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How kids teach scientist and coaches

A recent twitter eruption over kids at practice kicking against a wall set the internet on fire with coaches and scientific skill experts taking various sides.

As my friend from Salisbury Rovers, Deb Sayers, always says, the kids know already.

It is not that they 'know best," they know better than the sport scientists, than the best coaches in the world, and all we have to do is listen.

I have practiced against a wall perhaps more than any player on the planet. Well into my 50's I was still playing at the highest men's amateur level (D1) in my state. I know where all the best wall are in the state. The best one is in Fridley, MN with 40 yards of perfectly cut grass in front of a 30 foot wall. I spent hundreds of hours there.

Practicing on your own in isolation

But I know something the scientists don't, at least not yet

All their studies, their experiments, theories and hypothesis lead to simple play, the simpler the better

I don't say this lightly of without experience. I was at the 1st Kisakhalio Motor skills acquisition conference in 2015 Finland where Keith Davids took the stage and proclaimed: "We have the whose who, the original Beatles of skill acquisition experts at this conference."

I took him at his word.

He opened his slides talking about environments of the future and included a project that we were working on for 2 years, Puckleball, a crazy rally polly soccer pitch designed by the Artist Johan Strom. Strom came to St. Paul to create a design for our park. just one example of practice before the science

(Jean Cote, Keith Davids, Wolfgang Shullhorn, Jia Yi Chow, Duarte Araújo)

It was a small conference, so over the weekend I was able to spent time with John, Paul, George and Ringo. I rode to the conference with Chow. and his daughter wh were planning on going skiing in northern Finland after the conference, I had breakfast with Wolfgang Shullhorn who captured the table with his stories of bobsledding in St. Moritz, and played floor ball with Jean Cote.

I went to all the presentations, I had a short presentation myself on the 5 years of observing kids in the wild, (I am not one of the original Beatles).

Non linear pedagogy, ecological psychology, differential learning, constraints led approach, it is all very intimidating and often difficult to understand, and I still do not understand much of it.

But what I saw that weekend was It was all about finding the play. All the terminology, the constraints, the affordances, a the dynamical systems theory are all great

Play is better.

ALl the science was just trying to get to play. Something was going on in play. With out a testable theory they were left testing their best guesses.

Improve free throws? Blocked is good, varied is better, random, differential

Play is better

Complex systems

Cote: Why do soccer players develop in Brazil? Cote is a staunch believer in sampling, but kids don't sample in Brazil, they just play soccer. Solution: introduce the idea of sampling within a sport

Shullhorn and differential

So here is my homespun challenge to the scientists. Play is the best learning system, everything else is second best (Wall passing).

What kids can teach coaches and Sicientists

Kids want talent

  1. Transfer will always be second best

Play is

If training against a wall does not transfer, then why would pattern passing? Or 6v2 rondo? Or 8v8? With no two situations in soccer the same, what would 'transfer' mean anyway? Would you always be fighting last war.

Kids don't want to be taught--but they do want to grow.

Scientist all are simply trying to find play, something any 7 year old does naturally. In fact, kids are born with the ability to play. Just as Chomsky proposes

I am going to bring up an important analogy here. Language. Play precedes language and culture. All animals, even bacteria play.

How do we prepare for a future

If there are never two situations that are the same how do we train/play/practive/prepare so that the skills 'transfer

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