Fundamentals: Parents Assisting their Children in the Game of Life
What are fundamentals?
Sports Fundamentals are the basic skills which a player needs in order to succeed in their chosen sport such as the ability to shoot, swing, throw, kick, punch, pass, serve, dribble, rebound, playing defense, setting picks, blocking out, etc. Former National Basketball Association (NBA) player and Coach Isiah Thomas expanded this definition to also include going “beyond the basics” as well as focusing on an individuals “inner game.” The inner game which Thomas describes consists of a number of intangibles such as a player’s “competitive drive, court awareness, willingness to play as a team member, the ability to control one’s emotions, and the skills necessary to channel them productively in a game.”
How can the development of fundamentals help my child?
Sport Psychologist Rick Wolff believes that between the ages of 4-10, it is important for kids to concentrate on “enjoying the game, learn the rules, master the fundamentals, and develop a love for it.” The techniques used in learning sports fundamentals have also been effective in teaching children and adolescents “life skills” wherein they can transfer the skills that they have learned in their chosen sport such as self-confidence, teamwork, motivation, persistence, creative thinking, leadership, concentration, and flexibility into other responsibilities.
As a part-time basketball coach this past summer, I have had the wonderful opportunity to work with 5-7 year olds. I have observed that a general interest in basketball has aided in their desire to perform developmental drills such as handling the basketball, dribbling, shooting, and passing. However, physical limitations such as still being too small to perform certain drills effectively and their short attention span have led me to be creative in disseminating basic basketball skills to them.
One question which I constantly had to keep in mind was, Why did these children engaged in sports in the first place? The reasons according to Psychologist Rick Wolff are quite simple: fun, socialization, new uniforms, and exercise. Parents have also approached me to ask about the progress of their children and given their ages and sizes, it is important to always view their development from a positive perspective as well as communicate to their parents if they have considered: their child’s present ability as well as what their child wants?
At this stage of your child’s development, it is important to expose them to as many sports as possible. There are children who gravitate towards popular sports such as basketball, tennis, or badminton at an early age without any encouragement from their parents. However, there are also those children who need to be constantly supported and encouraged. Attempting different sports such as martial arts (which subsequently can aid in a child’s coordination and discipline), need not be expensive as once your get your child’s desire to participate in sports, a sense of ownership and motivation should ensue and they would be able to take it from there.
Try to inquire about sports programs that are willing to let your child “try” the sport prior to enrollment. This suggestion should ease the financial burden of lost enrollment fees and uniforms should your child lose interest after several sessions. Lastly, also try to get to know who is instructing your child. After all, the coach who will be handling your child will be imparting not only skills but values as well.
*AS SEEN IN THE JULY 2005 ISSUE OF BABY MAGAZINE