Tuesday, April 2, 2013

How the soccer community will make LTPD work

Before LTPD can bear its intended fruit, a lot of things need to happen.  And the various sports federations have nothing to do with it.

Everybody is weighing in on how effective LTPD will be.  These are my opinions and not representative of my club, employers or any governing soccer federation or association. You always have to add the disclosure.

(N.B.  I returned to this point after re-reading the list.  It's exactly what we expect and demand from our teachers and school system ... yet we think our child needs to be taught differently when it comes to sports) 

I enjoyed myself under the old system, but there were a lot of frustrations.  And the more I learned about soccer, development and coaching, the more frustrated I became.

OK, here we go.

We all need to be patient.  LTPD will take time, so don't start a petition to  repeal the philosophy after Canada's next loss.

We need to trust the people up the ladder who have done their homework, and, as well, do our own homework to increase our understanding and become better coaches and parents under this philosophy.

While we don't have empirical evidence that our new structure will work, we have to admit we have a heck of a lot of evidence that what we do now doesn't work.  By the way, LTPD is based on methods already in place in successful sporting countries, so it's not without field testing.

Learn the difference between individual success and winning.

We have to admit that a paradigm shift was needed because the old system was "tweaked" many times with the same results.

We have to accept that some people will have doubts and we need to work to educate and share information, not criticize or demonize.

We have to admit that children are not small adults.  Mentally and physically, they are different creatures. They don't share our values.

We need to work together and be creative when it comes to a club funding the possible purchase of new goals and equipment for the different stages.

"...the more I learned about soccer, development and coaching, the more frustrated I became."

We have to remember that most sports were designed for adults to play.  What can be adjusted should be adjusted for different ages and development stages.

We have to admit that what we were doing in the past is not producing the player retention and quality that we want.

We have to admit that the environment that currently exists contributes to players, coaches, officials and
volunteers quitting.

We have to admit that our players, in general, have been more robotic than athletic or creative.

We have to admit that our children are less athletic and active than in the past.  Physical literacy is a problem that transcends organized sport.

We have to admit that our system encouraged coaches to coach teams rather than coach players.

We want our coaches to be better educated in knowing who they are working with, in terms of development stages.

We have to stop beginning every argument with "when I was a kid .... ".

We have to learn to look past the score and recognize and acknowledge good ideas and moments during games.

We have to admit that our children will keep score, whether there is a scoreboard or not.  And we will all celebrate every goal and "oooooohhhhh" every time a shot goes wide of the net.  The game's intensity, emotions will all be there, like they always were.

Every game, we need the two coaches and referee to work together in teaching our young players.

We have to admit that other countries have effective methods in developing their young athletes.

We have to admit that developing an athlete requires a holistic approach ....  physical, technical, tactical, emotional, social and mental development.

We have to acknowledge that far too many talented players were discarded by travel coaches for being too small before 12/13 years old.

We have to admit it will be easier to coach when we are able to patiently work with our younger players without the pressure of standings, stakeholder expectations and crazy recruiting.

We have to stop saying that it's important for a 9-year-old to "learn how to lose" and needs "life lessons".  What we teach them now is how to go into a "big game" without having enough of a fundamental foundation, and being expected to produce a quality game.

We have to admit that freedom of expression, ideas and decisions are important facets to a child developing as a player.

We have to admit that formal competition and development are conflicting philosophies.  Neither is a sin, but they don't co-exist well when there are points up for grabs.

We have to admit that the parameters of the game must change to reflect the development stage of the player.

We have to remember that our training session should match the physical and mental characteristics of the players in the session.

We have to appreciate that the better the environment at sports, the longer they will play the more confident our children will be outside of sports.

Since coaches have great influence on our children, we want to give them the tools, information, structure and environment to help them have as positive an effect as possible.

We have to appreciate that fewer players quitting means more older children being active in the recreation stream, more players available for our elite streams, more future coaches and officials and a healthier Canada.

We have to appreciate that an increase in retention in every sport translates into an increased number of families involved, further translating into a position to influence government spending and recognition for the need for continued growth/maintenance in recreation facilities and programs.

I look forward to LTPD moving forward.  My level of interest comes from being a coach for 25 years, a sports parent for 15 years and a player since I was 6 years old.  My other reason for learning all I can about LTPD is that I felt it was a VERY bold move for 59 different Canadian sports to introduce this paradigm shift in coaching and development.

I know it's a little bit of preaching, but that's my list ... so far.  Let's see where LTPD takes us.