Contemporary coaching challenges

This is an excerpt from my book Athletic Development: The Art & Science of Functional Sports Conditioning that I thought was particularly timely.

“We do not coach in a vacuum. Within our society we have some contemporary cultural, athletic, educational, and economic obstacles that coaches from past generations did not have to contend with. A colleague of mine, Steve Myrland, has identified and articulated these challenges. Within our culture: We sit too much. We are what we eat, and we eat too much resulting in a lethargic overweight society. We are a result-oriented society with little appreciation for the process, we want it now. Failure (at anything) has a social price tag attached to it. Boys will gladly demonstrate proficiency; but will often quit before having to reveal deficiency. Girls often fear success if it places them “apart.”  Girls must try to resolve the conflict of working to be strong, fit, and fast, and a social order that offers few rewards for these qualities.

Within the context of the athletic arena: We play to train; rather than train to play. We specialize before we develop athleticism and competitive maturity. We emphasize game-skills before and often to the exclusion of fundamental movement-skills. We evaluate before we teach (always trying to find the next prodigy). Physical Education isn’t physical, and it is not educational. In training and competition: We value quantity over quality, more is better. We are (generally) forced into a one-size-fits-all model of drills and exercises, even though one size never does fit all. Play has disappeared, if practice is not organized and there is not coach present, there is no practice. We prefer to watch rather than participate. In marketing health, fitness and sports: We are led to depend on “things” and on venues more than on athletes and coaches. Recognize that in the athletic arena the young athlete may have different goals than we have.”

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