Friday, July 10, 2015

Another Video Highlighting the Importance of Developing Intrinsic Motivation

This week I was lucky enough to attend an AVID training in Orlando, Florida. While I was bummed that I didn't get to attend Coaching U while I was there, I did get to see this amazing video. First, I want you to just watch the video, it truly is inspiring.

Amazing what kids can do, huh? That was the theme that our AVID presenter used, but I saw it in a completely different light. For me, this video is yet another example of the power of autonomy and ownership for our youth in sports. If an adult would have built a beautiful pitch, organized a team, forced them to practice, and signed them up for this tournament I don't believe they would have been nearly as good. And they surely wouldn't have enjoyed it nearly as much. The secret here is that these players went through the ultimate talent development experience. 

First, they had ignition - which if you've read Daniel Coyle's "Talent Code" he talks about. They watched soccer on TV. Soccer excited them and caused them to dream. It lit a fire that made them want it badly. If their parents had just enrolled them in soccer this ignition may not have happened - or at likely not to the degree of these players. 

Secondly, they had autonomy and ownership of the situation. No one told them to make a team - they wanted to. No one told them to build the field - they wanted to. No one told them when, where, or how to practice - they did it on their own. They started playing for the love of the game. No coach scolded them when they all just decided to jump in the water and play for a while. No one told them they had to practice X hours a day - they did because they truly loved it. They were truly free to pursue it at their own leisure. I believe this freedom made them work harder. I also believe that's part of the reason that basketball exploded in the inner cities during the 70-90s. It was much more of a free play system (street ball) that players pursued at their own leisure. 

Third, they had spartan conditions. Coyle also references this in the talent code. There is an advantage to training in conditions that are not ideal. I believe it makes you hungry for success. If you have it all already - what's the rush to work hard? 

Lastly, they had a true sense of belonging to the group. This wasn't manufactured because adults forced them onto a "team". This was a group of friends who truly wanted to do this together. It's very important for groups to want to play/be together in order to have sustained success. 

The combination of all these factors was a group of people who maximized their abilities and did it all with a true sense of pure joy. The most important aspects were that they had proper ignition and then had the autonomy to drive themselves to be great. For me, this group of young men had the perfect sports experience. It also sounds like something that we wish every single one of our teams did!

So...that begs the question, how do we get there? I've written blogs before on the topic so I will keep it brief. As coaches we need to step back and let our players lead (guide on the side not a sage on the stage). We need to allow them time to play, experiment, and have some autonomy over the team. No one wants to be ruled with an iron fist, especially when you are partaking in something for "fun". That doesn't mean as a coach you let the players run the team, have no rules, etc. I believe that discipline is something that still needs to be maintained. But at the same time I think too many coaches (myself included) can approach the game from a "coach centered" space because it's enjoyable for us and it was how we were coached. But what our players really want and need is the opportunity to lead, have some autonomy, and do it as a close group.

I also think that for our younger kids ignition is key. Right now we give our 4th, 5th, 6th graders too much too soon. They play in tons of leagues and structured activities when all they really need to do is free play and build a love for the game. Yes, in high school coaching and structure is important (to a point). But does it really need to be so prevalent for elementary schoolers? I would say that elementary kids might be better off in the long run engaging in free play with their friends than they are playing traveling and going to structured camps. By then they have built up the love of the game, so when things do get structured and more rigorous they are better able and willing to push through that. 


Stephen Ring said...

Coach Carrier

It might also be said that like SSG's using a smaller cramped space, smaller Goals etc helped with the learning a development processes.


Mike McCabe said...

It is ironic that a lot of authoritarian styles developed in response to the free play development system that was prevalent in that era. Coaches often had to apply structure because most players came from relatively unstructured environments. Because a lot of current coaches were coached in this style that is what they emulate.
However the dynamic has flipped. Because the developmental system is so structured and rigid, coaches today must provide more of an unstructured environment that encourages freedom and thinking rather than following directions and playing like robots.