FIXING THE AMERICAN ATHLETE.
The most important, misunderstood, and underutilized skill in sports is SPEED.
This article launches a comprehensive project - FIXING AMERICAN SPORTS & OUR ATHLETES - (soon to be available in a series of podcasts, blogs, customized apps, and video posts) that examines how we’ve failed today’s athletes and explore what proven solutions we should be using to correct, succeed and sustain optimum performance.
This project is an action plan to address the following needs and recommendations that every American Athlete should receive:
The forgotten 50% of Athletes - Females
The lack of focus on fundamental movement skill development.
The need for improved grass-root coaching and instruction.
The lack of focus on athlete safety and injury prevention.
The need to de-emphasize organized games, League & Tournament play and institute a set off-season.
Eliminate pre-mature judgement of athletic ability and the unsubstantiated selection/placement of what athletes advance and who does not.
Prevent the U.S. from continuing down the (“Roman Empire Downfall”) road of arrogant self satisfaction that’s preventing us from creating a Legacy of Athletic Leadership Worldwide.
I wrote a book 17 years ago titled, FAIR PLAY - MAKING ORGANIZED SPORTS A GREAT EXPERIENCE FOR YOUR KIDS. I specifically outlined how to fix organized youth sports, by eliminating the rush to judge who was or was not talented to advance, and provide a equal combination of movement & sport specific skill development, while avoiding our adult infatuation with the outcome of unnecessary organized games. Today, the problem I wrote about close to two decades ago continues to return horrible results. However the discussion goes beyond how to change the system, we are now forced to save the American Athlete. After that book was published I spent over 20 years working for some of the world’s largest sports brands, training elite athletes and creating a true feeder development system that provides a healthy and accessible pathway from the youth to professional levels. I’ve had much success developing and advancing individuals and teams to achieve their goals, only to have that progress ruined by a broken American Athletic System. What is the American Athletic Training System you may ask? It’s the most unorganized and disruptive system in sports today. It’s the system where you’ve placed your children. I train athletes to be placed in the hands of an Unorganized System that places a single focus on winning today (meaningless games & championships) rather than developing the athlete first.
What we do have, is a very organized system of counter productive, adult self-centered, meaningless development programs, that produces more self doubt through unsubstantiated judgement, than true athletes. A system that creates robotic and non-creative individuals. A process that leaves many young athletes with chronic lifelong injuries. A system that has no consideration for female athletes to be developed and trained appropriately. This is all done through a dysfunctional system that we call organized sports. Where the emphasis is on adults, rather than the betterment of athletes. Where selfishness and entitlement run rampant. Where teamwork doesn’t exist.
INCOMPETENT PLAYER & COACHING DEVELOPMENT
I only have to point to men’s soccer on the world stage. We are continuously embarrassed in international competitions.
We get our ass kicked in men’s tennis. We’ve all but destroyed the purest athletic sport of all - Track & Field. And if it weren’t for the number of Latin American players playing in Major League Baseball, our national pastime would be exactly that - in the past!
We’ve coddled our kids - created travel teams for everyone, bring them to as many college showcases as possible, studied the best sports for them to participate` in order to possibly receive a scholarship. Case in point, if I spread a rumor that colleges were about to start Division One Bull Riding (especially Ivy League Schools) you guessed it, we’d have an influx of kids riding in-home mechanical bulls side by side their parent’s Peloton bike.
It doesn’t have to be this way, but for all the reasons and ranting I’ve done up to this point there’s a reason why we can’t compete. We’ve taken a generation of kids and attempted to develop them at a pace where they’re not possibly ready to experience success, where we over instruct and drill them with rote text book skills, and into adult-like competitions, without any regard to the development of creativity. We skip teaching the most important skills - foundational movement (i.e. how to run & jump correctly) and balance skills, yet we require them to execute complex sport specific skills.
We rely on volunteer, untrained adult/parent coaches to instruct our athletes. It’s not the volunteers fault. They’re often left to figure out how to organized a team, instruct the athletes, conduct practices, and make decisions throughout a season of competition. And for those who believe that some sports provide proper volunteer coaches training - guess what - it doesn’t work. I organized and ran one of the largest coaches training programs in the country while at the NFL. If it wasn’t for a strong structure that provides cohesive, consistent support from the grassroots up, that’s easy to access and implement, it’s nearly impossible to provide the services that are necessary to run a successful youth program that will sufficiently develop athletes through a volunteer based coaching system. Adults/parents have barely enough time to show up to practice or a game never mind prepare for them. And for those of you that hire “professional coaches” to teach your kids - guess what - those coaches are most likely not qualified to work with your kids. They don’t understand age appropriate development. And at no fault to them they’re hired to win games - so where does their focus go? Not to developing everyone or even anyone on the team. They cookie cut and scheme the best ways to win games rather then taking the time to develop athletes. A WASTE OF YOUR MONEY & TIME.
The Forgotten 50%
Females remain the afterthought of sports. As a result the athletic experience for many young females has damaged their bodies and mental health. We overlook that females are built and develop differently. We disregard their safety and the proper development methods that should result in a healthy, strong, adult. Females need to be coached differently than men.
THERE’S A SOLUTION
For the past 20 years I’ve developed and implemented a solution to all the issues the athlete faces today. Through a customized network of contemporary tools and communication I have designed a Athletic Training System that works for today’s athlete. This simple and basic approach to learning and competing produces stunning results.
My solution to “Fixing the American Athlete” is broken into female and male solutions. Unlike today’s sports structure, I’ll place an equal focus on females.
My focus takes instruction and competition out of the hands of adults and gives the power of learning and playing to the young athlete. Through the power of self-coaching, peer learning/experimenting, and self discovery young athletes will develop at their own pace. This is no secret. Top skateboarders, snowboarders, and surfers develop into the best in their sport through self & peer coaching.
The delivery system is provided through a guided gamification experience of instruction and a motivation to improve performance by appealing to their love for video games with a similar scoring/tracking methodology.
It’s time to provide a more productive and contemporary way to develop today’s athlete that results in a better educated & creative American Athlete who continues to grow into a physically and mentally strong, healthy adult.
Fixing the American Athlete will present a carefully crafted blueprint that corrects the mistakes of past & present day sports experiences. I’ll bring you advice from the top experts in the fields of coaching, teaching, military, medicine, and science. Delivered in a series of podcasts, blogs, videos, clinics/workshops.
This project is also an invitation to you and many others to collaborate to create the best solutions that are available for all athletes to prosper from for generations to come.