Why GymbaROO Kids Excel at Sport

Dr Jane Williams

Sporting prowess is perhaps the easiest area of development to understand in regard to its link to GymbaROO, after all, GymbaROO is a movement-based program and one would expect that if you practice motor skills on a regular basis, then you would develop the skills needed to become a talented sports person. We are presently documenting hundreds of stories involving GymbaROO graduates doing exactly that and excelling in their chosen sporting fields.

Tony Samaras, a FIFA qualified soccer coach, is a strong advocate of the GymbaROO program. He explains: “I see many young soccer players, hopeful that they will be scouted to play at league level. At fifteen years of age, when trialling for my elite training squad, I can pick out GymbaROO graduates as soon as they run onto the field. Of the seven graduates from this squad that have been selected to play European league, six are GymbaROO kids.” He explains what he sees in these teenagers that makes them stand out.

  1. GymbaROO kids are so well lateralised that they have excellent control of both left and right feet. They are able to automatically and smoothly coordinate movement and this gives them the ability to manipulate the ball expertly while moving in any direction.
  2. GymbaROO kids have quick reflexes, enabling them to respond to rapidly changing circumstances and conditions on the field.
  3. GymbaROO kids have hand-eye coordination that stands out. This gives them the leading edge on other players, as they are able to manipulate the ball with great skill.
  4. GymbaROO kids have excellent spatial awareness – this means they know exactly where they are on the field at any time, exactly how far, in what direction and with what power they need to kick a ball, and how quickly they can move to a new location on the field.
  5. GymbaROO kids can visualise – essential for accurate execution of passing/kicking/catching a ball all whilst on the move.
  6. GymbaROO kids follow instructions and do not need them repeated.
  7. GymbaROO kids are more attentive.
  8. GymbaROO kids show more initiative.
  9. GymbaROO kids demonstrate leadership skills – a key component for a successful soccer career and which matters most for team sporting careers.

This coach so strongly believes that GymbaROO is the essential ingredient for sporting success he suggests that if we want great future Socceroo or Matilda Olympic teams, then we need to make sure everyone does GymbaROO from babyhood!

Why are GymbaROO graduates so successful on the sporting field?

There is a very good reason why the GymbaROO journey begins in your baby’s earliest months and continues until your child is five years old. It is during these earliest years that the foundational neurological processes essential for sporting prowess are ‘wired up’.  As the brain matures, it develops motor message pathways from bottom up. Each stage of motor skill development provides our babies and children with the experiences necessary for the next developmental level of achievement. This is a step-by-step process. Starting from automatic responses, babies gradually learn to control a movement skill, practice it, refine it and then move on to learning the next level of skill. The activities offered at GymbaROO help babies and children gain the important sensory and motor stimulation required for each step on this ‘ladder of learning’. Skipping or breezing over any of these ‘steps’ will make achieving a high level of proficiency and coordination near impossible.

One of the skills Tony Samaras refers to is the brain process of ‘laterality’, which enables a child to coordinate both sides of the body at the same time, while each side performs a different task.  For example, when kicking a ball, one leg is kicking while the other maintains balance. Good coordination is an indicator that both sides of the brain are communicating effectively and sharing information so that the body can operate in a smooth, coordinated and timely manner.

The foundations of laterality are built gradually over the first three years of life, however the skill is not properly refined until three to five years and is reflected in the ability to learn key motor skills such as hopping, cross pattern marching and skipping, and the ability to seamlessly cross the midline of their body during movement tasks – moving one hand, foot or eye into the space of the other hand, foot or eye without having to turn the body.  Children who have excellent laterality skills will also have excellent ball control skills, have quick reflexes and ‘stand out’ hand-eye coordination. The cross-pattern movements of children who are not lateralised will be jerky and uncoordinated, and balls skills will be a nightmare.

Visualisation is also a critical component of any team sport. It enables a player to be able to ‘see in his/her mind’s eye’ how the game is playing out, what the potential future moves are likely to be and how to respond before the moves are executed. At GymbaROO we start visualisation activities from baby classes. It takes years to be highly competent at visualization and practice, practice, practice is the key.

Lots of movement experiences in the first years of life also lead to emotional maturity in sport as children learn to explore, experience learning by trial and error, learn to play by the rules and to socialise with others.

Of course, developing ­any of the skills that the FIFA coach talks about does not happen overnight. Repetition is important for them all and that’s why we suggest you and your child enjoy some key GymbaROO activities every day at home. If you come along regularly to class and repeat activities at home, then over five years you will see your child gradually but surely develop the skills essential for sporting success and prowess.

Link to ABSK article http://activebabiessmartkids.com.au/articles/why-gymbaroo-kids-excel-at-sport/