’s hand gives you an advantage over your opponent both in competition and when training. When a strength coach initiates vision training into their program it can start off slow as you begin to develop and train the neural patterns for the appropriate response. When an athlete comes in with a natural ability to track and with a greater depth of vision, it allows for less time to be spent developing the baseline foundation.