Are You a Master of What You Teach?

6 Sep

My son Aidan recently decided he wanted to skateboard.

Aidan at the Forsyth County Skate Park

Aidan at the Forsyth County Skate Park

As a result, we visited the local skateshop and we bought a top of the line deck, trucks, wheels and safety gear.

I’ve been taking him daily to the new skate park at Fowler Park and coaching him through learning the ins and outs.

Of course, I’ve never skated a day in m life. But why wouldn’t I take this opportunity to teach him?

Well, none of that is true (except for Aidan deciding he wanted to learn to skate.)

But I’ve seen parents not on boards hovering over their kids and seeming to coach them.

He bought his own board with his own money and making his own choice. Reality is it is probably too small for him, but he paid for it.

I do take him to the skate park to practice. Reality is that he goes off on his own and does his own thing. He watches older kids and adults skate and does his best to mimic their stance and basic movements.

He makes mistakes – falls off, comes to a standstill trying to go up the slopes and otherwise is a less than perfect skater (again my knowledge of skating is limited to what I’ve seen on the X-Games.)

But all of this is similar to what I think is the method needed to learn soccer and many other sports.

The Need to Fail
Everyone needs to occasionally fail to understand what success is! It brings humility and makes real success be tangible and different than the median.

Improvisation
Skateboarding is built on improvisation. With too much structure, the creativity is never developed. In soccer, confining players to lines and drills eliminates the possibility of practices breeding creative athletes.

Self-Learning and Peer Education
With skateboarding being just a few decades old, it is still in a relative infancy as a sport. I believe most skaters still learn through solo learning and peer-to-peer education.

In soccer, these influences are being suppressed by lack of playing time outside of practices and highly competitive games. There’s no low risk chance to fail in the education process.

No Short Cuts to Success
On a skateboard, there’s no replacement for time spent on the board when trying to master the skills. Outside of practicing and repetitively failing, the skill or trick will never be achieved.

Yet on a soccer field, we expect first time mastery of skills and quick roads to winning games at young ages.

A Lifetime to Learn
I see skateboarders well into their 20’s and 30’s regularly on the course at Fowler Park. And I see them trying (what I perceive as) tricks that are new to them and failing, or failing on the old tricks.

At my U7 games last spring, players were expected to make great on field decisions to pass and shoot and goalkeepers were expected to block shots on goal.

Soccer also takes a lifetime to learn, but young players often aren’t given that time. Why not? Are the outcomes of matches in U7 that important?

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