No matter what type of physical sports you do, you will always benefit from power, stamina, sense of balance and coordination in one way or the other. Especially when it comes to Basketball you need all of them to perform at the best possible.

This weekend we had another home game day and I was in the gym watching 14U teams playing against eachother in an exciting game. I always notice that there are those kids who stand out, and you have others who can hardly pay tribute to the physical requirements of the game.

To sum up my personal view: physical fitness isn’t something you can take for granted these days. I’ve been the type of kid who had always been climbing trees and walls, spending countless hours outside enjoying. This is how it used to be in the past. And this is what helped me a lot when enjoying my sports later. Profiting from my acquired coordinational skills when I was young, I always was successful in learning the different complex mechanics of the game. I learned quick an correctly, thanks to me climbing trees and walls.

A study from 2008 by the German Sports University in Cologne which was conducted together with the Bundeswehr (the German army) showed, that the physical fitness of the soldiers had caused a wide concern. More than 40% had overweight. This is much higher than the percentage of overweight in the civilian population. Around 20% of the soldiers don’t go in for sports and almost 50% are smoking regularly.

Recent studies regarding the physical condition of childrend are even more concerning. In the 1970s German educationalists developed a test to measure the coordinatioal skills of children. These test were fairly simple, like walking backwards or jumping on a spot from left to right. To make the tests comparable throughout a large base of participants they defined a conventional value.

In the 1970s the tests were passed regularly, but in the early 1990s almost 30% of the elementary school students failed to meet the conventional value. Some kids could stand on one leg for minutes, others failed within 10 seconds. In 2000 50% failed the test. Even today these students fail to turn a summersault on the ground or climb wall bars. In the 1970 children could jump their length of their body, today only a few can.

Another interesting study from the Netherlands shows, that children can rather use a computer mouse and open a web browser, then knowing how to swim or lace up their shoes. Around 20% were able to operate a smart phone easily, but had problems driving their bicycle due to coordinational and balancing problems.

According to the study, from the two- and three-year olds almost 50% were able to play a computer game. The study says, that children these days learn walking and operating a computer almost at the same time.

This is mainly caused because in our daily life static activities, like watching TV or playing the Playstation Portable, are taking up more time than riding bicycles or doing sports of any kind. Another reason is that children find less and less place to interact with their invironment riskless, like in parks or on playgrounds. This is a real problem especially in larger cities. Also, parents tend to “over protect” their children, limiting their spontaneity to go outside, for example. Therefore they rather bring their children to organized clubs to minimize the risk of injuries.

My plea is to emphasize the importance of outdoor activities. Going for an extended walk or having a good game of basketball in your drive-way should be a semi-regular activity. It is the job of us (grown-ups) to support and motivate our children. When doing practice sessions I’ve learned, that if you conduct these practices in a creative and fun way, you can easily motivate children to get their butts of the couch and enjoy. We have to give them opportunities to try new things and let them go to their limits. Don’t let your children become a couch potato. It won’t help them being successful in the local Basketball team, and it definitely won’t help them to live a healthy life.

What are your experiences?

[info_box]Picture credit: Mr ConguitoCreative Commons Attribution[/info_box]