The world of youth sport is becoming more specialised.
In a race to develop ‘expert performers’, sport-specific environments are being prioritised at younger and younger ages.
But here’s the thing.
True skill (i.e., the type that enables free-thinking, adaptable and physically resilience athletes) is not about performing a small number of specific skills precisely. Instead, it’s the ability to satisfy a wide range of demands imposed by a rapidly changing sporting context.
Take, for example, the way a basketballer evades her opponent with the perfectly timed dodge to make the shot. Or how a footballer accelerates from an unstable position to be in the right position to take the pass. The challenge is never the same.
To train for such demands (and avoid getting hurt in the process), athletes need range. A range of movement experiences they can draw on to quickly and effectively solve the next problem in front of them.
Kids used to get range growing up in the backyard. Climbing trees, jumping fences, swinging from a jungle gym.
They also got it from playing a lot of informal games and sports.
But times have changed.
For many, the backyard is gone. And specific, structured environments are becoming the norm.
Where do we find range?