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Soccer Practice
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  • Writer's pictureDon Draxler

Why We’re Losing the Majority of Young Athlete’s

Coaching is Learning

You know, it's pretty wild to think about why most young athletes drop out of sports. I mean, most of us see coaching as teaching or passing on knowledge, right? But what if we've been looking at coaching all wrong?

Here's the thing: I believe coaches are there to learn. It's not just about teaching the sport; it's about understanding each player's unique experience. It's like, instead of just showing them how to play, it's more about exploring the various experiences players can have within the sport.

“Once you stop learning, you start dying.”

- Albert Einstein

It's tough to change this mindset. We've kind of set this idea that coaching means being the one with all the answers, making the calls for the team. But what if we, as coaches, design the experience together with the players? What if we learn by observing how they experience the game? That's what coaching really is – not just handing out knowledge but being there in support, focusing on the players' experiences.

But you know what's sad? The way we've turned sports into this quantifiable thing, all about statistics, rankings, and winning or losing. We've forgotten the beauty of why we play sports in the first place – for the experience, the journey. Instead, we've turned it into a pressured, almost work-like environment, which is why so many kids drop out so early.

Why Do We Enjoy Sports?

We've got to bring back the play in sports. That's where it all starts and ends – the joy, the fun. Because without that, it's just technical skills without the heart and soul that truly captivate us as fans and players. We need to focus on the experience, the journey with the players, rather than just the end result or following some preconceived notion of how the game should be played.

“If it’s not fun, is it worth it?”

- Johan Cruyff

And you know what's crazy? The majority of kids leave sports by 13, and most who make it through high school don't even pursue it further. We're so fixated on this idea of becoming a professional athlete when realistically, only a tiny fraction actually make it to that level. Long Term Athletic Development LTAD has become more of a curse than a helpful guide.

Joy of the Game

We've got to remind ourselves why we're out there playing – for the joy, the experience, the journey. It's all about the play, not just the competition or turning sports into a set of rules and rankings. That's the essence of sports – the play, the joy of the game. Without that, it's just not the same.

“Do What Children Like”

- Kris Van Der Haegen


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