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Talent Identification: Children Aged 6 to 8

Characteristics of the age group

Fun continues to be of paramount importance. As children develop physically, neural pathways are becoming established and the children have developed many of the gross motor skills. Throwing, for example, now has more body turn and weight transfer for boys, but still needs to be developed in girls. The children are active and are likely to be taking part in many different physical activities. This is very important because skills can be transferred between different sports and activities. Reaction speed is important, but, because neural pathways are still developing, many children find tracking and contacting a ball quite difficult. Improvement, however, is usually rapid.

The children need to develop:

Physical skills

  • Agility, balance and coordination.
  • Running, jumping and hopping.
  • Throwing (especially overhand) and catching.
  • Hitting and kicking.
  • Speed over a very short time (maximum of five seconds).
  • Reaction and tracking skills.

Mental and emotional skills

  • Confidence through FUN and success.
  • Concentration and focus is improving but is still short spans of time.
  • Copying and visual is the best way to learn.
  • Simple decision-making (making a choice).
  • Self reliance because they seek adult approval frequently.
  • Learning the concept of winning and losing

Social skills

  • Learning without a parent present.
  • Helping others in a group and sharing.
  • Often prefer being with their own gender.
  • Taking responsibility through simple tasks and requests.
  • Respect for opponents and adults

They will develop those skills more quickly with the following:

Appropriate equipment

  • 19, 21-and possibly 23inch racquets and red low compression balls.
  • Net or tape at height of 2 feet, 9 inches.
  • 36-foot court

Scoring and competitive structures

  • Scoring to seven points, using visual methods progressing to verbal methods.
  • Best 2-of-3 concept.
  • Scoring self and opponent in a game.
  • Playing in a team of 4-6 players.
  • Intra- and inter-group “competition.” with success in something for everyone.

Teaching methods

  • Coaching the children in small groups is important for rapid learning and for developing confidence, especially in girls.
  • Parents and helpers who show the children what to do and how to do it.
  • Circuits of activities to keep interest and the opportunity for success high.
  • Keeping children with their friends.
  • Developing a FUN and positive environment is important.
  • Physical activity to maintain interest.
  • The activities should be changed frequently and be simple and basic.
  • Brief and positive feedback—tell the children what they have done well or correctly.
  • Introduce the children to simple rules that can be set up quickly and that begin the process of learning the basic rules of the game.
  • Avoid explanations in preference to setting activities where, in succeeding, the children are also “doing it right.”

Length of Session

The optimal length of time for each session is 45 minutes, with a short break after 15-20 minutes.

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