#parent | #kids | Don’t Let Quarantine Weaken Your Sporty Kid’s Competitive Edge

ON MARCH 12, one day after NBA commissioner Adam Silver suspended the season due to Covid-19 concerns, Matt Toder received a similar notice from the director of his second-grade son’s soccer league: All games and practices for the spring season were on hold until further notice.
Mr. Toder, a video producer in Brooklyn, had hoped Nathan might see the field come summer, but weeks have turned into months. Now, with a return to schools this fall looking dubious for millions of American kids, many youth sports leagues are likely done for 2020. Parents are looking for ways to keep their young athletes’ skill levels up so they can return to turfs and courts next year without having squandered their competitive edge—or even better than ever.
In the absence of face-to-face coaching, Mr. Toder bought his son a DribbleUp smart soccer ball (from $100, dribbleup.com), which syncs to a phone to track his son’s moves and stats in real time. Alternatively, via a connected tablet, his son can take aim at virtual targets or join live and on-demand classes with pro trainers and compete in online drills against fellow athletes.
“Like any other skill, you learn through repetition,” Mr. Toder said. “Touches on the ball at home aren’t the same as touches in a game, but you’re not going to get better at the latter without intense practice at the former.”
Nothing can replace in-person contact or a real-life competitive environment, said Adam Rosante, a certified trainer and youth-exercise specialist who runs “Gym Class With Adam,” a series of free YouTube workouts aimed at grade schoolers currently stuck at home. “But virtual practice sessions and at-home tools and technology have the potential to give kids similar benefits.”

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