When children have fun, they learn. When children learn, they improve. When children improve, they enjoy success. When children enjoy success, they gain confidence. When children are confident, well… what more would you want as a parent than a child who is thriving as a result of enjoying themselves, learning, improving, succeeding, a child who is gaining confidence in their potential?
The ‘adultification’ of organized youth sport – as in the pursuit of results, times, peak performance & podiums – before all else is ruining sport for children.
Performance – as in healthy performance – arises only as a result of children being encouraged to play, to have fun, to learn how to move, how to control their body, hence the thoughts their brains create.
Why is the focus at jTOEST first and foremost fun, with everything else second?
When children are comfortable, when they are encouraged to play, to experiment, to have fun, they make incredible gains. Its when success, results, performance are placed as initial and immediate expectations that problems arise.
The ‘adultification’ of swimming has resulted in Swimming Canada’s own Long Term Athlete Development (LTAD) model being abandoned in order that children are pushed immediately into competition. The explanation or excuse given is that parents want to see ‘results’, coaches don’t have the spine to say no, allowing head coaches and clubs to monetize parents need to compare their children with others (i.e. see if your kids are better than the Joneses).
As a result, children are consistently overwhelmed with performance expectations before they have even achieved simple mastery of any swimming skill set. The outcome… children quit or ‘retire’ from swimming years before they come close to their peak physiological and psychological years (i.e. 18-24).
This is why TOEST is not affiliated with Swim Ontario as it fails to see the value that the current model of coaching supported by Swim Ontario and Swimming Canada has for Canadian children. Swimming is supposed to provide children the opportunity to gain skills, develop capacity, learn technique, not leave them scarred with performance anxiety, post performance depression, hating (what they were taught it means to) train, hating competition, in general… coming to hate sport and what it has represented in their lives.
At jTOEST… needs of children come first, those of adults second.