August 7, 2007
Are You Focusing On The "Wrong" Players
Koach Karl - Here is Part 5 of Gary Allen's article…
Two crucial aspects of the game at the higher levels are patience and concentration. Because success based upon physical prowess often results in promoting direct play, players up through the mid-teen years often have never developed the patience or the concentration to hold possession of the ball beyond three or four passes, and certainly do not have the foresight to use the ball to draw opponents into certain parts of the field so that they can exploit the spaces they create. This sort of patience, concentration, guile, and using the ball as the ultimate decoy are not even considerations for most teenaged players. Most of it is due directly to what has been the reason they have been "selected" and the continual motivation throughout their earlier years: success through physical, direct and efficient play.
The second issue of motivation is "who" is motivated to continue to play. It is well-known that in youth sports generally, approximately 70% of all athletes at age 12 stop playing sports altogether by age 13. Why? Most of it comes back to intrinsic motivation. Players entering their teen years are like all teenagers, they are beginning to search for their identities, and they also start to realize that they do have choices about how to spend their time. Why is there such a rise in "extreme" sports in this country? Could it be that these sports provide teens with a way to express themselves and solve problems in unique ways, without the constant prodding from adults to do things in certain, prescribed ways?
Another fact, of which many are unaware is that almost 75% of physically precocious athletes only develop into mediocre athletes. By focusing all of our "special" attention at ages 9-14 primarily on these players, we are missing many players, who, though they are not precocious, could ultimately be the great athletes when they mature. Yet, currently, we provide them with very little motivation to continue, focusing most off our attention on those we deem to be "serious" players.