Raising an Athlete: Teaching a Child to be an Athlete from the Beginning

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Raising an Athlete

Today I am writing about my favorite topic. I am going to answer some questions about raising athletes. My son, Rock Mash has developed into quite the two-year-old. He has been ahead of the game since day 1, which is thanks to genetics and his mother. His mother worked out during her entire pregnancy. She also dialed in her nutrition and recovery to ensure that Rock was getting all the nutrients necessary for fetus development. There are also a lot of studies that suggest working out during pregnancy gives the baby a lot of development benefits.

However this article is more about what we are doing now to ensure Rock’s development and growth. So far Rock walked at 9-months old. He was talking regularly before one-year-old. He was potty trained before he was two. Does any of this mean that he’s going to be a great athlete? Probably not, but then again I haven’t seen any studies on the matter. A lot of that is genetics, and some of that is the fact that his mother, Emily Drew, gets to stay at home with the children. Another part of that is that I am able to spend a lot of time with my boys.

We are able to give our boys lots of one-on-one attention, and that means that we can assure that they are dealt with properly. For example, we don’t use walkers or jumpers to support our children. We don’t use anything that restricts them. We sit them on the floor in a safe environment, and we let the built in mechanisms do their job. God has supplied most children with an amazing assortment of tools designed to help children move in a functional way. The key is simply allowing those tools to work.

You will notice the following:

• Your child will roll over
• Your child will start to army crawl
• They will then start to move to a hands and knee position
• They will crawl
• Then they will start to climb to a standing position
• Then they will take their first steps.

The entire process is pretty amazing when you get to see it happen. Behr Bradley is five-months old, and he is already at the crawl stage. He might beat his brother, and walk by eight-months old. I think that Behr has more motivation because he wants to play with his older brother. Believe it or not, but motivation is a huge part of the process. Rock crawled because he wanted to be a part of the action. I am writing this while watching Behr do the same thing. It’s actually pretty cute to watch. I am actually cheering him on. Go Behr Go!

At one-year-old we started Rock in Gymnastics, and that was the best decision ever. The only rule was that the child had to be at least one-year-old and be able to walk. Rock’s development has been amazing. Almost every week he is able to perform a new task or perform an old task even better. I never dreamed that at two-years-old Rock would be able to:

• Climb
• Solo walks on balancing beams
• Handstands
• Wall Walks
• Pull-ups
• Bar flips
• Forward Rolls
• Backward Rolls
• Trampoline jumps
• Toes 2 Bars

Salem Gymnastics and Swim have been so much more than that for Rock’s Development. I have watched his confidence soar (that’s their slogan by the way). At the beginning of every class each child is called by name to go to the center of the circle and perform a Ta-Da with hands overhead. At first Rock was shy, and he didn’t want to go to the middle. Now it’s no problem. That confidence shows in other areas of his life as he communicates with others. He isn’t shy anymore.

You can learn many other skills from gymnastics as well. My favorite is that Rock is learning to be patient. Sometimes there are lines to wait in for certain pieces of equipment like the tumble track. Rock has to wait in line, and then he has to wait for the athlete in front of him to complete the track. At first Rock didn’t want to wait, so I had many opportunities to teach him lessons in patience. These lessons have been invaluable in other areas of his life.

He has also learned to share. Now that’s a hard one for just about every child. Let’s be honest! That’s a hard one for most adults that I know. For example, there are hula-hoops for the children to play with. These are hot commodities for two-year-olds evidently. Once again these are great opportunities to teach, and believe me we have had many discussions.

Besides gymnastics, we make sure that Rock spends most of his day playing outside weather permitted of course. Luckily our family owns a farm, so Rock has free reign to climb, build, dig, ride his tricycle, run, and jump. He loads rocks into his wagon and builds rock walls, massive rock walls. This is the way that children build athleticism. They play, they fall, and they get back up! It’s really that simple, but it is a lost form. Nowadays kids are watching TV, playing video games, and messing with IPads. I am not saying that Rock doesn’t watch TV. I am just saying that we limit it screen time.

We also have him in swim class, which is important to his parents and grandparents. My biggest fear is water, when it comes to my children. I am sure that any parent reading this knows exactly what I am talking about. Once again he is learning to use his body in multiple ways. However in this case he is learning to survive if he falls into a pool. He’s climbing out of the pool, jumping into the pool, and floating on his back. He’s learning to hold his breath under water. These are survival skills and athleticism combined. Once again, thank you to Salem Gymnastics and Swim!

I am so thankful that we are able to spend so much time with our boys. I am also thankful that we are able to supply them with so many opportunities to learn and grow stronger. At a young age our job as parents is simply to introduce our children to as many activities as possible. You want believe how quickly that they can pick up new activities and movements when they are young.

Here’s a link to the podcast that I did with John Welbourn all about “Raising an Athlete”:

“Raising an Athlete with Power Athlete’s John Welbourn”

I enjoy this topic for obvious reasons. I want to do a series on raising athletes of all ages for all of you parents, trainers, and coaches. Let me know what questions you have, and I will research to find the best answers. Thanks for reading!

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