Maturation in Sport- Are We Setting Our Kids Up to Fail?


Ever wondered why your child looks overpowered, slower, or lacks the ability to hit the mark with ball sports?


Here’s the thing- gaining a better understanding of the maturation process and how it is likely to impact on your child’s success in sport is crucial. This may even support you decision to choose particular sports down the track (watch this space- blog post coming soon!).


The best, most realistic supported evidence I can provide for you is the Youth Physical Development Model below (Oliver et al.). While it may look complicated, it’s super easy to interpret.


So easy in fact, you’ll be a wizard panning over a sneaky coffee awaiting the start of your regular Saturday morning fixture.


Basically, the larger the font and more prominent coloured region the greater emphasis on this particular physiological parameter.. there you go easy! They have even separated boys from girls for you…



(Early-Middle Childhood)


For a large part, particularly up until 7-8yrs of age, this is an exciting time in your child’s sporting endeavours… because boys and girls are relatively equal. Well from a physiological perspective- aside from the obvious! It is during this time they are likely to benefit from plenty of ‘unstructured play’ , and sports that encourage them to move/explore their limbs in surrounding environments. What better sports than gymnastics, and or ball sports.


(Middle Childhood)


It’s towards the back end of this time that girls will start to demonstrate their superiority over boys (shhhh but don’t tell the lads at the pub I said that!). No, seriously. This should be celebrated as it shows how girls are likely to supercede boys and in instances can certainly outshine them. It’s during 5-11yrs and 5-9yrs for boys and girls respectively, that moderately structured games/sport participation serves your child well. The ability to understand rules and evvvventually listening to the coaches sideline antics. This is a fantastic time to also encourage your daughter to play contact sport! I know, strange concept you might think- bullsh*%t I say! Get amongst it. In most instances with respect to size they’re relatively equal. In instances girls are larger than boys.


… and no I’m not referring to the silverback who’s parents have conveniently forgotten their child’s birth certificate and awaiting the new one soon to be cut out of from the back of a box of Coco-Pops.


(Adolescence)


You know- that fun time like no other when you knew you were destined to be a parent (cough-cough). In understanding this specifically once you grasp what ‘Peak Height Velocity’ is and its implications not only will you further support than criticise your child but it could even save you money! In majority of instances girls achieve this earlier than boys- hence the main difference from hereon through (11-13yrs, 13-15yrs respectively).


… Basically, during these specific age ranges it’s a time when you should support your child getting smoked on the outside being left looking like they’re stuck in mud. Or perhaps being towered over in netball unable to shoot without it being intercepted by an opposing player looking more like Serena Williams than sweet little Sally from next door.


*Note- 14yrs/12yrs for boys and girls respectively (model provided) is an extended period referred to as ‘Hypertrophy’. In short this is hormonally the best time for your child to adapt to resistance training and the likes of…

WAIT! Don’t stop reading now with the ‘my child’s not going to lift any weights!’


It is here the intricacies of rules and specific playing positions can further be cemented with high structured organisation. Understanding of various sports and their role within it is further enhanced.


(Late Adolescence to Adulthood)


You’ll note it’s here the exciting times lie. Increases in strength, power, and endurance all continue to provide a window of opportunity to excel. Hence the excitement of sport during this age range. Where your child grows into their body and perhaps begins to match it with the previous Coco-Pops birth certificate child come adult!


Sport is an exciting continuum, and your child’s participation in it should be just that… A journey of interpretation you as a parent now have the knowledge to support and encourage their participation and discovery throughout.


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