Development principles for youth sailing
Published on June 15th, 2021
As the Director of Sport Development at US Sailing, John Pearce gets it. He understands that youth sailing is about developing skills and the love of sailing, and not necessarily in that order. He understands that retention should be a buzz word in junior programs, rather than accepting attrition as a fact of youth sports.
Pursuing top youth regatta results does not translate to building the next generation of adult sailors, but rather fostering the curiosity that keeps us coming back. However, it is hard for well-meaning parents and coaches to avoid measuring progress by competition performance, and that is where we tend to go wrong.
In this report by Pearce, he offers some direction for Summer 2021:
After pausing for most of 2020, youth racing is roaring back to life in 2021. As the fog clears and sailors get back out on the racecourse this season, there are many great events to choose from.
Sailors should look at a range of options when planning their racing schedule, including club and local racing, youth sailing circuits organized by regional associations, and national events organized by US Sailing and One Design Class Associations.
Talk to local sailors about the “don’t miss” regattas in your region, and go to US Sailing’s One Design Central website to get connected to all of the action in various One Design Classes.
Before diving into the 2021 event highlights, I also want to make sure to remind youth sailors, coaches, and parents of a few overarching development principles:
• Add variety to your sailing – You’ll learn faster if you try different types of boats, different crew positions, and sail with and against adults. Check out this article for more details on why it is important to Get Out of Your Comfort Zone This Summer!
• Balance practice and regatta time – Don’t get me wrong, regattas are great! You get to compete, see your friends, and visit new sailing locations. BUT, practice makes perfect. Athlete development experts recommend spending roughly 70 percent of your time practicing, and 30 percent competing. Before you pack your summer calendar with back-to-back regattas, make sure you are giving yourself a chance to practice (and relax) between regattas. Check out the USOPC’s American Development Model for more training best practices.
• Always be learning – Anytime you are sailing, it is an opportunity to learn and improve. It doesn’t have to be a structured practice or regatta; messing around with a few friends or cruising on your own is big part of learning. Make sure to keep this same attitude at regattas. Winning a race is great, but learning, improving, and having fun are even more important in the long run. Check out this video from Luther Carpenter, Head Coach of the US Sailing Team, about how to Own Your Training and always be learning.
For the top five USA youth events not to miss, click here.