Could we learn some lessons from the French soccer development process? Here is some food for thought. This transcends soccer!At Clairefontaine- National Training Center for French Football Federation:Emphasis on experimentation and creativity not matches. Access to top coachesValue on unstructured play7 year olds play no format larger than 5V5No child slotted into one position until teenage ye
UK Athletics is promoting a similar principle of ‘not selecting a position’ via the struture of its new coach development pathway. This is geared towards athletes being multi-event up to around U17.
I think the principle (that the UKA is promoting) is good but doesn’t take account of the economic reality which is that people behave the way they are measured (or people behave to incentives).
So in our example, working the kids through multi-events up to U15 is okay, except that most competitions are for individual events. Whilever a kid can excel at a sprint, trying to motivate them to learn to high jump is quite difficult if the competition structure allows them to compete only at the sprints.
If the competition was only multi-event up to U15, then the competitive nature of the athlete would pull them through the multi event process instead of the coaches trying to push them through it. The incentive that you will be a better specialist athlete at 19 by doing multi events now is a tough sell to a 13 year old if they have the choice of being good at a particular discipline.
The down side of course of a multi event style arrangement is that there may be some kids who are pre-disposed to certain events (say shot putt) that is just as demotivated by running a 600m, as the fast kid who doesn’t want to be high jumping.
It’s all about the incentives.
The beauty of the French football academy is that it is a pinnacle in itself that the kids have achieved, but how did they get there? There isn’t an academy structure in athletics in the UK for kids, so the only way to get any kind of notice is to excel and pushing kids into multi-events is narrowing their opportunity to excel.
Something needs to change but I think we have the germs of improvement.
- You must be logged in to reply to this topic.