Passing the Torch

As children develop they struggle with the competitive nature of athletics. Balance, agility, and coordination do not come easily to everyone. This can cause children to feel uncomfortable participating in healthy activities. Too often they say, “I don’t want to play," or "I'm not good at it,” and they sideline themselves for life. The truth is that with the right type of practices and drills we see all children improve in sports.

Team Sports
Two sports that are extremely beneficial to athletic development are soccer and gymnastics. Soccer teaches lower-body coordination and agility, and gymnastics teaches an awareness of body position and how to fall safely. When your child chooses another athletic passion, these skills will help them succeed.

Children's Competitive and Noncompetitive Programs
Bozeman’s rugged surroundings have drawn and developed a who’s-who of Olympians, World Cuppers, and accomplished mountain athletes. Many of these folks give back by passing the torch to young athletes in their sporting communities. Bozeman offers many competitive programs for children, who already have the fever.

The Bridger Ski Foundation Freestyle Team has an amazing program for the burgeoning skier. The coaches have competed on the U.S. Freestyle team and in World Cup competitions. The program teaches kids how to ski the entire mountain, not just the racecourse. A weekly dry-land ski conditioning class, aerials practice, and on-snow coaching are hallmarks of the program. Skiers can also participate in a Ridge Day, where a member of Bridger Ski patrol teaches avalanche awareness skills and everyone gets to ski the Ridge at Bridger Bowl. Grins are contagious when the kids know they've pushed each other to “Rip It!”

Watching and Studying
In a university town, the athletes, coaches, and researchers are also local resources for your developing athlete. About a month ago, I was at the university track for metabolic testing. While waiting for my associates, I was fortunate enough to witness the MSU track & field head coach teaching a few hurdle drills. Coach Kennedy’s philosophy was impressive, and seeing a college athlete focus and train is always empowering. I feel fairly certain that any college coach would welcome your interest and a scheduled visit to view a practice. When your children witness the speed, power, and skill of a mature athlete, they will appreciate where their own efforts can take them.

These are just a few examples of some resources in our community that offer ideas to spur interest in sport, improve athletic skills, and create a lifestyle of athletic involvement. One of the best values you can instill in your children is the enjoyment of physical activity.

Steve Conant is a founding partner of Alliance Sports Medicine, Inc., which offers a six-week Developmental Sport Conditioning class that helps reduce young athletes' risk of noncontact, severe joint injuries and helps them reach their athletic potential. For more information, visit