Who is Youth Sports For?Sometimes we forget one of the most important elements in youth sports - who everybody is working for. It's not the coach, the Club President, mom or dad... it's our future. It's our future expressed by, shaped by, and executed by our children. I don't mean to suggest that kids have the knowledge or sophistication to tell everybody what to do in the youth sports environment, to modify or enforce the rules, or should be allowed to control the ways things are going - at least not in an explicit way or across the board. I am providing a thesis that that there is a meta message that runs through a youth sports environment that is deeper than the construction of a soccer session, a team record, or the way age brackets are mapped out or advanced. We are using our collective skills and experience to create an environment for our kids that will allow them to absorb critical life skills with the hope that they will carry those skills into the future. The youth sports environment is not designed to be a babysitter. The soccer field is not a place to drop our kids off and keep them entertained while we run errands or go take a nap. Youth sports was designed as a way for our generation to invest in our future. It's an approach to add value and realize yield on an investment in the human race. It's a deliberate and sophisticated learning and value add platform. Coaching and Parenting Is Like FarmingI'm not an authority on farming, but I have my stereotypes. I see farmers as experts in making things grow. They grow crops and raise animals. Our lives literally depend on their ability to work with nature and be good at what they do. So it's from a position of respect that I offer the analogy. Nobody - not most ordinary people anyway - really knows what to do with a seed or a package of seeds that hasn't been identified yet. If we don't know what a seed is or what it will become, we don't know what it needs to survive, right?I'm betting that if you hand a skilled farmer a package of seeds, the first question is going to be where did this package come from? Some of what seeds will become is the result of the adult plants that produced them. The farmer wants to know: what am I working with? As a coach, this is usually one of my first questions too. Planting seeds is a lot different than raising humans though. Humans are more complex. Looking at a set of parents isn't always a good indicator of what a young human is going to grow into. Kids can be completely different from their parents. We don't get to choose who our kids will become. It's not completely random, but it can seem random. If we take a random seed problem to a farmer, he or she will probably tell us that we just need to plant the seeds to see what grows. We need to provide fertile soil, some amount of sunlight, and fertilizer from time to time. The PH and moisture of the soil, the amount of sunlight, and the types and quantities of fertilizer all vary depending on the type of plant we're trying to grow. Sometimes we think we're planting one thing, and another thing starts to grow in its place. Such it is with humans. If a skilled farmer wants whatever he or she is planting to grow strong and healthy, they need to adapt the conditions to give whatever is growing the best chance of survival. If a farmer sees tomatoes coming up, they know they need stakes and scaffolding to support the fruited branches. If they see citrus, they know they will need lots of sunshine. If they see mangos, they know they will need warm and moist soil. "Our job in youth sports is to get our players off to a strong start. We want them to have the best possible chance to survive and thrive once they are on their own. Our kids will carry our future in directions we can not fully prepare for. We need the sophistication and maturity to tune in to what our kids want and need, find a way to give it to them, and get out of the way. " David DejewskiCoach and Club PresidentThe point here is ...
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