Episode 47: Child's Play - FUNdamental Lessons from Youth Development in Sport


Take a moment to revisit your childhood. Do you recall spending hours on end riding your bike around the neighborhood, exploring backyards for unknown treasures, splashing in the pool with your friends, or playing in the snow without thought or fear of the cold?

Ahhh…the glory days of child's play.

Hopefully, you engaged in a variety of activities, both structured and unstructured. You likely played soccer, or little league, or swam on your swim team. With luck, those days provided positive memories and awarded many undeniable traits that you carry with you today related to teamwork, leadership, creativity, passion, resilience and the importance of failure. Yes, the importance of failure.

That is the framework for Matt’s highly personal episode this week about childhood development in sports: the value of sports for children, setting up your kids for long-term performance, and the mindset and approach to being a supporting parent in their journey.

Matt takes on this important topic from three perspectives: as a former elite athlete, as a coach, and most importantly, as a father of a six-year-old son.

  • What are the global benefits of participation in sports as a youth?

  • Why should you build in unstructured play as well?

  • How do you set up your children for success?

  • How do you prepare them up for failure?

The journey of an athlete at any age extends well beyond physical development. It is a gateway of imagination, adventure, and shared journeys. It is a confidence booster and, quite often, a catalyst to problem-solving.

Most importantly, though, an athlete's journey should be fun. It's child's play after all.