I do not know how other people tackle this so I can only write from our perspective. Even before Nathan and Nathalie were born we were thinking about what hobbies they might have later on and what sports they might be interested in/ being forced to do by us. Might sound a bit harsh but then again all athletes I know who managed to reach certain levels were the ones who were pushed by their parents during their “difficult years”. All others who could choose for themselves quit their sports latest by the age of 15. Now I do not have any ambitions like that as I want to see for now how Nathan will develop and what his interests are as we are trying to give him broader choice of sports compared to ourselves.
My wife did some sports as a kid in form of table tennis for a couple of years and ballet. Both sports she had to quit as her wonderful mom didn’t see any value in sport activities and instead put her into afterschool programs till evening. Ever since I can remember I was swimming in a club. I started when I was around five and continued till my twenties. I clearly remember when I had no motivation anymore around the age of 13-14 as I did not really improve anymore and my father basically dragged me to each training session by driving behind me in his car to make sure that I actually went to the pool. By the age of 15 I got more than enough motivation to continue as I got suddenly better and better and wanted to push myself as far as possible. During my “prime” I had 21 trainings sessions a week of which were 11 times swimming from Monday will Saturday and 10 dryland sessions (gym, running and even yoga). This resulted each day in over 5 hours of sports and this all while still being a high school students going to class from 7am till 3pm.
Right now our little Nathan is four years old and is doing once a week Taekwondo. He loves it thus far and is asking us several times a week when the next class is. I actually got the idea for Taekwondo due to my best friend who was in the very same club back in the day and did the sport till he reach the first Dan (first black belt level). I also wanted to try out the sport when I was eight years old but somehow did not dare to really join them as I was a very very shy little boy back then who easily got scared by new things. Nathan is completely different and he joined the other kids in an instant. We will also register him at my old swimming club but for that we have to wait till he is six years old (weird regulations here in Germany I must say). It is actually already 100% sure that he will at least do some swimming in the club, afterall we/ I decided on his name due to the very famous Nathan Adrian!
So why am I writing about this? When I was talking with Nathan’s coach she told us that for the past years less and less kids are continuing the sport once they finished elementary school. Usually the kids have multiple sports/ other activities each week and can’t focus on any properly which results that barely any athlete in the club is performing on any higher level, not even reaching the State Championships. The last one who managed it to even European Championship level was their daughter (both parents are coaching at the club and her husband has even 7th Dan!). So growing up with such parents a kid has the best possibilities to reach something in the sport or sadly they might also crumble under the pressure.
All friends we have with kids do not want their children to do any sports. In their opinion sports are a waste of time and the kids will only get hurt. I on the other hand believe that a sort of competition in young years is useful for the child in order to grow. Here in Germany is even a discussion still going on to remove sports competition from schools as some kids will feel left out and even to remove grades in PE.
Were you doing sports when you were young?
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