Role of Free Play in Developing Athletes


In children free play is all about testing boundaries and pushing limits – there is no fear rather there is pure joy of discovery and enjoyment. There are no rules, at least prescribed by adults; they make up their own rules as they go along and they change frequently. Through unstructured free play they learn the wisdom of their bodies through exploration. It is unsupervised improvisation. They figure it out. So-called experts have questioned this – the concern is that will learn bad habits and poor technique. My answer is that this is the foundation. Kids at beginning ages do not need to be taught skills in a formal manner, they learn through discovery, through solving movement problems. The best athlete development strategy is to reintroduce recess with playground equipment so they can – jump, run, throw, lift push, pull, and play tag – JUST PLAY! There is plenty of time to teach skills lets let them experience the pure joy of movement. Free play is the basis of long-term athlete development because it will provide the foundation for an anti-fragile adaptable athlete ready to play any sport they choose.

Vern Gambetta

Vern Gambetta

Director at Gambetta Sports Training Systems
Vern is the Director of Gambetta Sports Training Systems. He has been the a conditioning coach for several MLS teams as well as the conditioning consultant to the US Men's World Cup Soccer team. Vern is the former Director of Conditioning for the Chicago White Sox and New York Mets. He has lectured and conducted clinics in Canada, Japan, Australia and Europe and has authored six books and over one hundred articles related to coaching and sport performance in a variety of sports. He has a BA in teaching with a coaching minor and an MA in Education with an emphasis in physical education from Stanford University.
Vern Gambetta


Athletic Development Coach & Consultant. Founder of GAIN Network. Proud dad. Love to read everything.
RT @GreatestQuotes: Your aspirations are your possibilities. - Samuel Johnson - 4 years ago
Vern Gambetta

Latest posts by Vern Gambetta (see all)


Comments are closed.