Unions warn: the poor condition of young people has consequences for major sports

Unions warn: the poor condition of young people has consequences for major sports

The fact that children sit too much and move too little is not only bad for their health, but also has consequences for higher sports. The Hockey Federation, the Tennis Federation, the Volleyball Federation and the Swimming Federation warned against this.

“We have been working on getting them fit for at least two years now. Only then can they start to think about the best sports,” says coach Robert Jan Lotijhuis of Tennis Park Amstelpark. According to him, there is not a huge shortage of talent, but there is a shortage of talent that meets the conditions to become one of the best players. Athlete. They come to us at a young age for training, but they also sit at a screen eight hours a day to play games or watch TV.”

At the end of September, figure skating coach and sports scientist Jack Urey already noted the poor condition of young people. According to Urey, their endurance has decreased, particularly in the long ski distances. Motor skills also deteriorated.

According to sports associations, children who grow up lag behind in various skills:

‘The poor condition of young people has consequences for major sport’

The four major sports federations share the concern. According to Joost van Geel of the Hockey League, the pool of talent is shrinking, which means that in the long run you’ll have fewer great talents to choose from. “If you go over a certain limit after a while, you’re going to have a problem.”

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According to Edwin Goodhart, MD, a national physician at KNVB, to get kids fit, it’s important to get them off the couch as quickly as possible. “You were born with a talent, but you also have to develop it and have a chance to do something with it. And particularly in those early years you learn how to use it well. You will miss it if you sit behind your laptop or sit behind your iPad.”

Goodhart emphasizes that it starts with playing abroad. “If you cut the lower branches of a tree so that children can’t climb in it, they won’t learn to climb and climb. This is one of the basic skills you learn in difficult situations.”


He sees that the risk of injuries among young people is increasing. “Because they are not used to jumping, falling or breaking a fall, they are more prone to injury than before. You can’t afford injuries in the best sports, because your career is so short. The age when you are really at the top level is not so high.”

According to Herman IJzerman, director of the Knowledge Center for Sports and Exercise, it’s still too early to say that top athletes won’t break through the competition anymore. Its Knowledge Institute is also organizing a Motor Skills Week next week. He believes that interest in fitness is good, but in relation to him there is more. He sees a clear decrease in the number of members of sports federations. “When skating, for example, this is very excessive. Since 2013, more than half of the members have quit. Then you as a guild are of course involved. It also means that you have fewer talents to choose from.”

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In the past Olympics, the Netherlands won no fewer than eight medals in athletics. However, athletics coach Guido Hartensfeld clearly sees a negative development. “Obviously the base level is going downhill. If we want to beat the East Africans, we just have to send school buses and e-bikes to Africa and build a McDonald’s there. Then we might have another chance.”

According to Hartensfield, the added value of top athletes should not be underestimated. “They are our idols, which young people look up to. If our idols disappear, I expect young people to move less.”

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