2002 / 2006 / 2010 Three Consecutive Swedish Olympic Teams
There are themes that repeat in the LTAD literature.
From 7-10 yo the local parents set up a “sports school.” One day a week, they’d have a couple hours and try different activities
Very active childhood, but no early specialization, Johan’s skate focus started ~13 yo
Continued to play organized soccer/tennis, and lots of spontaneous ball sports, through his mid-teens. His skating coach supported all general training and encouraged him to continue
Ran, cycled, raced Swedish Nationals (road race)
Grew up in a small city, 125,000 population at present
Surprising to me, Johan didn’t come from a Skate Family.
His Dad was a Regional Class soccer player. As the family grew, his father’s focus shifted from his own sports to being a soccer and bandy coach for kids. He continued to run and race 1-2x per year. Johan’s mom was artistic and both parents worked full-time through this childhood.
His entry to the sport of speed skating was via a local club that handled training, talent development and races.
VERY independent in approach – the local club organized bus trips to race in the Netherlands and Germany in his Tweens, without parents, staying with locals.
Johan was the key driver in getting himself to a very high level. The Swedish Club system and local coaching infrastructure gave him the opportunity to train himself to a world class level.
Johan, and I, are very interested in helping our kids excel at sport. It was the #1 topic for our call.
0-2 years old: we are a swim family, our babies all started out very comfortable in the water. If you want your kids to swim then, ideally, continue their natural-born comfort via positive experiences in the water, from birth.
2-6 years old
Movement skills via gymnastics – we didn’t progress into pre-team, very basic balance, agility and movement for all our kids
Swimming – a swim lesson, once a week, every week – from a coach, who wasn’t us.
Soccer Tots – from preschool age, coordination, bit of running, general play
Preschool – three years, play-based preschool where they learned skills to get along with other kids – early socialization in a play-based environment
7-12 years old
Just like Johan, lots of different sports: Thai Boxing, Jiu Jitsu, Indoor Climbing, Swimming, Soccer, Hiking, Running, Downhill Skiing, Uphill Skiing, Water Polo, Indoor Skiing
Some sports come-and-go, continue at least once per week swimming lesson.
Family policy is “do something” – we are willing to change what they do each season.
Lots of activity – competition mostly absent
In this phase, build self-confidence.
Two examples are indoor climbing and skiing. Both sports involve: movement skills, problem solving, fear management and young kids can be better than many adults. Huge confidence boosters for our crew.
No judges, no scoring, we SHARE athletic experiences with our kids.
Something a little different.
Summer Swim League from a very early age (5 yo) for each of our kids.
Intense 10 week summer season where they swim M-F and have a dual meet on Saturday
Touch the water ~80 days across their summer holiday
Finals event with 100s of kids, gives them big venue experience
Positive early race experience by winning ribbons at the dual meets, and eventually medals at the Finals event
Teen Years – like Johan, specialize if THEY want.
Our only policy is that everyone does something, including us.
Our oldest is a swim specialist and soon-to-be 14 yo. She still does extracurricular cross-country running, track and skiing. Her summer swim focus, continues since 5 yo.
We only have negative-control.
In other words, we can screw things up, but we cannot make it happen.
What makes it happen?
Wide range of movement skills
An environment to excel – access to skilled coaches and motivated teammates
The child’s, and eventually the teen’s, inherent drive
It’s a long road to the top!
Final questions => be brutally honest with yourself…
What do I want for my kids, and why do I want it?
A lifelong enjoyment of daily exercise NOT a self-identity wrapped up in winning!
Am I seeking to compete, or win, through them?
I want to enjoy nature alongside them. Many parents care far too much about results.
Understand my values & biases
We try to keep our kids, and ourselves, grounded by exposure to a WIDE range of field strengths. There is a benefit from getting our butts kicked every so often.
As parents, we are mostly positively reinforcing.
We offer immediate, negative feedback (and event venue removal) when we witness poor sportsmanship. We’ve left sports when we didn’t like the peers.