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Building Better Ballers: Why Movement Matters

In a time where early sport specialization is at an all-time high, appropriate youth athletic development is often rushed or neglected. Understanding the body, its strengths, and its limitations is essential in facilitating development in any sport. Before specializing in a sport, it’s important to focus on developing gross motor skills through participation in various physical activities.

Take a moment and reflect on the following: can you run, jump, throw, and catch? What about climbing monkey bars, swinging a baseball bat, and kicking a soccer ball?

If you answered ‘no’ to any of the above, it might be wise to consider mastering those movements before diving deeper into any one sport. A baseline level of muscular strength, muscular endurance, coordination, cardiovascular endurance, postural control, and balance is necessary BEFORE progressing and focusing on athletic performance.

When building a house, you start by creating a solid foundation. The same applies to sports.

When developing an athlete, we need to consider their body and ensure they’re able to perform an array of gross motor skills before specializing in one area. Furthermore, before moving onto athletic performance, it is important to master foundational movement patterns such as squatting. Without building an appropriate foundation, we hinder performance and increase the risk of preventable injuries.

In this column, we will provide evidenced-based information pertaining to the human body, movement, injuries, and rehabilitation in the context of youth athletics.

Winta Desta
Winta Desta PT, MScPT, HBK
Winta Desta is a Registered Physiotherapist dedicated to facilitating healthy child development and supporting youth athletes. She graduated with an Honours Bachelor of Kinesiology from Lakehead University, where she finished first in her class. She then completed a Master of Science in Physical Therapy from the University of Toronto. Winta currently practices at a multidisciplinary pediatric clinic in Vaughan. Outside of work, she coaches for the Northern Kings AAU Program.