As I talk with other coaches and friends I know across the country, I have to say that Ohioans have been lucky to be playing the sports that they have been playing.  Our fall sports happened.  Our winter sports are winding down the regular season and looking at the tournament.  And I’m keeping my fingers crossed that spring sports will also happen.

Though that has been high school.

For our younger athletes, some of them haven’t been so lucky.  Seasons shortened or outright cancelled have been happening throughout the state.

And, I’m sure not every state has been allowing sports to happen.  So, if your athlete has been able to get a season in, consider yourself lucky.

Here lies the problem. 

Just like experts have suggested some kids will fall behind academically due to the lack of in-person learning, I feel our kids will fall behind in their athletic development as well.  Missing an entire season of practicing and games is tough to overcome.  Unless, these athletes are really self-disciplined they will fall behind.

Although, I think every athlete will be affected if they miss their season.  The age range I am especially worried about is the 10-14 age group.  This could really put a damper in their development and I’ll tell you why.

The 10-14 age group is the time where athletes are craving stimulus to learn how to be an athlete.  Just like your brain is craving knowledge, your body is craving neural stimulus on how to do multiple athletic movements.

To not challenge that and stimulate it, could be a major setback for these athletes.  Especially with the lack of pickup games and/or going outside on your own to practice these sports, your athlete might take a “gap” year in his/her athletic development that the athlete can NOT afford to take.

What I’ve witnessed since some of these sports have been shut down for extended periods of time:

  • Lack of skill development for the sport.
  • Lack of continual knowledge base about the sport.  Kids literally forgetting the objective of the sport.
  • Lack of desire to play the sport.
  • Lack of activity thus an increase in laziness.
  • Screen time increasing ten-fold.

What can we do about it?

I wish I had a great answer for you, but I don’t.  Doing performance training such as ours helps keep them active and keep the athletic development going.  At least our training will help stimulate athletic awareness and coordination so they will continue to progress that way.

The skill of the sport and love of the game is tough.  Most parents have jobs and can’t dedicate time each night to pitch to their kid or rebound the basketball for him/her.  Maybe once in awhile, but on a consistent basis probably not.

That being said, I think at the very least try to gather some kids and allow them to do pickup games.  Don’t structure it too much, but let them play on their own.  Let them enforce the rules of the game.  I think without parent’s interference it can help foster the understanding of the game better.

I would then try to encourage these kids to do something on their own once or twice a week.  Shoot baskets, hit off a tee, or soccer drills in the lawn.  Get them off those devices.

I’m not saying it will be easy.  My own kid looks at me like I’m sending her to the dungeon asking her to go outside and shoot baskets for 20 minutes.   But this is a key time in their life for motor skill development and muscle memory.  Even if the form and technique is awful, it is better than nothing.

I don’t know when we will get back to normal activity.  It will be somewhere down the line.  But, do what you can to continue the athletic development of your athlete.  Otherwise, you will notice the “gap” year your kid took when playing against other kids who did what they could to avoid their own “gap” year.