Ask The Experts
Q: I will be signing my 10-year-old son up for his first season of football and I really want him to have a good time. Are there any activities or drills I can do with him this summer to get him prepared for the start of the season in the fall?
A: My best advice for encouraging your child to have a good time is just that: encourage him to have fun! Allow him to enjoy the experience of playing football, finding camaraderie with his teammates and learning the basics of the game from the coach, without the pressure of working on anything prior to the start of the season in which there will be a big learning curve, regardless of his level of preparation.
Given this is his first season of football, engaging in drills and skill-based exercises without the supervision of a coach or trained professional could actually be a deterrent to his future acquisition of technically correct movements and skills. Working on these types of things on his own poses a few important physical and mental risks: one, he could become injured in some way, particularly if he is working to perform skilled movements without the proper training; two, there is a high likelihood that he will inadvertently teach himself/learn incorrect technique if working on his own without supervision from someone with the appropriate knowledge; and three, he may get discouraged and/or burnt out quickly if he is training on his own, as drills, while a crucially important part of proper training in any sport, can often be boring, repetitive and the advantage of the skill development from these types of activities is hard to see without being in a competition-type scenario (i.e.: teammates to run plays with, scrimmages, games, etc.).
Further, while he will likely only be learning rudimentary skills in his first season, it would behoove him to learn these in a coordinated, sequenced fashion, while watching more highly skilled players complete the drills and movements he will be asked to do.
That said, once the season has begun, if he so desires, I would highly encourage him to speak with the coach and discuss drills and activities that he might be able to perform on his own in his free time. Should he choose to do this, he will be given more specific direction from the coach on how to develop particular competencies he may be lacking, likely have a better frame of reference to perform these drills correctly, and decide that he is committed to improving his skills in this sport.
Jaime R. DeLuca is an assistant professor of Sport Management in the Department of Kinesiology at Towson University. She is a former swimmer who has coached and competed at the Division I level. She earned a Ph.D. from the University of Maryland, a M.A. from the University of Connecticut, and a B.S. from Pennsylvania State University. Her research and teaching focuses on the management and socio-cultural aspects of sport.
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