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Posted in: General

The father trying to turn his seven-year-old into a champion

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  • I've just come across the story below on the BBC sport website. 

    The concept of 10,000 hours of purposeful practice is commonplace amongst coaches but I would be interested to hear your thoughts on this guy's approach. Does it work? Is it morally right? 

    The comments section by the post readers is also an interesting snapshot of general opinion on the perceived rights and wrongs of what this guy is trying to achieve

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/tennis/36367629

     · Blake Richardson likes this.
     
  • The epitome of a pushy parent...I look forward to reading what others think!

    Thanks for sharing Steve

     · Steve Price likes this.
     
  • Hmmmm.

    I'm all for kids participating in sport ... obviously being in the job that I am.

    But ... there are no guarentees in life. All it takes is an accident or puberty to hit in the wrong way or the wrong time and that girls main focus in life has gone. Also hasn't the 10,000 hours 'rule', has been rubbished by many sources although it wouldn't surprise me if this kid has already clocked up near that amount.

    I don't agree with the notion that talent is made and not born.  You can put the same kids in any sport and provide them with the same opportunity ... some will excel and others will reach a certain level and that's it. You have to have some natural ability, movement and a good head on your shoulders to progress. 

    And this also goes against early specialisation recommendations in many ways - but good luck to them, who knows, she may be one of the kids who do get to the top and live the life they dream of! I just hope she doesn't lose the relationship with her dad along the way. 

     · Rob Maaye, Steve Price and 1 other like this.
     
  • You make some very valid points Dannielle and I think this story does really divide opinion amongst coaches and parents.

    From a personal point of view I can see both sides of this but I think it does come across as a rather obsessive parent pushing his daughter to live his own dreams.

     · Dannielle Starkie and David Pratt like this.
     
  • It will certainly divide opinion and what works for one family won't work for another and the same with kids. Some kids can cope with that pressure and focus and others would crumble. 

    He does seem obsessed with the idea of being a champion ... and if she does reach those heady heights, fabulous. But then there is also the fallout afterwards - will this child measure her worth in medals and titles? And the psychological aspects of it all! Minefield!

     
  • On 26/05/16 8:49 AM, Dannielle Starkie said:

    I don't agree with the notion that talent is made and not born.  You can put the same kids in any sport and provide them with the same opportunity ... some will excel and others will reach a certain level and that's it. You have to have some natural ability, movement and a good head on your shoulders to progress. 

    Couldn't agree more. This idea that if you can just create superstars by starting them early is a dangerous fantasy. I've had to help ref some national under 18 tennis events in Nottingham and some parents are past the point of delusional. 

     · Dannielle Starkie, David Pratt and 1 other like this.
     
  • I couldn't disagree with the 10,000 hour rule more, a concept derived from studies based on closed skills (Chess and Musicians), has created a tide of belief that a way to improve our developing atheletes is by monotonously drilling them in a particular sport (10,000 hours over 10 years is approximately 3 hours a day!). The 10,000 hour rule also introduces a concept called deliberate practice, that being you focus on a particular skill again and again, its designed to be boring.

    The work of Berry and Abernethy, as well as Jean Cote, is of particular interest, they instead argue a multi dimensional sporting approach is less likely to bring negative connotations such as burnout, and more likely to develop sporting individuals with a wider talent base. 

     · David Pratt, Jonathan Abra and 1 other like this.
     
  • The more I coach, the more I read, the more I see, the more I understand that coaching should aim to help youngsters become better people.

    Forget international honours as an aim. That will come through many other factors out of your control. 

    The massive challenge is to understand what leads us to help players become better people and what that actually looks like.

    Why better people rather than the best athletes? Because life goes on after sport stops. We don't know when an athlete will finish and when they do, what happens next?

    Does that mean we are soft? Absolutely not. An athlete needs to know the value of hard work, determination, grit in adversity, that life's unfair, opponents cheat and referees make mistakes. 

     · Steve Symonds, Alasdair Jones and 5 others like this.
     
  • Dan, that's a really powerful description of what a true coach should be. That's why I got involved in coaching

     · Jonathan Abra likes this.
     
  • Thanks Steve.

    I can honestly say that's not why I started coaching, but 23 years later, I've come to realise this.

    Try telling or even better allowing another coach to realise this is the case is extremely tough.

    This forum is an excellent place for many, many reasons, but suffers from one massive problem. It doesn't reach the coaches who most need help!

     · Steve Price and Steve Symonds like this.
     
  • On 30/05/16 9:21 PM, Tom Oliver said:

    I couldn't disagree with the 10,000 hour rule more, a concept derived from studies based on closed skills (Chess and Musicians), has created a tide of belief that a way to improve our developing atheletes is by monotonously drilling them in a particular sport (10,000 hours over 10 years is approximately 3 hours a day!). The 10,000 hour rule also introduces a concept called deliberate practice, that being you focus on a particular skill again and again, its designed to be boring.

    The work of Berry and Abernethy, as well as Jean Cote, is of particular interest, they instead argue a multi dimensional sporting approach is less likely to bring negative connotations such as burnout, and more likely to develop sporting individuals with a wider talent base. 

    Agree, It still gets floated around in coach education I'm sure. What about athletes that change sports after 3-4 years? Do you shave off a few 1000 or revert back to 0?

     
  • On 31/05/16 8:38 AM, Dan Cottrell said:

    The more I coach, the more I read, the more I see, the more I understand that coaching should aim to help youngsters become better people.

    Forget international honours as an aim. That will come through many other factors out of your control. 

    The massive challenge is to understand what leads us to help players become better people and what that actually looks like.

    Why better people rather than the best athletes? Because life goes on after sport stops. We don't know when an athlete will finish and when they do, what happens next?

    Does that mean we are soft? Absolutely not. An athlete needs to know the value of hard work, determination, grit in adversity, that life's unfair, opponents cheat and referees make mistakes. 

    The late Mike Collins (2003, 2014, etc...) summed up how I feel about sport at the moment:

    'The sports world can leave inclusion to others and be part of the problem of an unequal society, or take hard decisions and demanding steps to be part of the moves to inclusion and be part of the solution.'

    Sorry if this is off topic. 

     · Steve Price and Mick Bamford like this.
     
  • Depends on the type of practice/sports exposed to. Using football as an example, a session entirely consisting of passing a ball backwards and forwards may not be very transferable, a session involving passing and scanning and turning translates an awful lot better into a sport such as Hockey. 

    My general take home message is that we shouldn't get hung up on the number of hours spent in practice, instead let them experience lots of sessions which challenge different movements/skills/actions, and the wide skill base needed to be successful in any sport will develop. Besides we will not be able to be there for all 10,000 hours, we might be lucky and get 5 hours a week instead of the 35 hours a week needed, make sport sessions which encourage them to go and play and be active for the rest of their spare time and they will improve at a much more rapid rate. 

     · Steve Price likes this.
     
  • I want to throw a slight curve ball to say that Ericsson's work is not totally out of place in this discussion. From his many studies, the results were significant in that the level of expertise attained matched that of the amount of time spent in (deliberate) practice. Albeit not in complex dynamic sports.

    The problem, however, is that the 10,000 hours or 10 year findings were made into a 'rule' (possibly attributed to Gladwell's book 'Outliers') where Ericsson never implied this. And therefore, it opened up the age-old debate about Nature V Nurture. The key message for me is that in order to improve we must practice and if that practice is 'good' we will see superior results. Ericsson's work provides more detail or thoughts about what 'good' practice might be.

    In my sport, Hockey, I am strongly in the implicit constraints-led approach camp, creating environments to learn and excel at the game. I read Stuart Armstrongs recent blog this morning (http://www.thetalentequation.co.uk/#!The-joy-and-the-power-of-experimenting-in-the-gamified-garden/c137b/574f3edc0cf2c85df84d1606) and pondered whether this is deliberate/purposeful practice - it had objectives, motivations to improve, feedback by the scores and repetitions. 

    Reverting back to the original question - it certainly poses some moral dilemmas but I'm intrigued to see the results. It reminds me of a documentary on Netflicks called 'Trophy Kids'. If you haven't seen it I would strongly recommend. And if you can do so without shouting at the TV you're a better person that I am! 

     · Steve Price likes this.
     
  • Just to add to your comments Fundamentals of Movement and Fundamental movement skills should be key in the early years of a child's physical literacy in order for them to be more proficient when they get older  and play sports specific activities.

     
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