“We can be absolutely certain only about things we do not understand.”
Eric Hoffer (social philosopher)
Parents and coaches who deem it important for their child/athlete to be successful perform research allowing them to create the best environment for passion and development to take place. In the information age of the internet, this process should be simplified but except for a small percentage of people, this type of research gathering and learning does not happen.
As the quote at the top of the post from Eric Hoffer states, “We can be absolutely certain only about things we do not understand” magnifies the problems found in youth sports today. Parents and coaches believe they are experts prior to performing research as to what is the best environment for the young athlete to participate. Since these folks do not have a full understanding about what youth sports are attempting to accomplish, they can be absolutely certain their opinions are the truth. As the saying goes, ignorance is bliss. Many youth sport clubs survive off of this mantra until the families have had enough of the lies and false promises or the player simply loses interest.
Unfortunately, leaders within youth sports fall prey to this type of belief system as well. Until an individual understands that creating a positive, fun, and developmental environment are the reasons for participation and how young athletes grow; society will continue creating extrinsic oriented athletes that are not task oriented but focused upon being better then the person next to them. As Tony Dungy states from an earlier post, “success is about being as good as you can possibly be.” Notice comparisons to other athletes do not deem success.
Constant attempts at personal improvement within a culture of development and fun should be the expectation for youth sports. If in ten years research is performed that says players develop in the best manner by focusing on winning trophies, being yelled at by coaches and parents, and scrimmaging for two hours each training session, adjustments within my coaching mannerisms would have to take place. This will not be the case but it certainly does not stop coaches from performing these outdated customs.
Research and proof should drive decisions. The driving force for coaches and parents should never include “because that is how I did it when I was a kid.” Times have changed, research has been conducted and ignorance can no longer be an excuse for poor coaching and parenting practices.
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