If you and your kids have been inspired by the summer of Sport, you might be dreaming of one day seeing them on the podium as you, the proud parent, capture the hearts of the world’s media like Bert Le Clos. A guide released today by parenting website Yano.co.uk and contributed to by a variety of sports scientists and experts could help you decide whether your child really is destined for stardom.
The guide identifies eight factors that are proven to dictate sporting ability and are qualities shared by this summer’s sporting successes. In addition, fitness and nutrition expert James Osborn BSc MSc has helped Yano.co.uk develop a test based on these factors, to show where your child could rank in terms of sporting potential.
It’s fascinating to see the qualities that contribute to a child’s potential. But the most important thing is we encourage all kids to be inspired by this year’s role models to become more active..."
EIGHT FACTORS THAT DETERMINE SPORTING ABILITY
‘Elite athletes are getting heavier and taller, and they are getting taller faster,’ according to Adrian Bejan, professor of mechanical engineering at Duke University in the US and author of Design In Nature. His research found that, over the past 100 years, elite swimmers have grown on average 4.5 inches, more than double that of the normal population (2 inches), while elite sprinters have shot up 6.4 inches. ‘The global trend is peanuts compared to the evolution of the very few who signify the sport,’ Bejan says. So, if your child is of above average height and build, they’re likely to have a head-start on the competition.
2. Date of Birth
There’s a great deal of research out there that suggests the month in which your child is born will figure greatly in their chances of sporting success. When we’re young, eight to 12 months can equal a big difference in levels of maturity. For example, two children in the same year group at school can look very different if one is born is born in September and one is born in August of the following year. ‘The result is that the bigger and stronger child gets picked for teams ahead of the smaller one, leading to increased quality of training, better coaching and more hours of practice.’ says James Osborn, Head of Personal Training at Freedom2 Train.
Although fourth-place 110m hurdler Lawrence Clarke claimed his Eton education put him at a disadvantage, with hours that could have been dedicated to after-school training taken up by academic work, it is generally believed that private school privilege extends to sporting privilege. State schools offer fewer opportunities than public schools,’ says Alan Nevill, editor-in-chief of the Journal of Sports Sciences at Wolverhampton University. ‘They have better equipment, facilities and access to sport. Plus the pupils usually have successful parents who instil motivation at a young age. These children have the right attitude.’
4. Number of Siblings
Giving your child siblings helps – just ask triathlon stars Alistair and Jonny Brownlee. ‘We’ve always been very competitive,’ says Jonny, the younger of the two. ‘We play a lot of table tennis in our garden at home and we’ve had some very serious matches. We’ve never finished a game of Monopoly because the one who’s losing always quits before the end.’ But it works both ways, in that they help each other through training and even races. ‘We have the same strengths so we complement each other when we work together. I’ve worked for him in races. I can feel disappointed if I sacrifice my race but it’s worth it if he wins.’
5. Parental pushiness
Victoria Pendleton has reportedly endured a sometimes painful love/hate relationship with cycling since being dragged along to her dad’s amateur races as a child. ‘Some children share the dream of the Parent,’ says Bejan. ‘And some can see the financial benefit.’ But others, as he puts it, ‘don’t have their own music to listen to and end up unhappy.’
Helen Glover, rower, had to cheat to get past the height limit at the ‘Sporting Giants’ talent identification scheme in 2008. ‘I did kind of have to stand on tiptoes,’ she says. ‘I was half an inch too short but it worked.’ Determination can go a long way!
The 10,000 hours rule has been much-publicised and football legend Dennis Bergkamp once said, ‘talent can be trained into a player’. ‘What he means is skill,’ says Bejan. ‘Skill can be taught and learned.’
‘Skill can be taught and learned. Talent, or creativity, can’t. But we can encourage young minds to throw off inhibitions and free their creativity’ says Bejan.
In addition, other physical factors will dictate a child’s aptitude for a certain sport, for example, long torsos make for better swimmers, whilst long legs make for better runners, according to Bejan.
Yano.co.uk founder, Ann-Marie McKimm, says:"‘It’s fascinating to see the qualities that contribute to a child’s potential. But the most important thing is we encourage all kids to be inspired by this year’s Role Models to become more active and healthy."
Share your child’s #podiumpotential on twitter with @yanolife.
Does your child have 'podium potential'? Tell us in the comments below or tweet us @FemaleFirst_UK
Shabana Adam @Shabana_FAM