Hope you don’t mind a suggestion: From the beginning, even as young as four-years-old, talk the language with your daughter. Whether you are watching sports on TV, shooting some hoops on the driveway, throwing the softball around in the backyard or playing some basement wall soccer, use the terms specific to each sport.
Coaches, instructors and parents alike tend to want to simplify in order to get the point across. Oftentimes, this comes at the expense of furthering the ability of these budding athletes to gain the early understanding that translates into real advantage during the learning process.
Case in point: Watching a T-Ball game a few months back, the parent-coach was admirably explaining to this most precious team that it is not always necessary to hit the ball real hard. Sometimes, he went on to say, you can just “tap the ball or hit it lightly.” A fantastic lesson for sure and impressive that he was even bringing in such strategy. But I was waiting for him to say, “and that is called a bunt.”
Another case in point: a parent knowledgeable in the sport of lacrosse was describing the actions of the players during a televised game. To his 9-year-old he commented that the team on offense was carrying the ball up the field in order to gain position to score. Why did he not introduce the term “cradle?”
Consider those times when you have heard fans, coaches or instructors speak about how a player is talented not only with regard to physical performance but also because she has the “smarts.” There is no question that knowledge/strategy can really contribute to growth in the sport and performance.
So give your young athlete a head start in the “smarts” department nice and early and talk the talk. Chances are she will standout as she executes plays or skills at a more advanced level before the rest.
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