Note: This is a sponsored post to promote Samsung´s video for the Youth Olympic Games 2016. The theme of the post, however – how to contribute in a positive manner to the children´s and youth´s involvement in sports, regardless of the level they perform at – is my personal choice, along with the research I refer to and other details in the post.
The world’s best young winter athletes from 70 nations have recently participated in the Youth Olympic Games (YOG) in Lillehammer, Norway. These athletes represent the percentage of youngsters who do not give up on their sport, but instead pursue their skills and talent, train vigorously for countless hours, all the while maintaining focus on their goal, despite the challenges that teenage life offers. Electronics giant Samsung showcases some of these young athletes in their video, amongst others, Norwegian talents Vebjørn Hegdal (cross country) and Markus Kleveland (snowboard) – while guidelines from the Norwegian Olympic Top are timing-appropriate in order to inspire us all to positively support all of our sporty youngsters, regardless age, gender, and skill level.
Young Olympic Games ( YOG ) hosts 1 100 young athletes aged 15 to 18 years old, from 70 nations, who compete in 15 different medal events. YOG takes place in Lillehammer , Hamar, Gjovik , Oppland and Oslo from 12th to the 21st February. As one of the event partners, Samsung launched a video precisely about YOG. The video has already over eight million views on YouTube .
In the film we see young athletes who are training hard and preparing for the Youth Olympics. The idea behind the movie is to help teens fight against the challenges that teenage life offers.
The 15 -year-old Norwegian snowboard talent Markus Kleveland is one of the profiles that is praised in Samsung ‘s new video. He has been named one of the top ten best winter sports young talents and already at age 13, he was the youngest ever to land the very challenging trick Triple Cork ( a triple somersault with four rotations).
Vebjørn Hegdal (17) from Larvik is another young Norwegian profile that appears in Samsung ‘s video . Even before turning 18, it is being speculated whether he is the greatest cross country talent, with results that are “almost unparalleled”, according to Norwegian expert commentator Fredrik Aukland.
Among Hegdal´s accomplishments is fourth place in Skarverennet last year, when he beat Olympic and World Championship gold medalists Petter Northug and Dario Cologna.
Read more: Is Vebjørn (17) the Norwegian all-time cross country talent? (Article in Norwegian)
– The athletes were selected based on their dedication and passion relationship with their sport. They show courage and determination to defy external pressure and doubt, while they sacrifice elements that make up the life of a “normal” teenager, says Hayle Chun , global marketing manager at Samsung, in a press release.
Many of the athletes in the Youth Olympics will win medals in the Olympics later in life, and will become the greatest in the world, states YOG on their website.
Such feats are going to (still) require much time, effort, determination, discipline and focus from the athletes. In addition, there will (still) be many factors that they are exposed to in the challenge of combining daily life with elite sportsmanship, such as the sheer amount of training commitment, school / studies / exams / work, friends, family, mental health, environmental conditions and physical health.
What the youths under YOG have managed to achieve so far is highly admirable. It is simply impressive! Because of the fact that each and every one of them started from the same place: from scratch. By finding joy in their sport, in the social aspect of the sport, in the sense of mastering the sport and/or by finding pleasure in competing. One or several of these aspects are something that all young athletes, regardless of age, gender and skill level, can agree with.
Yet, the statistics (in Norway) regarding how many youngsters give up on their sport, are gloomy:
- 8 out of 10 teenagers quit playing a sport
- 85 percent of all Norwegian children participate in organized sports activities, but only about 20 – 25 percent continue to do so until they are young adults.
- (source, Norwegian article)
Football (44 percent), handball (30 percent), gymnastics (29 percent), dance (21 percent) and swimming (19 percent) are sports that experience most children who quit participating in.
Something happens when a child moves on from children´s sports activities to sports activities for youth. What are the reasons they drop out?
When the Norwegian Broacasting Corporation questioned 850 teens aged 11 to 15, their answers showed the following reasons to why the dropped out of their sport (ranged from Most important reason why I dropped out to Least important reason why I dropped out):
- It was boring (57,4 percent)
- It was too time consuming (21,5 percent)
- I didn´t feel I was good enough (19,3 percent)
- Other reasons (18,2 percent)
- My friend/friends dropped out (14,4 percent)
- I was not happy with my coach/trainer (9,3 percent)
- It took to much time and focus from school work (8,2 percent)
- I got injured (5,4 percent)
- I didn´t get to play (4,9 percent)
- It cost too much money (4,1 percent)
- I was teased/bullied (3,9 percent)
- I had to move (2,8 percent)
- Too much pressure from my parents (1,5 percent)
- My parents weren´t interested (0,5 percent)
Source: nrk.no/livsstil (Norwegian article)
The Norwegian Olympic Top guide for parents
The question is: What can we, as coaches, parents, leaders, friends, family and authorities do to support the kids in sports? How can we contribute positively to their development? And what are the limits of what can be termed as positive?
On their website the Norwegian Olympic Top published in 2013 a “Parents Guide,” which through nine recommendations advices on how parents can help in the children’s sports environment in a positive way. The Olympic Top emphasizes that parents are significant, whether their children are elite athletes or not.
“It is important that children have involved parents who care about both their own and other people’s children. Experiences and feedback from coaches and athletes show that it can be experienced as demanding to handle parents who, although in their best meaning, contribute in a non-constructive way to their children´s sports environment, ” states the Olympic Top.
The recommendations in the guide are based on research results from sports science and experiences of coaches who work with children and young people, and are not spesific to any sport or age group.
Yes, it is important to note that the guide is primarily intended for parents of children who pursue a sport. Nevertheless, I find this guide useful also for myself as an aspiring fitness- and tennis coach – it inspires me as well as as a mother, when that time comes.
The Norwegian Olympic Top nine recommendations for parents
Whether you are the parent of a child or teen involved in a sport, the head of sports team, a coach, a trainer, are related to or have a friend who plays a sport, I would certainly recommend you read how you, according to the Norwegian Olympic Top, can contribute in a positive manner to the children’s sports environment :
- Give your child information and advice in their choice of sports. You can encourage them, but let the children themselves make the final decision whether they want to participate or not, and which sport they want to participate in .
- By being physically active yourself, you will be a good rolemodel for your child´s participation in a sport.
- It is important that you as a parent know that children of the same age can be very different in terms of maturity.
- Emphasize the joy of participating in a sports activity and the development of friendships.
- Give praise and applaud when your child shows good effort and skill development. – Remember that your child is participating in sports to learn and to master skills. Avoid focusing solely on results in competitions.
- Notice and applaud also when your child’s teammates or opponents show good skills . – Help to create good relations with the other parents. Show respect and be polite, even when emotions are involved.
- Support the coach and the job he she does. Do not give technical instruction during a competition. This can be disruptive for the coach, and it can cause confusion and uncertainty among the young participants .
- Show good sportsmanship, respect rules, refereeing decisions and the organizer’s decisions in events where your children are participating. This is important even if you have other ideas or disagree.
- You can help best by cooperating with and supporting the sports environment your child is in.
I find these recommendations to be very good guidelines to know how to positively affect our/the children´s sport enviroment, so that they can get as much joy, experiences and good values out of sport as possible.
– If you agree or like this post, please share it with others that may have interest in reading it. –
– Always strive for progression, not perfection. –
Sporty regards, Christina Mihaela Carare
Photo: Markus Lysaker, v/ Kick Training
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