Western News

Win-at-all-costs mentality hurting sports

The EDGE Sporting

With Paul Reid

Thursday, November 14, 2019

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The win-at-all-costs mentality could be one of the biggest hindrances in the real development of young sports prospects, especially in team sports, on the island.

While in other more developed countries, sports at the under-16 age group are mostly aimed at teaching the fundamentals and basics of the particular sporting discipline, here in Jamaica, it is win at all costs at every level.

One just has to go watch a basic school or primary/prep school competition, any sport, it does not matter, and you will see coaches pushing the youngsters well beyond their limit, as winning is all that matters.

In western Jamaica, we have had the VMBS Under -13 football competition for over two decades, and of late there have been several Under-12, Under-10 and even Under-8 football competitions, while at the high school level, there is Under-14 football.

I have been watching a number of these competitions over the years, and on very few occasions have there been any indication that the persons in charge of these teams, I hesitate to call them coaches, have any interest in teaching the fundamentals of the sport.

A few years ago, a junior football coach from The Netherlands visited the country and commented that in his country, and in some other European countries, winning games was not a priority at the youth level, that is 14 years and younger.

Rather, he said, the main emphasis was in making sure the youngsters were taught how to play the sport they chose, football, hockey or whichever discipline they chose.

It was interesting watching the reactions of several coaches in attendance, as the idea was as foreign to them as trying to get blood from stone.

While it might be difficult to try and police all the different basic, primary and prep schools competitions, the Inter-Secondary Schools Sports Association (ISSA) could put in place guidelines that could assist in developing more youngsters.

Coaches at all levels are known to favour playing a certain starting team with more or less the same substitutes, while the rest of the squad are basically practice players only.

ISSA increased the number of changes allowed, and at the junior level, teams are allowed seven subs in any one game. But ISSA needs to go further and should mandate that every player registered for the Under -14 competitions, at the very least, Must start at least one game for the season.

At the Under-14 level in basketball, ISSA has rules that limit the amount of time any player can be on the court and every player on the team sheet must play at least one quarter.

While training is important, youngsters cannot improve if all they do is train and get no real game time.

Coaches must be protected from themselves and their ambitions.


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