Influencing Success - the Long Game


According to Gary Lineker, parents are responsible for the lack of success of English football. Specifically, due to the parents' support for a style of play that can be successful at a younger age, but that ultimately limits senior elite success. Note, this not exclusively about 'ugly parents', about whom Linker recommends a "cultural parental revolution". This is about parents cheering for their kids and kids in their teams who play a style of play which will not be successful at a higher level. In this case, the long ball to the forwards.

A very interesting article about Old School Coaches makes a similar point. The writer focusses on the coaches, but also discusses a variety of different parenting styles which make her scared. The essence of the article is that yelling isn't a bad thing. That with 'old school coaches' it is a sign that they care about the long term development of the children they are responsible for. I'm not completely comfortable with the article, but it does do a good job of distinguishing between bad coaches who yell and good coaches who yell.

One of the most difficult things to do as a coach is to play the Long Game, because to do this you have to accept three things:
  1. you may be compromising your success in the short term, 
  2. you may be opening yourself up to criticism, and
  3. there are no guarantees of success in the long term.
The great thing about this is that:
  1. there will never be any evidence that you have compromised short term success,
  2. you will be criticised no matter what, and
  3. no one will remember what happened 5 years ago by the time long term success does or doesn't happen.
In short - there is nothing to lose!

As a coach, the Long Game is the only game when you have the responsibility of developing young athletes. The biggest challenge is to convince others that developing the overall ability of children is a good thing. Something that is very hard to argue against.

As a parent, one of the most effective solutions is that, whenever you hear a coach rationalising short term strategies by saying, 'I'd love to do that but I just can't', make sure you give them the support they need so that they 'can'.

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