Were excited to have a guest post from the European Football Academy who regularly use facilities at Marlborough Primary School.
This post has been written by Coach Jason St Clair Newman, Head of Physical Preparation at the European Football Academy.
At the European Football Academy, we love football – FACT
Considering the statement what you read in the following article may seem a little counter intuitive and strange for us to be recommending.
One of our goals as an Academy is to teach players how to use their bodies and educate them to be healthier in a variety of ways not only through football, but in a variety of ways…WHY?
- Multiple sports build better all-round skills
- Kids don’t need to specialise until later on age (15+) unless they are aiming for age dominated sports such as the Olympic events of diving and gymnastics for example.
- Multiple sports early on will cross over to football.
As an Academy, we love the kids doing well across all of their chosen sports and activities. As a coaching team, we encourage them to experience many different sports, especially with our younger players under the age of 12.
It is well researched (2) that kids who play many different sports and experience a wide range of movement patterns associated with them, develop useful skills, techniques and decision-making abilities that can cross over to other sports now and when they reach an age in which they may begin to specialise in a single sport. (1,5)
We believe children can be encouraged to not only play their favourite sport regularly but have the chance to experience other team sports, which is not only fun but can be of a great help in potentially combating the problem of overuse injuries where over specialisation in one type of repetitive movement can lead to injury. (2,4)
Briefly… when is specialisation generally encouraged?
Research has pointed towards youth players beginning to whittle down the amount of different types of sports they play at around ages 13-15 and then begin to specialise in their chosen sport around age 16 (3).
However, this doesn’t always mean they stop playing other sports completely, they generally are just more focused on the one sport as their priority and dedicate more training and time to its mastery. Elite level competitors though will put in the time and effort to learn and a much larger rate than those who do not.
Research has suggested that specialisation in a sport where sport specific training begins to take priority is to be encouraged around the age of 15-16 years old. (3)
Experiencing different environments where the body is stimulated outside of their favourite sports can also help (2)
- prevent boredom;
- maintain motivation;
- increase enjoyment;
- avoid overuse injuries;
- and increase social skills.
So, what are key sports to look for that could help?
Sports or activities that involve;
- catching and;
are all great movements and fundamental patterns of movement that should be encouraged and have the potential to cross over to a player’s ability to be successful now, and in their future chosen sport.
This takes us back to my original statement-
“We love football, and to be a better footballer (or any sport for that matter) having a wide range of exposure to many different sports early on, can give a child a step up on the playing fields and in life!”
– Coach Jason St Clair Newman, Head of Physical Preparation at the European Football Academy.
A very interesting piece from Jason on his thoughts of getting children involved with all sports and enjoying it as both a skill and social time. To find out more about the European Football Academy you can head to their website:
To find out more about Marlborough Academy have a look here. If your interested in the space or have any questions please don’t hesitate to get in touch.
0345 222 2323 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Link to original Article
- Baker, J., Cote, J., & Abernethy, B. (2003). Sport-specific practice and the development of expert decision-making in team ball sports. Journal of applied sport psychology, 15(1), 12-25.
- Baker, J. (2003). Early specialization in youth sport: A requirement for adult expertise?. High ability studies, 14(1), 85-94.
- CôTé, J. E. A. N., Lidor, R., & Hackfort, D. (2009). ISSP position stand: To sample or to specialize? Seven postulates about youth sport activities that lead to continued participation and elite performance. International Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology, 7(1), 7-17.
- Malina, R. M. (2010). Early sport specialization: roots, effectiveness, risks. Current sports medicine reports, 9(6), 364-371.
- Naclerio Ayllón, F. J., Radler, T., Kang, J., Myer, G. D., Fabiano, M., Faigenbaum, A. D., … & Farrell, A. (2011). Effects of Integrative Neuromuscular Training on Fitness Performance in Children.