Developmental Saboteur

Personal response to the article: ‘IDENTIFYING AND WATCHING A DEVELOPMENTAL SABOTEUR’ Well written and sort of jaw dropping article that every coach has been guilty of at one time or another. The problem is that the USA sports system as a whole is obsessed with return on investment and visible/measurable “growth”. We want instant success, guarantees and promises right now; we better be able to check off boxes of improvement one by one; we need to see a word like premier or elite by our name, our club ranking needs to get higher season after season… if not- next year we’ll be at 3 different clubs @ three different tryouts to find the “best fit” or bigger ticket. The truth is that we WANT (the vast majority) “developmental saboteurs”- as parents/players/etc, the games new and mostly unknown; it’s because having a coach with a accent, pro background or looks the part makes them feel like their making a safe/solid investment; (and many times & more often than not it is!) parents want to be sold! I cannot begin to tell you the amount of times someone has come up to explaining why they did this or that. I never prompted these questions either; but it was like being a member of a jury or the type of person that I could gain any validity from. In reality only trying to justify it to themselves time and time again. Every big club in GA is centered around selling a “bigger vision” of success and potential college opportunities, they throw it up in bright lights & (sometimes) flashy propaganda on the front page of their website. They offer every camp, private speed, footwork, ball-mastery and elite individual training opportunity so long as the demand is there… season after season. A quick look at the stats and understanding of the law of large numbers would tell you that any club that has 1000+ players = almost any coach could send 5-10 (0.5%-1.0%) players on to play at the next level, theoretically if he was able to train them all throughout the entire process, it would be very difficult and nearly mathematically impossible not to. Some of that would happen regardless. All that being said… every situation is different, they’re are many coaches that do all of the above and have an immediate and tremendous impact on a player, and they’re are some that don’t. I refuse to believe there s a cookie cutter coach that’s perfect out there for everyone or models every element of the game and passes it off in the best and always most popular way, or most beneficial way. The main reason for this is (1) all players are motivated/learn differently– every coach they will ever have will bring some positive things to the table or perspective that another coach cannot (and visa-versa). (2) The ‘best or most beneficial way’ does not exist at all, the games constantly changing and soccer can’t be broken down into one correct magical formula- there is no ‘one way’… only good ways, better ways and the best ways. I’m not sure myself (or the article which fails to address any realistic solution at all, only vague problems and unproven opinions) have the answers on how it can or should be fixed, but I like how it was questioned and brought to light in the article. The takeaway for me is that we all can do a better job in our roles as coaches, especially in terms of doing right for the player vs. right for the team or thy own ego; we all should choose better because none of those roles (parent, player, coach, official, fan) are permanent; each of us (likely several times) will change roles throughout the course of our life. In each situation are we acting in such a way that our decision making would be identical if these roles were reversed? (ex. referee teaching a player from foul/incident like a coach, a coach making decisions for a player like a parent would (best interest), a parent treating referee in the same way as they’d wish their player/child would be treated if they were the official.) All that is super duper deep and for me hard to digest; but acting with a big-picture perspective, maximizing our effectiveness to create a long-term dent on the future and not just focusing on ‘the now’ is important. To embrace our roles fully as they are now, and whatever they may eventually come to be…