An innovative multi-sport camp is coming to Edmonton courtesy of a unique collaboration between Volleyball Alberta, Basketball Alberta, and the Alberta Soccer Association.
Play Sports Alberta was created to teach kids between the ages of 6 and 8 the fundamental movement skills of volleyball, basketball, and soccer through developmentally-appropriate games and activities.
This kind of organizational partnership supports the multi-sport approach, which is slowly but surely becoming the norm at the grassroots level.
But it hasn’t always been this way.
Dr. Amanda Visek, associate professor at George Washington University in Washington, D.C., studied the reasons behind dwindling sports participation numbers and published the results four years ago. The short answer is that kids quit sports when they aren’t having fun. And yet, this culture of early specialization that leads to injuries and burnout persists.
In an interview published in the Vancouver Sun, one dad who has kids playing sports talked about the lure of early specialization, specifically in hockey, where the immediate results of early specialization are often visible. “I do look at the kids who are specializing, and there are early returns, and the early returns are huge. Hockey is one of those sports, where if you’re just a little bit better skater than the other kids on the ice, you’re going to score 15 goals a game. I can see where it’s easy to get sucked into (specialized training),” he said.
Multi-sport camps like Play Sports Alberta, collaborative campaigns like Play More Sports, and encouragement from Hockey Canada president Tom Renney all show a shift in mindset away from early specialization. But making multi-sport practical for parents is important. And putting this mindset into action is the responsibility of the local clubs and associations with buy-in from parents, according to advocates.
In Delta, B.C., where hockey and soccer run concurrently during the fall and winter, the local hockey and soccer clubs have harmonized schedules to allow kids to participate in both sports. It’s one way to remove the pressure of choosing a single sport from kids and parents. And when the pressure’s off, the fun is on.
Fun is the number one reason why kids play. And that’s science.