Recently, I talked with a concerned Dad who is worried about his son's basketball performance.
He has been putting in hard work with his son but is not currently seeing the results he hopes for.
We talked in more detail, and he shared an experience his son had a few months ago, where he had played against some tough competition and lost, significantly impacting his son's confidence.
My advice to the father is to be patient. There is always a learning process when our kids leap and level up. We must wait to see the results overnight. Even when they hit a growth spurt, they can sometimes lose sport-specific skills because they are still learning to play in their new body.
When to Evaluate
My general rule of thumb is that if you invest 5-10 hours a week in a sport, it will take at least 6 months to see significant results. It may be sooner for your athlete, or it may take longer. But if it’s taking longer than a year to see results, it may be time to find another program.
Results don’t necessarily mean becoming Lebron or Curry. But a noticeable improvement in their skills and confidence.
In about 3 months, you will often see a slight improvement, but development takes time and is not linear.
Research has shown that youth sports skill development requires patience and consistency. A study by the National Federation of State High School Associations found that young athletes need at least 10 years of consistent training to reach an elite level of performance.
So why are we expecting our 9-year-olds who haven’t been on the planet for 10 years to be elite?
Maybe because you saw an 8-year-old tearing it up on IG? STOP COMPARING!
Enjoy the journey of youth sports. I promise you that if my Mom and Dad could go back in time and watch me suck it up in basketball or baseball, they would do it in a heartbeat. Enjoy your athlete's journey, not the IG kid with 100K followers.
Another study by the American Development Model showed that athletes who specialize in one sport too early could suffer from burnout and experience a plateau in their development.
So what can parents do to be patient and support their athlete's development?
Here are some action steps:
1. Set realistic expectations: Development takes time, and growth is not linear. Put less pressure on your child to perform at a high level immediately.
2. Celebrate small wins: Recognize and celebrate your child's small improvements. It's important to acknowledge progress, no matter how small it may seem.
3. Encourage rest and recovery: Rest and recovery are essential for growth and development. Ensure your child takes breaks and has time to recover between practices and games.
4. Focus on the process, not just the outcome: Encourage your child to enjoy the process of learning and growing rather than just focusing on winning or losing.
Remember, patience is critical when it comes to youth sports skill development. It takes time and consistent effort to see results, but the rewards are ultimately worth it.
It’s like any skill or craft in life. If we can use sports to teach patience in the skill acquisition process, we can help set our athletes up to become lifelong learners and leaders.
It’s all about giving them the best opportunity to make an impact on and off the court.