With no sports, is there concern for athlete development?

With the COVID-19 pandemic putting an end to all sports worldwide, local clubs are trying to keep young athletes active and engaged through online programming.

The Alberta Basketball Association has its Hoops @ Home program, which has short videos with drills to keep skills sharp through this time. But it’s also meant to keep spirits up.

“Whether they have specific goals and aspirations about the sport of basketball, or if they are just getting bored at home they need something to hopefully ignite some activity,” said executive director Paul Sir.

The Edmonton Scottish Soccer Club is doing much of the same with live Zoom sessions for soccer players of all ages.

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Nick Holt is a coach with the club, but as a researcher from the University of Alberta who studies psycho-social aspects of sport and activity, he knows how important these sessions can be.

“I think it’s important for the coaches and the kids to stay connected with each other during this time,” said Holt.

“Things like that keeps your skills sharp, and maybe you can learn some new things but it keeps you connected and it gives you something to look forward to.”

So much work every year is put in to grassroots skills development in every sport. Being away from competition might be a little harmful, but Holt doesn’t think it will be detrimental in the long term.

“They’ll be so much motivation and enthusiasm to get back in to the game,” said Holt. “It doesn’t really worry me too much.”

And with an empty schedule, Holt has changed his tune from a month ago. While he preached keeping a schedule and structure in the early days of stay-at-home orders, maybe now it’s time for adventure.

“We might be getting in to a time where it’s important to give the kids variety and flexibility and just encourage them to go and explore different games and go play in the backyard and go to the local school and kick the ball around or whatever the sport might be.”

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