I came across a well-written post on the Independent Coach Education blog that asks youth sports parents what are the goals for their children who participate in youth sports.
The authors ask if there is a choice besides pursuing either the performance agenda or the participation agenda. I think they nail the concern with respect to the performance agenda:
The early developers monopolise the game time and the influential positions. They are allowed to reign supreme, scoring multiple goals every week. They become dominant players, but lack the physical and emotional qualities to become great players once maturation has evened everything out. The less able and late developers receive little game time or encouragement, and eventually drift away from the game carrying into later life the badge of dishonour – “I’m not sporty”.
At first blush, I considered the Hustle & Attitude philosophy as falling right in line with the participation agenda. However, as the authors suggest there is a third alternative – a culture that values mastery over outcomes – I think H&A actually fits in this category. Over the course of my coaching career, every player on my teams improved; the exceptional players got marginally better while the new or less skilled players improved significantly.
The authors conclude with a discussion about how leagues ought to be structured in order to ensure that the players’ desires and needs are put first. My hope is that leagues would establish rules and policies that would encourage this behavior. Further, training their coaches – whether H&A training or other – can go a long way towards ensuring this type of behavior.