I come across many parents who come to my OPD with their child and say Sir I want him/her to become a cricketer or wrestler, can we start the training at such a young age?
I listen to them and ask the kid do u love playing cricket or wrestling? If he/she says NO I send them back and the consultation is over. This is the most important part of choosing sports as a career. If your child is happily ready then you can go ahead and give it a try.
The next thing before choosing any game is you must know whether your child loves to play alone or in a group. So it will be easier for you to choose between an individual game or a team game. Also, there are many other things that will help you identify a suitable game but these two things will start your search.
If you really want your kid to play professionally, the start should be as early as possible right at the age of one or two years. But don’t make your kid do exercise. YES ,you read it correctly; DON’T because exercise can be very boring for kids. Adults may find joy in doing exercise but not our kids. They must play, play and play……. All we can do is make things and place available for them. Let them enjoy…..So that one fine day your kid will come and say, Dad I cannot kick the ball as long as my best friend can or I cannot run fast. This is the time you can introduce weight training to him/her. Like this, the child will identify the problem and you or the teacher can provide the answers.
Never tell your kid about your childhood stories of exercise like we used to do this and that. A good parent will start doing all those activities with their kids. For e.g. Climbing a tree or a hill, swimming for a long duration, playing water games, etc. All this needs patience and participation of parents. It should be like a play so the kid will enjoy it. You cannot rely fully on the coach.
The question remains …..What age is best to start training? Well, any age is OK. But sooner the better. Start his/her swimming at the age of 3 years. Do it at least for a few months. Then introduce gymnastics or mallakhamb and finally to basics of athletics. By the age of seven years, your kid must be able to do all movements involved in the above activities. Only then introduce him/her to many sports activities. By the age of ten to twelve years your kid will definitely tell you which sport is suitable for him/her and then it’s time to shift the gear and start training for a specific game.
This may sound easy but difficult for those parents who just spend money and are not actively involved in the process. So the best advice that I can give all young parents is, make your children play and you be an active part of their early years of play/sports.
Dr. Sudhanshu V Takawale
Fellowship in SPORTS Sciences
Consultant in Exercise Therapy for Spine and Joint Pain, Diet and Lifestyle Management