Champions thrive in small towns

March 5th, 2009 - 3:21 pm ICT by ANI  

Melbourne, Mar 5 (ANI): When it comes to producing elite female athletes, small towns excel in nurturing the best talent compared to big cities, says a new research.
In the Australian-Canadian study, involving American-born female athletes playing in the Ladies Professional Golf Association and the Women’’s United Soccer Association, researchers looked at their place of birth.
They found about 57 pct of all adolescents were born in cities with a population less than 500,000.
Almost 85pct of professional female golfers and about 80pct of professional female soccer players were born in these less-dense communities.
The figures revealed while 26pct of females were born in cities of less than 50,000 population, 38pct were professional female golfers and 40pct of were professional female soccer players.
Study co-author Professor Bruce Abernethy, of the Institute of Human Performance at the University of Hong Kong revealed that place of birth is unlikely to be key in developing sports expertise, rather it is “a proxy for describing different types of developmental environments, experiences and opportunities”.
“It is much easier to be the best 13-year-old hockey player if you are living in a town with a population in the thousands, then it is in Sydney or New York,” ABC Online quoted Abernethy as saying.
“If you have early success it changes your self-concept - you believe you have talent,” he added.
This is because the talented regional athlete is picked in all the representative teams, and also gets more attention from coaches.
Moreover, their success encourages them to practice more, which boosts their skills.
In contrast, according to Abernethy, an equally talented child living in the city will be in the middle ranks of their sport so will not get the same attention or develop the same self-concept.
“Smaller communities provide an environment that allows children a greater amount of independent mobility and physical safety,” Abernethy said.
“When coupled with an abundance of space to play, these factors may facilitate diverse types of sport participation, a characteristic associated with the acquisition of sport expertise,” he added.
Abernethy said that young athletes in country areas, because of less safety concerns, are not dependent on parents” supervision to practice. This allows them take “deliberate play”, which is unstructured play that develops innovative skills they later use in their sports. (ANI)

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