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  • Writer's pictureJason St Clair Newman

Is Your Child Adaptable?

Updated: Mar 31, 2022

Having an interesting conversation this morning with a fellow coach about his son winning his school endurance time trial with no endurance training - he doesn't run further than 40 metre distances, attends his weekly football practice, does athletics, gymnastics and plays outside.

He beat the child who's parent made him do daily 30min endurance sessions.

This for me this is a good example of the definition of adaptability, and why I consider it to be one of, if not the biggest keys to future performance.

Having a wide/broad range of activities sets up your child to be adaptable to what they are presented with in their physical environments whether thats playing sport, climbing a tree or trying a new activity for the first time.

The child who can call on different movements that they may have learnt or used in another activity regularly gives them a step up over the child who just does the same thing day in day out.

Children generally have notoriously short attention spans, unless it's something fun and enjoyable, doing the same thing day after day, over and over again, can often lead to boredom and dropping out. When it stops being fun kids will just stop.

The other issue coaches like myself often see in kids who just do the same thing 24, 365 is the occurrence in overuse injuries.


and if it is, then it may pay to take a look at just what is going on.

I saw this a lot in football where the kids would turn up to play with knee, thigh and ankle issues, why ... well they didn't really play any other sports apart from football (soccer) every day all year, often in structured training.

The adaptable child is the one who plays lots of different sports and activities, and these different exposures to movement patterns have a lot of crossover, take basketball and soccer, understanding space, passing triangles, quick foot movement, explosiveness, jumping, and the list goes on.

The fact they are different is great as it keeps it fresh, fun and challenging and in my book that's great for kids.

The variety of stresses different sports/activities place on the body I believe help lay strong foundations for physical adaptations as well, often aiding in the prevention of injury and adding a level of robustness and athleticism to the child.

Have you ever noticed the kid who is good at a couple of sports is often fairly capable and quick learner in others they don't have so much experience with.

Here is a list of some my favourite sports for variety



Athletics (all events not just one, think decathlon)

Climbing (bouldering or roped)




Dance (all dance types, fantastic for rhythm, strength, balance, body awareness, flexibility ....)

Martial Arts

Exposing even some of these options to a child will result in developmental changes that structured sports can't provide.

If I had to just pick 3 ?

Gymnastics (has to be a good coach)


Athletics (multi-events)

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