Racing Is Its Own Skill Set
The Long Term Athlete Development (LTAD) Model of all Canadian Sport Organizations identify that there is a process to bringing an athlete into competition: athletes need to “Learn to Compete” before they “Train to Compete” before they “Learn to Win”, which comes before any athlete can “Win for a Living”. But before any of that is possible, athletes have to start at the beginning by learning FUNdamentals, then progressing to “Learning to Training” and finally “Training to Train”.
Yet the process identified by which children, tweens, and teens develop and mature into athletes capable of winning and doing so consistently is typically short-cut, with athletes encouraged to ‘beat’ competitors or to ‘race’ for qualifying times/positions, and sometimes even to race for the podium well before they have learnt simply to execute the sport with proper technique (i.e. FUNdamentals).
As with anything, short cut the process and the result is inevitable: children, tween, and teens burn-out, blow-out or simply max-out with injury, illness, frustration, disappointment, eventually hating the sport they once loved and do so long before they reach their potential, long before they reach their physiological and psychological peaks (18-24yrs).
There are no short cuts in the process to success. As much as coaches, parents & teachers may want success for a child to happen quickly and easily; children, tweens and teens cannot be ‘forced’ into succeeding at a pace other than their own.
The ‘adultification’ of sport has resulted in the Long Term Athlete Development (LTAD) model being abandoned so children can be pushed into competition prematurely. The explanation/excuse given is that parents want to see ‘results’, yet its coaches who fail their athletes by failing to withhold them from competition until they are ready.
Athletes need to have the technique, the skills, the tactics & the strategies to successfully participate in events. When athletes are equipped to compete they focus on learning from competing, not trying to ‘beat’ competitors, they focus on improving from prior competitions and come to understand the true meaning of success. Once a child learns the success process, that’s how and when they truly become unbeatable… in sport and in life and that’s the real value and purpose of sport.