Development. That term is used in many different ways in soccer, including our mission statement at Quick Touch Soccer Development (QTSD©). But what does it mean, and why is it important to understand for YOUR athlete? More importantly, how can we evaluate our athletes to help them reach their expectations while still holding them properly accountable?
To begin, we need to define two different ideas:
Develop - "to create or produce by deliberate effort over time."
Development - "the process of developing or being developed."
When our athletes start their soccer journey, we are choosing to invest our time, resources, energy, AND passion towards an end goal. For success, our athletes need to recognize our starting AND endpoints. Without that, it becomes challenging to measure success, growth, and where our athletes are currently from a proper perspective.
Development requires process, patience, and deliberate effort. It can be easy to fall prey to the temptation of "immediate results" or "comparing to other players/teams/programs." If we can remember the following three points, our athletes will have a much better development journey:
1) PROCESS - Recognize that learning is a process that is different for every single athlete. The typical soccer journey from youth to professional is approx. 14 years. There will be a lot of successes, a lot of failures, and many different learning curves over that time. We must create AND remember an approximate outline of where/when are they starting and where will their journey will potentially end at.
2) PATIENCE - Learning and developing take patience; from the athlete AND parents. To truly improve, your athlete will have to fail thousands of times before they get to the point of total development. BUT those failures will be how they learn what works for them. We live in an "immediate results" society, but proper development does not work that way.
3) DELIBERATE EFFORT - Development does not happen by accident. It requires drive and deliberate effort OVER TIME. Skills that we see professionals perform flawlessly took years for them to perfect. Our athletes must do the same; putting in the with their team, in their back yards, or with a professional trainer. Deliberate effort is not the norm in our culture, BUT it will set you apart from the rest of your competitors.
Every player's journey will be different based on variables including genetics, mental capacity, experience level, etc. BUT something we can all control is our process planning, patience, and deliberate effort. If we can focus on those aspects for our athletes, we can help them truly develop on their journey towards success; both on and off the soccer field!