Looking For Solutions From People Who Can Show Us Their Work
Youth soccer may be fraught with challenges but looking for solutions without vetting the source doesn’t make sense. Parents, Coaches and Clubs need to do their homework — just like Coach Reed’s son has to do his.
My son came into my office a couple of weeks ago with a very distraught look.
“Want to talk?” I asked.
“It’s my math teacher. He gave me an F on my homework. I did all of the problems and got most of them right!!” He pushed his paper at me.
A quick glance was all I needed to understand.
Written across the top of the page in large print was “Show me your work”.
You can imagine the conversation. Did he earn the grade, did he copy, or did he use a calculator? Can he fix the missed problems and learn from them (no work, means no ability to review for errors)?
The point of the math homework was not the answers, it was the process. The mastery.
He is learning to groove neural connections and is leaving bread crumbs for finding that path again in the future. It is not at all about the problems, it is about finding the solutions. And then showing you can do the work necessary to solve other problems too.
His teacher doesn’t want empty promises, he wants to see the solutions.
It got me to thinking about the current world of youth sports. We’ve spent the better part of a decade discussing what’s wrong and placing blame, but where is the work? We see where we are now. We can clearly see the “answer” on paper. How did we get here AND how do we solve this?
Instead of being “problem-focused” we should be problem-aware, solution-focused.
Can we look at the work and see where the errors are?
Then maybe we can solve the problems. We need people who can do the work to create those solutions and not people who turn in empty promises with no work to show.
Why Not Showing Your Work Hurts Youth Sports
There are p
Fancy mission statements, slick elevator pitches, and club values posted on websites don’t show us the work.
You can say your club is focused on player development, but can you show me your work?
What do you do daily, in every facet of your club, to develop players?
What do you do to develop your coaches so they can properly develop your players? Technical and tactical skill development alone is not coach development. Underdeveloped coaching education leads to underdeveloped player/people education.
We don’t want a list of results, either. Anyone can win a major youth championship if they get the pick of the litter.
Picking the early bloomers and riding their talent to the podium doesn’t make you a player developer. Player development goes far deeper than the foot skills and game knowledge. It is more about people development and our success in developing people won’t be revealed for years to come.
Are your club’s “core values” also core behaviors?
If I can watch your parents, athletes, and coaches living and breathing your club values on any given weekend, that’s showing your work
My son couldn’t just list the answers to the questions without showing he’d done the work.
Until we stop blindly leaping from fad to fad, we’ll be stuck in the blame game and suckers to the circus of the youth sports industrial machine.
Youth soccer clubs, their coaches, administrators, parents and players deserve even more.
In a $17 billion industry, we will have fakers and takers. If they can’t show the proof or they can’t show the work, show them the door.
Do not listen to the FOMO voice saying you MUST do this or miss the train. This is the future of our children here. Youth sports is a marathon and leaves plenty of time for checking the work before we subject our children to one more unproven fad. Once the marathon has ended, can we see the work in our children, as highly productive and successful humans?
Here are a few times when we all should ask “show me your work”:
- Choosing a new club? Don’t believe a website. Go see for yourself. Ask them for access to training sessions where you can say “show me your work”. Go to watch the teams play at a tournament (unannounced and anonymously) and see for yourself
- Seeking a private trainer? Ask to see him or her in action. Speak to other athletes who’ve been trained. Ask for certifications. This is your kid’s mind, body and soul we are talking about, you might as well do your homework. I did 4 separate background checks in 18 months just to teach kindergarten and substitute in a Sunday School class. Did
youbackground check any of your kids’ trainers or coaches?
- Finding a new coach? Did you Google your coach? Did you check
the socialmedia? There is no clearing house for coaching. A coach can get banned in one state or sport and move on to the next. Do your own homework. (GreatCoach.com is working to fix this, but you should still check Google.)
- Employing the latest “sports science” fad? Fact check. Look at the references. Was there empirical research done to support it? Was it successfully applied in real life? The word “science” should not magically grant something immunity from a little scrutiny.
- Bottom line: Do you have a real solution? Is it sustainable? Is it applicable across all ages and levels?
If we want our children to show us the work, we MUST be willing to do the same.
My son’s math teacher was on to something. Homework answers without the work is a page of empty promises.
Trust but verify.
Coach Reed Maltbie was a long-time Director of Coaching for one of the largest and most successful soccer clubs and an Executive Director of Soccer Shots before becoming a global speaker and coach developer
Coach Reed believes that there are a lot of people in the youth soccer industry looking to profit from the $17 billion who are not qualified to do the work they claim, who are advancing archaic or outdated practices or practices not supported by science and who do more damage than good because they don’t solve any issues. This article is the first of a new series from Coach Reed on Solving The Issues We Face Today.
Related Article: “Raising Excellence in Every Child. Chasing Excellence with Every Day” Coach Reed Maltbie, Founder of Raising Excellence.