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Edition #227: What If How We Are Doing It Is Wrong?
Improvement comes from striving to do better. Doing better does not mean doing the same as always been.
Welcome to edition #227 of The Physical Movement.
In today’s world, there is a lot of power to the perspective of questioning how things are done. Striving to improve, the very essence of what we teach to our young athletes, should also be a mantra for parents, coaches and volunteers in youth sport.
In June of 2022, The Physical Movement published an article outlining 2 critical mistakes in training young people. In the article, we tapped into hall of fame coach Mike Boyle for his input, and his perspective of questioning how things are done as a path to improvement. *see below for full copy.
In essence, we have 2 choices:
Do things the way they have always been done or question what if the way we always did it was wrong?
In youth sport, the declining participation rates across multiple sports might indicate that the way things are done today are wrong.
Of course, to take this position we make ourselves vulnerable and can’t be scared of what the answer might be.
In the spirit of evaluating how things are done, let’s ask what if the way they always do it is wrong?
One of the quotes Coach Boyle brings up:
“All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.”
Let’s examine some key components to youth sport today (ages 8-14) and ask the question:
1. In major metropolitan areas, travel out of region has become the norm in youth sport competition. What if this was the wrong way to go?
The proponents of regular out of region tournaments and league games against teams that are a 2 -3 hour drive away would say that this is a great test of competition. Opposing viewpoints might say, what could you accomplish closer to home?
· Lower costs
· Increased access
· Higher participation rates?
· More time playing.
With more participants, more accessibility, and lower costs, competition would go up. If we eliminated or reduced travel time to increase skill development and improve physical fitness, would the outcome not be better?
It is not uncommon in today’s youth sport for parents to shuttle kids 1 hour each way for 1 hour of competition. That is a lot of sitting around. What if there was a better way?
2. For those under 14:
The current climate has a very high amount of games, and low amount of practice time. Change the ratio of games to practice will allow for more touches , more skill development, more mini games , more of what the kids want = fun.
More fun means more participation and participation for longer periods of time.
What if more and more games was not the best way to improve the youth sport experience?
3. The increased costs of participation, due to high number of games and travel mean fundraising is essential for many organizations.
What if time spent fundraising turned to community giving?
Instead of trying to raise the $3,000-$10,000 per athlete to play on the AA 9 and under soccer team, what if that effort was put forth to contribute back to the community?
· Time at the local food bank?
· Visits to senior’s homes to lead activities or to homes were chores are a problem : leaf raking or snow shoveling dates.
· Children hospital visits
Teaching the art of giving back not only makes a contribution, and improves perspective but also bonds young athletes together and teaches life skills.
After all, youth athletes are athletes in the community. What if there was a better way than asking athletes and parents to collect bottles at a bottle drive to spend on hotels and gas money?
4. Reduce sport specialization opportunities by mixing in complimentary sport participation into the program. Integrate lead up soccer games for hockey, baseball, basketball , volleyball and other athletes. The crossover benefits would be massive, as would the development of the skills critical to all sports: Hand eye coordination, agility, reaction time, balance, power, speed , motor coordination to name a few. These components crossover and improve performance in the priority sport.
What if sport specialization not only impeded development, but led to increase in injuries and decline in participation?
5. Integrate movement skill training for everyone under 13. Movement training is just that, the development of motor skills critical to safe and efficient movement. Those under 13 should work on skipping, changing direction, jumping, throwing, catching, rolling, crawling and all the other basic movement patterns to be able to competently play any sport. These skills are getting forgotten in today’s age and we are pushing kids into sports without these basic skills.
For those over 14, Integrate strength training standards and accreditation for all youth organizations. Bring back standards to aspire to for basic strength and conditioning. These were common years ago and would ensure base levels of physical preparedness for any sport.
Moving kids into sport competition without basic movement skills and capacity is wrong.
6. Tap into community corporate sponsorship to further ease the burden on finance for families while improvement standards of care at each competition. Every competition should have basic emergency medical care on hand. There are many local companies that would love to be a part of ensuring safety on the playing field for all.
Not having medical care at youth sporting events is wrong, and it should not be another expense to families.
What if the way we always do it is wrong?