The Long Term Athlete Development Plan (LTADP) has created a universal plan for the development of athletes. It has without question developed the skills of youth around the world by changing the way athletes progress through their prospective sport.
The LTADP was designed to eliminate game play at a young age and instead focus on skill development to enhance athletes likelihood of success later in life. As the athlete matures the LTADP dictates that the time the athlete spends playing the sport should shift from skill development style practices to game play.
The mentality has had been whole heartily adopted by a number of sports and associations around the world. The Ontario Soccer Association (OSA) for example implemented a full overhaul of its competitive landscape. In 2014 the OSA mandated that all teams under 12 years of age are required to play without keeping score and beyond that eliminate wins and loses all together removing the need for posting standings.
The goal was to eliminate the win-at-all-cost mentality and focus more on developing skills of young athletes. While the goal here is admirable the results are mixed and the OSA still has an uphill battle to win. Beyond the format of games the OSA has also placed strict sanctions on team travel. A move that has threatened soccer outside of the Greater Toronto Area as tournaments outside of North America’s 3rd largest metropolitan area use these tournaments as fundraisers for the organizations. The OSA sanction has reduced the number of teams attending their tournament and therefore decreased the money raised through registration and accommodations.
Beyond the financial restraint put on the sport the changes have pushed a shift in culture. A culture shift designed to level the playing field and leave no one behind. The problem with this approach is the structure is failing to teach children one of life’s most beneficial lessons: How to Lose. The LTADP in this particular example has pushed the pendulum too far in the direction of skill development and neglected to address this very important issue. Many parents, fans, and unfortunately coaches believe the most talented athletes win games. However, in reality focus, desire, and intelligence are almost always deciding factors when the game is on the line. All of which are enhanced through failure not through skill development.
Michael Sigman of the Huffington post notes touches on this topic as is applies to the American school system. He touches on the inflated success numbers in school, how it has crossed over into the rest of the population, and the growing impact on the American economy as a result. Take a minute to read further.
Does eliminating winning and losing really have a profound effect on youth? Or does this protective set of guidelines lead to a losing culture?
Should more sports eliminate winning and losing? Have you seen any positive or negative effects from rules such as this?
Let us know where you stand.
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