Friday, March 26, 2010

Chronological vs Physiological Age

These two volleyball athletes are 2 years apart in age and grade (senior and sophomore), yet they are worlds apart from the standpoint of physiological development. One can stand and place his hands above the 8 ft net; the other (last name Hercules--no kidding!) can just about walk under the net without ducking. But even Chris (aka The Thin Man) doesn't have to shave very often yet. He's just starting to go through major hormonal changes; though tall, he still has a great deal of physical development left. The opportunity to red shirt at USC will benefit him greatly.

Our current hodgepodge system of sport in the US tends to reward early physical maturation and forget about those that reach their physiological prime a bit later in life. All young athletes deserve and need fundamental movement skills and physical competencies. All deserve to learn the fundamental skills of a sport, rather than be pigeon-holed into one position at age 13 because we have no idea where they might fit into the puzzle at at 18 and especially age 24. And what about intangibles like leadership, tenacity, drive, the ability to thrive under pressure? Size matters, but it isn't always the best predictor of athletic success or even best sport choice later in life.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thanks Tracy, an excellent reminder. It's easy to slip into thinking that a developing athlete is the one in that 12 - 14 year old age group. Your post today is such a good reminder that development is an intrinsic process. It also makes me think about the challenge Malcom Gladwell raises in thinking about how well or how poorly we do at capitalizing on the human potential in our communities. We really shoot ourselves in the foot with shortsighted practices and systems. Thanks for the post

Tim Clark

Howard Gray said...

The early vs. late specialization is such a good debate. I say debate, but really, when looking at the long term facts and science, it really isn't much of a debate. Sadly we live in a "short term results" world which seems to satisfy the parents and coaches (the ones looking to make a buck).
Best of luck to "The thin man" at USC - I don't really know much about Men's Volleyball but will keep an eye on his progress as he develops.
Always a pleasure to read your blog Tracy.