Steve Roush is the former Chief of Sport Performance for the United States Olympic Committee. In that role he oversaw a record medal count for Team USA at the Beijing Olympics. Currently he works as a senior sports performance consultant for TSE Consulting. In this role he advises sports organizations and governmental agencies in improving elite athlete performance by providing strategic advice in areas such as: Athlete Development Pipeline, High Performance Planning, Olympic Games preparation consultation and Evaluation of sports performance systems. Having worked with federations and governments of many countries across the globe, Steve is in a good position to see what works and what doesn’t in sports organizations. I had a chance to talk with him recently about these points. Read more
At any given level of sport, the most talented athlete at that level will get lots of praise. The trouble with judging talent is that what makes one person more talented at each level is subject to change. Here is why talent is important but not the most important factor for furthering success. Read more
Earlier in the week we posted part one of a training talk with Dave Tenney, the Sports Science and Performance Manager for Seattle Sounders FC. In the first part we focussed on his philosophy on sports-specific training and how he implements that in training. In this final part we continue the discussion and also dive into topics like individualization, and both the state of the sport and the role of strength and conditioning in it. Read more
We are effectively working hard to destroy a generation of children by what we are doing and not doing to them in the name of education. The headline in our local paper last Sunday was: Mandatory Cramming – Students and Schools are anxiously bracing for this years vast array of tests. Is there any relief in sight? Read more
It is one thing to say that young athletes are not miniature adults and then to turn around and treat them as miniature adults by imposing adult training, competition and practice schedules on them. They are young and still developing and need to be treated as such. We need to get away from emphasizing where they will be, their future potential, there is time for that later, put the focus on where they are now and build upon that. Develop them so they have mastery of fundamental movements and fundamental sport skills acquired through play. Read more
In children free play is all about testing boundaries and pushing limits – there is no fear rather there is pure joy of discovery and enjoyment. There are no rules, at least prescribed by adults; they make up their own rules as they go along and they change frequently. Through unstructured free play they learn the wisdom of their bodies through exploration. It is unsupervised improvisation. They figure it out. Read more
Where we are today in youth sport today with the “pay to play” model did not happen overnight. This post is meant give some historical context for why we are where we are today. This is excerpted from my new book that I am working on called “Developing Athletes.”
1969 when I started coaching was probably the height of the school based sport system in the US. For many reasons into the 1970’s and definitely by the early 1980’s much changed. Perhaps the biggest change was the gradual erosion of the mandatory daily physical requirement in the schools. There was more time devoted to academic subjects. The first subjects cut were physical education, then arts, then music and then theater arts because they were deemed non-academic. With cuts in physical education there were no longer jobs for specialist physical education teachers, consequently fewer and fewer PE teachers where hired. This quickly affected sports coaching, as the physical education teachers who had been the pool of sport coaches had their jobs eliminated. Schools now had to go outside the faculty to hire coaches. Many of these coaches had no background in pedagogy or any actual coaching experience; it was not long before a noticeable drop off in the quality of coaching in the schools occurred. In addition there was little continuity in the coaching from year to year because coaching stipends were minimal. Certainly it was not long before you began to see the effects in the young developing athlete. Those teachers that had entered the profession on completion of their schooling through the GI Bill were retiring and were not replaced as they retired. Over the forty plus years since I started coaching we have arrived at the point where today only two states have mandatory K-12 physical education and that requirement is somewhat watered down. In sports we are at the point where the majority of coaches in the schools are not faculty members. This has many implications that I will go into detail on later.
This resulted in the rise of outside sport teams that began in the late 1980’s grew in the 1990’s and has exploded in the new millennium. In basketball, baseball, soccer, softball, volleyball, lacrosse and to some extent track & Field and swimming sports outside the schools has taken precedence. Competition is no longer local but national in scope. Seasons are extended to mimic adult competition seasons with youngsters as young as 12 years old playing 100 plus baseball games a year, competing for national championships and youth world championships.
Trophy chasing and medal hunting at young ages is frivolous at best and harmful to the long-term development of the athletes. Child champions and age group record holders do not have a good track record of long-term success. Undue emphasis on results gives the youngster and their entourage a distorted sense of their actual abilities, value and self worth, which seems to stifle the desire to keep working to improve. Read more
In developing young athletes it is one thing to say that children are not miniature adults and then to turn around and treat them as miniature adults by imposing adult competition and practice schedules on children. They are children and need to be treated as such. We need to get away from the emphasis on where they will be, their future potential, there is time for that later, put focus on where they are now and build upon that. Read more
The 2020 Olympians are 14 to 18 years old and the 2024 Olympians are 10 to 14 years old right now. For me that is cause for alarm. Why? Sport does exist independent of society it reflects society. We are a hypokinetic society characterized by exercise deficit disorder. Look around at these age groups and what do you see? You see kids who lack basic physical competencies who are overweight and sedentary. On the other end you see kids who are overspecialized and ready to flameout. We need to wakeup and address this now not to produce Olympians but to have a healthy society. Take a look at these statistics and ask yourself where future Olympians are coming from? Read more