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our player development philosophy

PHILOSOPHY: We believe in a holistic system of development. Our player development philosophy rests on an athlete developing themselves as human beings first. 

First and foremost, we believe that a person's character is the foundation of the ability to develop as an athlete. We do not believe in the sanctuary myth (the myth that the ballpark/court/playing field is an escape). An athlete can use their sport to escape the stresses of their personal lives. But only for a time. You can only keep your off-the-field problems off the field for so long. If you are not taking care of your life off the field, then your play on the field will eventually suffer. 


Your athletes are always human beings first. The more you embrace that reality, the better your on-field results will be. 

OVERALL APPROACH: Once we actually do get on the field, we take a dynamic systems approach to player development. This means that we understand that our playing environments are complex and dynamic. This means there are many right ways to get good results. 5+5=10 but so does 4+6. 

We believe in employing a constraints-led approach to teaching motor skills. This means that we take a hands-off approach by trying to present the right problems for the athlete to solve. The effort the athlete makes to solve the problem will provide the athlete with multiple personalized ways to solve the ultimate problem and reach their ultimate motor goals. 

We define a motor skill as an athlete's ability to accurately perceive their environment and take the proper actions to achieve their desired results. 

By placing the proper problems in front of your athletes, they will acquire the best motor skills to work within their physical constraints and limitations. To learn more about how to do this and what the constraints-led approach is, read our blog post on the book Dynamics of Skill Acquisition: A Constraints-Led Approach. 

The overall approach to teaching in a complex and dynamic environment is called nonlinear pedagogy. This method of teaching accounts for all the moving parts of a complex system. It proposes that sport is more like a storm system than a clock or a computer. A clock or computer can be dissected and put back together. We know exactly how it works at every level. We know that certain inputs will result in certain outputs. It is predictable and understandable. A storm system is unpredictable and only loosely understandable. We can understand the principles and underlying rules that govern a storm system, but we cannot take it apart and put it back together again with exactness.

A clock or computer is a linear system. A storm system is a nonlinear system. For more information on nonlinear teaching methods and how effective they are, refer to our blog post on the book, Nonlinear Pedagogy in Skill Acquisition.

PRACTICE PRINCIPLES: Lastly, we believe in utilizing both massed and deliberate practice principles as well as interleaved and spaced out practice principles. Massed block practice is when an athlete repeats a motor skill over and over again with repetition being the emphasis. Deliberate practice is a scientific term coined by psychologist Anders Ericsson. Deliberate practice is a systematic and purposeful approach to practice that emphasizes focused and conscious attention. 

Interleaved and spaced out practice is a type of practice used for complex motor skill development. The term comes from a landmark book titled Make it Stick. Interleaved means that it is mixed with other skills. This type of practice emphasizes retrieval, citing research that shows that the brain and nervous system only rewires for long-term and stable learning when it has to work to remember teaching. 

There are certain motor skills that are properly developed by massed block practice. These are simple fundamentals with few moving parts (or degrees of freedom). The whole-part approach to teaching uses block practice principles by breaking larger tasks into smaller tasks. Once you have the parts broken down, the smaller skills are practiced in a massed block way. Then the parts are put back together and made whole.

Other skills are better acquired by interleaving and spacing out practice. These skills require the athlete to make decisions in the moment to combine simple skills to make a play in a complex environment or stressful situation. 

For more of an explanation of which skills are more appropriately practiced in which ways, refer to our blog post on the book, Make it Stick.

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