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By KEITH POWER for KPA ELITE Having been involved with elite level youth sports for 25 years, it is clear the expectations today for our...


Having been involved with elite level youth sports for 25 years, it is clear the expectations today for our young athletes have never been higher. Parents and kids alike feel the pressure to navigate this hyper-competitive, pressure-filled, make-it-or-break-it world of youth sport. 

  As parents, we often ask ourselves, “Am I doing enough?” “Am I doing too much?”

As parents we need to take a couple of steps back and ask two key questions. Do I understand student-athlete performance, and do I know where my child’s performance strengths and areas for development actually are? 

Over the past 25 years, KPA Elite Performance has studied and worked with hundreds of elite performers in student athletics, sport, business, the military, performing arts and show business. This led us to develop The KPA Elite Performance Model™ below, which is a simple, yet powerful way of understanding performance and how to execute at the elite level. It can be applied to any performance environment — not least for parents and student athletes.

  Talent and hard work alone are not the secret of your child’s long terms success. The basis of our model is that your child’s performance as an athlete, a student and individual is made up of six key skills or “cogs”. Success is ensuring that every one of those six skills are nurtured, developed and implemented.

  >> Performance Culture — This is the day-to-day environment, which is created for your child. It’s the bedrock of performance, because it can have such an enormous positive or negative impact on your child’s academic performance, sports performance and behavior.

  >> Physical Skills — these are the physical requirements of your child’s sport(s) or position(s). This includes speed, power, strength, endurance, agility and mobility. It’s important to note that these areas develop at different rates. 

  >> Mental Skills — this is the mental toughness and winning mind-set required by your child to excel in your sport, at academics and in life. This includes resilience, focus, confidence, the ability to perform under pressure and motivation driven by passion and a “love of the game.” 

  >> Technical Skills — these are the general and sport-specific motor skills, or techniques that need to be developed by your child (e.g. passing, running, jumping, catching and throwing).

  >> Tactical Skills — understanding the X’s and O’s of your role, event or sport. In team sports such as basketball, baseball, football, softball, lacrosse and water polo players need to learn offensive and defensive formations. 

  >> Lifestyle Skills — this is your child’s ability to achieve balance and to manage the challenges of academics, life and sport. It’s the “off the field” stuff. This includes their ability to manage themselves, their workload, social media and sleep.

These six cogs are all skills because they can be learned and are not something set in stone. Typically young performers and parents tend to over emphasize the importance of the technical, tactical and physical skills — especially after the formative years. Parents need to ensure they work on developing an “elite” performance culture and their kids cultivate excellent mental and lifestyle skills.

These six skills do not live in a vacuum and each cog affects another cog. For example, we know from research that regardless of how physically, technically, and tactically talented your child is, if the performance culture you provide for your child is too challenging or not challenging enough they will stop playing sport or studying hard. 

Every child is different. Where do you think your child’s performance strengths and development needs really lie?

Fine-tuning performance to help a child reach their maximum potential is not achieved through “five easy steps” or with one fell swoop. It is a process that requires a thorough understanding of all of the various components that encompass success. KPA Elite Performance is an invaluable resource for sport parents who are completely committed to doing whatever is necessary to ensure their child does not leave any potential on the table

 or a more comprehensive explanation of this model head over to KPA Elite online.

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