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What does quality coaching look like?

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What does quality coaching look like?

Steve Locker Speaks at the  Independent Schools Association of the Central States (ISACS)  convention, November 4th, 2016.

Steve Locker Speaks at the Independent Schools Association of the Central States (ISACS) convention, November 4th, 2016.

Steve Locker was recently invited to the Independent Schools Association of the Central States (ISACS) convention to speak about coaching and its importance in the development of children in today’s schools. Continuing our theme, we will give those of you who didn’t have a chance to attend the convention last week some insight into the meaningful discussions regarding childhood development that occurred. Read our last post on what good coaches and teachers have in common, or continue below for a discussion of what quality coaching looks like.

What does quality coaching look like?

In many United States schools, athletics takes a close second to academics, but while teachers are required to complete multiple levels of intensive education and continued development, many coaches are merely volunteers recruited by athletic directors. Both teachers and coaches have an intimate relationship with student and athlete success and development, so how do we address this disparity in experience and preparation?

Good coaches share many traits of good teachers; they support growth of confidence, life skills, hard work, passionate involvement, and most of all, they support creating a culture of improvement and development. The culture a coach creates is a vital component of athletic success.

Athletes must be able to develop:

  • Risk Taking
  • Hard Work Habits
  • Abilities to overcome adversity

Kids must be allowed to take risks within the game and in practice, without fear of negative feedback. Without the chance to take risks and fail, they will not develop the skills to take those same risks and succeed. Further, kids should be rewarded for hard work and effort, encouraging passionate and personal involvement. Finally, kids should be provided with the tools and guidance to overcome adverse situations, whether that be a stronger team, negative situation, or classroom challenges.

Communication with the kids and other parties involved can address issues before they arise. Are your goals in alignment with your players? With the athletic department goals? With the parents? Communicating your expectations, from practice involvement to parental support (or lack thereof) will create an open environment that sets your kids up for a successful development culture.

Finally, is the game an educational opportunity? Or, just an opportunity to win? Respecting the game is an important consideration for coaching kids. Bending the rules, encouraging overly physical play, disrespecting officials, and weighting a win too heavily all hamper a coach’s ability to effectively develop healthy and successful players.

Quality coaching takes forethought and effort, but shares many of the skills and techniques a successful teacher will implement. It is our responsibility to create a culture where players can develop effectively.

Steve Locker pulls upon over 30 years of experience from collegiate coaching, professional playing, and children’s development to apply advanced soccer coaching, educational insight, and coaching education to organizations of any type. Steve can help your organization span the gap between coaching and teaching, or to develop a positive and age appropriate coaching environment.

- Steve Locker

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The Innovation Era: The Convergence of Educational & Athletic Approaches

Can you become an advocate for allowing children to have fun in sports?

Because we have such easy access to information, the Knowledge Economy is no longer relevant when discussing the best way to prepare our children for the world which they will enter. This new era, where we can access information at the tip of our computers (or smartphones), doesn’t require us to learn things like we used to. Times have changed.

Instead of sitting in a classroom and having knowledge crammed into our heads, this new era requires us to be creative problem solvers, collaborators, highly motivated and good communicators. That’s right….if you want to get ahead in our new culture, you need to be an adaptive, team player.

In a recent talk, Tony Wagner (Expert In Residence at Harvard University’s new Innovation Lab and a Senior Research Fellow at the Learning Policy Institute) spoke about the environment that we must put our children into to help prepare them to meet the new challenges that they will face when going out into our “new” world. Tony was talking about our educational system. Interestingly, as I listened to Tony, one thing struck me in a very pointed way; Tony was using the same terminology that we use in athletics when discussing player development.

If you take a look at New Technology High School (Napa, CA) and High Technology High School (Middletown, NJ) you will see an environment where Project-based learning, small class sizes and personal relationships with instructors create an environment in which students are responsible for their own learning.

The key word here is environment. In Tony’s model, there are no scores. It’s about mastery. Working together to learn how to create and solve. Wow, that sounds a lot like how I coach soccer! In fact, Tony pointed out that teachers are a lot like coaches.

If the push is on to create highly adaptive young citizens, what lessons can we take from all of this as it pertains to athletics? Everyone is aware that our youth sports culture is wildly dysfunctional. Too much parental involvement, too much focus on results, the belief that specialization will lead to greater success in one chosen sport.

I received a call the other day from a parent coach who said he was struggling with his parents doing too much coaching from the sidelines during games. He mentioned having two children walk off the field, crying, and refused to re-enter the game because they were too frustrated with all of the parents yelling instructions.

As I examined the learning environment at New Tech High and witnessed the group projects taking place, I tried to imagine parents coming into the classroom and start telling the kids what to do. It seems so absurd. What would a teacher do if a parent came into the classroom and started giving their child (or other children) instructions on how to complete a task? It’s bad enough that the “Helicopter Parents” have taken flight, but I hope we never see the day when parents show up to school and start coaching their kids in the classroom.

Playing sports is about having fun. If parents feel the need to “joystick” their children through an athletic performance, think about that from the perspective of the child.

When parents are asked what they want for their children through athletic participation, they have lots of good answers. “Make friends”, “learn a skill”, “stay healthy”, all very worthy goals. The parent paradox, however, is anything but healthy. We say one thing, but our behavior completely belies us.

In my ideal coaching environment, we would err on the side of “under coaching”, not “over coaching”. The environment would consist of small numbers, to help ensure that children get lots of repetitions and the opportunity to make lots of decisions. Playing sports is about having fun. If parents feel the need to “joystick” their children through an athletic performance, think about that from the perspective of the child. Do you really think they are enjoying themselves? What exactly are they learning?

As a parent, I must be able to see that my constant direction giving is cheating my child out of the opportunity to learn.

Malcolm Gladwell has the Ten Thousand Hour Rule. He asserts that to truly become proficient at something, you must work at it for 10,000 hours. Makes sense! One question, though….what is it that would make someone work for that many hours on a skill? Malcolm does not address motivation.

Intrinsic motivation is the secret. Tony Wagner knows it and I know it. (I spoke about it last year in my TEDx Talk.) Unless an individual is growing passion and love for something, they will not have the intrinsic motivation to work at it and become proficient. This is another area that we parents struggle with. Too often, we want to be the motivators. It doesn’t work that way.

I am an advocate for collaboration, teamwork. I am an advocate for problem solving, risk taking, mistake making. If we don’t make mistakes, we are not learning. I am an advocate for hard work. Can you become an advocate for allowing children to have fun in sports?

- Steve Locker

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What Do Good Teachers and Good Coaches Have in Common?

ISACS Convention Recap - Part 1

I was recently invited to the Independent Schools Association of the Central States (ISACS) convention to speak about coaching and its importance in the development of children in today’s schools. The next two posts of this series will give those of you who didn’t have a chance to attend the convention last week some insight into the meaningful discussions regarding childhood development that occurred. The first talk compares the traits necessary to be a good coach and a good teacher and the second gives you a window into what good coaching should look like.

The theme of the second day of the convention was preparing our children for the Innovation Era. An era where traditional college degrees and information gained is not as important as creative problem solving, entrepreneurship, the ability to work collaboratively and desire or passion necessary to solve today’s challenges (Tony Wagner: Preparing Kids for the Innovation Era).

Those of you that have been following my blog, success at Locker Soccer Academy and my speaking endeavors (Steve’s TEDx Talk: Youth Sports: The Fast Lane to Retirement) will notice a similarity in childhood development philosophies. They are both based on a solid foundation of FUN.

This foundation inspires children to develop an intrinsic passion which in turn will lead to the proper development of traits and skills, like the ability to overcome adversity or resilience. These skills are developed through overcoming failures and are motivated from within rather than from outside forces like those seen in a traditional educational system.

So what do good teachers and good coaches have in common? They create an environment that is conducive to FUN, positive, challenging, honest, caring and strives for excellence. These environments may differ depending on the sport or the age group of children a teacher or a coach is tasked with leading, but the children should take away things such as improved decision-making skills, confidence, empathy, curiosity, and persistence. Great teachers and coaches help empower kids through play, inspiring passion, and developing purpose. These are the environments and traits necessary for our children to discover their real interests, understand the value of depth of knowledge rather than breadth, develop real skills and be able to adapt those skills to any situation.

The Knowledge Economy has come and gone and the Innovation Era, whether we like it or not it is upon us. It is our duty as teachers, coaches and parents to prepare our children to succeed.

- Steve Locker

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Is Your League Following A Good Development Model?

youthcamp

As a parent or a coach you have seen the the practice sessions where coaches run out of ideas after about 30 minutes, so they instinctively turn to playing a one ball scrimmage. In many recreational leagues parents let it slide and think to themselves, "well they have to play a game at some point, so getting some experience in that type of setting is probably a good thing." But, there are real reasons why coaches shouldn't resort to playing a one ball scrimmage at practices. Are your league directors and coaches following a proven development model? If not Second Nature Sports can help. Our training plans give coaches 8-weeks of full practice plans that will guide them through each and every practice in a developmentally focused manner.

In this week's blog our friends at PCA give us a brief overview of why children under the age of 12 shouldn't be playing your traditional 11v11 one ball games, especially in practice.

Chris Arndt
Director
Second Nature Sports


PCA National Advisory Board Member Jay Coakley (@SiSCoakley) is Professor Emeritus of sociology at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs. He has done 40 years of research on connections between sports, culture and society, much of that focused on the play, games and sport participation of young people. His Sports in Society: Issues and Controversies(11th edition) is the world's most widely used sports sociology text.

In this video, Coakley describes why youth sports needs to be simplified for children under 12 years of age. He states that, “prior to the age of 12, kids are not socially and cognitively ready to play complex team games.” Research shows that children under the age of 8 can only take on one role at a time. So for sports like soccer, where there are 10 teammates, a soccer ball, and coaches, it is difficult for children to understand all of these roles simultaneously.

Since we cannot expect children under the age of 12 to truly understand these complex concepts, Coakley recommends that instead of putting children in a complex game they do not understand, we should:

  • Simplify game models
  • Change the dimensions of the fields to fit the size of the children playing
  • Cut the size of teams so that all children can get more touches, opportunities to pass, and opportunities to score

A link to the original post can be found here.

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