SportMap sets path for young athletes 

Seminar covers physical, mental, nutritional aspects of training

The journey from bottom ranks to the national team in any sport may be a long and difficult one, but at least there’s a map to follow.

More than 220 young athletes, coaches and parents took part in the inaugural SportMap Primer Workshop at Millennium Place on July 26, a presentation by the Telus Whistler Sport Centre.

The SportMap Primer is pilot project of the PacificSport Group, the B.C. Network of National and Regional Sport Centres, and SportMedBC which was undertaken on the behalf of the B.C. Sport System Integration Group. The group is comprised of the B.C. Games Society, the National Coaching Institute of B.C., the Coaches Association of B.C., the Premier’s Sports Awards Program, B.C. School Sports, Sport B.C. and the Sport and Community Capital Branch of the Government of B.C.

The goal of SportMap is to integrate all aspects of athletic development, such as skill development, fitness, psychology and nutrition, into a comprehensive program for B.C. athletes. It is also makes co-operation easier between various organizations within the B.C. sport system, enabling groups to pool resources and share tools to provide young athletes with "a dynamic environment for sport performance at all levels."

At Millennium Place, the participants went through a series of sessions with speakers who were involved in the creation of the SportMap Primer.

The first speaker was Dr. Istvan Balyi, a consultant with several Canadian national teams and a globally recognized expert on long-term athlete development. He discussed the B.C. Sport System’s Athlete Development Model, which he developed himself, and the importance of a staged progression from the most basic fundamentals of running, jumping and throwing to pursuing Olympic medals.

"What we are finding when we get to the competitive level is that many kids don’t know how to run properly, they don’t know how to jump properly," said Dr. Balyi. "I’ve always maintained that the best coaches should really be working with our younger kids, but instead we put them with our elite athletes.

"That is the opposite of the European system in ski racing, where the best coaches work with the youngest skiers, and there is a noticeable difference in terms of how the kids are developing."

Still, Dr. Balyi believes the B.C. program is years ahead of the rest of Canada in sport, sport theory and overall fitness. Programs in the province are even receiving international attention.

"We are the leading edge. People are watching us because they want to do what we are doing now. We don’t want to lose that edge. The athletes in this province are not just strong, we are in the process of bringing up kids as the whole athlete, as a complete person," said Balyi.


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