Letting Children Develop At Their Own Pace

At the 2018 Winter Olympics, Norwegian athletes (both female & male) stood on the podium more times than any other nation. How did a nation with a tiny population (5million) dominate in so many sports? Norwegians took home medals in: alpine, x-country and freestyle skiing, ski jumping, biathlon, speed skating, and even curling. Now consider that Norway sent just 109 athletes to PyeongChang; that’s a team with less than half of America’s Olympic workforce yet won almost twice the number of medals.

The success of Norwegian athletes is not limited to winter sports. Norwegian athletes can be found equally dominating in summer sports: Kartsen Warholm is the current Olympic and World Champion in the 400m hurdles, the three Ingebrigtsen brothers (Jakob, Filip, & Henrik) are dominant competitors at Diamond League and World level track events ranging from the 1,500 to the 5,000m. Edvald Boasson Hagen, Alexander Kristoff and Thor Hushovd are all UCI WorldTour level cyclists each with stage wins at the Tour de France. And lets not forget about the sport of triathlon… Kristian Blummenfelt is the reigning Olympic triathlon Champ and Ironman Champ and Gustav Iden is the 70.3 Ironman 2019 World Champion.

How is the tiny nation of Norway producing consistently athletes who dominant not only in one sport, but across multiple winter and summer sports?

“In Norway, organized youth sports teams cannot keep score until they are 13 years of age. Tore Ovrebo, the director of elite sport for the Olympiatoppen, an organization of scientists, trainers and nutritionists who work with Olympic athletes across Norway’s sports federations explains: in Norway, we want kids to be left alone to develop, because they learn a lot from playing, they learn a lot from not being anxious, from not being judged, measured or scored. They feel better, and they tend to stay on for longer.” [1]

If a child is ever to experience their potential in sport, they need to stick in the sport long enough for that to be possible. Short cut the development process by forcing a performance spike is possible, but that spike comes with a long term consequence: these athletes typically fail to fully develop to their fullest.

Early Specialization Leads to Early Departure (from Sport)

The ‘adultification’ of organized youth sport – as in the pursuit of results, times, peak performance & podiums – before all else is ruining sport for children. When children are encouraged to play, to have fun, they make incredible gains because they are in a growth mindset which allows them to acquire, develop and refine new concepts, new skills, and new techniques.  When encouraged to experiment, children are free to attempt challenges they would otherwise refuse for fear of failure, for fear of not putting up a satisfactory result. Its when immediate outcomes and performance are placed ahead of experiential learning that problems arise. This is why our philosophy is…

The Olympian Experience Philosophy

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?