By Tim Bradbury, Director of Coaching Instruction
If this were the title of a new CD by Snow Patrol I think we would rightly be excited and looking forward to the download date.
Unfortunately, when it is the words that best describe the youth soccer environment that player’s players and parents have to wade through, all those that care about the future of the game should be concerned. I understand that most people want short cuts and that we live in a culture of "I want it now." Having studied the works of Jean Piaget and read his description of the American issue, I understand that most of us are constantly searching for a way to get to number "1" by finding the best shortcut.
My understanding of the issues has been extended after recently reading "BOUNCE" by Matthew Sayed. Sayed's brilliant book looks at the talent myth and presents a wonderful case using Tiger Woods, the Williams sisters, his own table tennis exploits as well as Mia Hamm and Messi to mention but a few, to state the simple truth that with 10,000 hours plus of intense, deliberate practice performed at the right time with the guidance of the right coach, we can all become great. There are no short cuts you have to do the work and go through the steps and leagues to get to play at a high level. One of the lasting issues of US Soccer's decision to allow several governing bodies within the youth game has been the proliferation of Premier leagues. The number of coaches that have seized the chance to be able to say we are in a Premier league, we are therefore a Premier team is astounding. We need to be honest just because it is called a Premier league does not necessarily make it one! If playing in the mainstream (along with the majority of the teams playing in an ENYYSA sanctioned league) you were a division three team you do not become Premier by simply moving to another league with the word Premier somewhere in the title. I hear you saying "Tim calm down, well what is the problem?" To make it plain and simple, as for myself the issue is clear, my problems with so many Premier leagues and the affects they are having are as follows:
1. Coaches and parents are jumping leagues simply to be able to say we are premier. This impulsiveness misleads the players and encourages the shortcut culture.
2. Players and parents jump from team to team looking for a real premier team, so many of the positive social aspects of being on a team are lost.
3. By misleading our players with what is the real standard, we give them a false impression of how much real effort is needed to get to play at the highest level.
4. By distributing the better players within each age group into so many different leagues the overall standard is dropping. One key ingredient for high level soccer is that the most competitive players get to play together.
5. One consequence of the confusion of what really is "Premier"? becomes that teams play in multiple leagues? This drastic increase in number of games played comes at the expense of less training. This hurts player development. It also lowers the standard of play in all of the "premier leagues" since the talent pool is now spread out across multiple leagues.
6. We are misleading our players. Coaching is a form of teaching and I believe the old saying to be true; ‘it is the most noble of professions.’ How can we lie to and mislead our players? I am certain that the number of premier leagues, select programs and academies will continue to grow and the consequence of this expansion will continue to lower standards and disappoint players and parents.
The answer then, and the growth of the game, lies in the hands of the coaches and parents. I ask that you research and understand the issues stated above and that most importantly you stop chasing short cuts that are false.
Jean Piaget (French: [??~ pja??]; 9 August 1896 – 16 September 1980) was a Swiss developmental psychologist and philosopher known for his epistemological studies with children. His theory of cognitive development and epistemological view are together called "genetic epistemology".
Piaget placed great importance on the education of children. As the Director of the International Bureau of Education, he declared in 1934 that "only education is capable of saving our societies from possible collapse, whether violent, or gradual."
Matthew Syed (born 2 November 1970) is a British journalist and broadcaster. He used to be an English table tennis international, and was the English number one for many years. He was three times the Men's Singles Champion at the Commonwealth Table Tennis Championships (in 1997, 2000 and 2001), and also competed for Great Britain in two Olympic Games.
Bounce: How Champions Are Made by Matthew Syed - Professionelle