I read an article today by Ralph Ammer on Medium.com. He spoke to the differences between seeing vs reading and the respective impacts on our thought processes. The idea of logic and precision is attributed to verbal thinking, whereby we assign a label to something in order to quickly move to the next stimulus. The example he uses is identifying a tree, acknowledging this is a tree and turning our attention to the next stimulus now that we have ‘closed the loop’. Contrastingly, visual thinking stimulates our creative side. We do not merely label the tree, but rather notice its attributes, its connection to the environment, we imagine how the bark might feel, how the leaves rustling might sound – and more.

Ammer’s article was a lovely surprise on my quest to find some coaching materials. I was prompted to consider how we are conditioning ourselves today. As I take on a new role coaching U10s, I am now considering what is the best way to engage these kids in a world that now reduces information to a 5 second video loop or a status post. Through several privileged positions of coaching, I have seen the pre-social media minds of an older generation, my own Generation Y and now an insight into Generation Z. There have been many debates on the impact of social media and the digitization of us, I’m just stirring the pot some more.

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Prior to starting up any new coaching gig, I am often asked what my background in coaching is. I give the usual spiel of my experiences, but I am generally questioned about the key differences between coaching adults versus children. To date, my answer has always relayed the same generalization that kids are far easier to coach because they’re obedient. Whereas, the questions that I am asked by my 25+ ladies are sometimes so obscure that I am taken back because I’ve never actually made the consideration myself. It’s fantastic because it really keeps me on my toes.

Rarely do I get the same depth of questions from kids. It’s often more shallow questions with yes or no answers; Is it a race? Can I be on that team? Can we do shooting? Sometimes they absolutely do come up with great, unique ideas, but I can’t help but feel that they are being constrained somewhat.

In a roundabout way, I am coming back to Ammer’s piece to propose the idea that children are losing their ability to creatively think. As with everything in modern times, we are speeding things up, streamlining processes, working with efficiency and precision. Why would we imagine that the upcoming generation will be anything but efficient, precisely focused and logical – when they are immersed in a culture devoted to these values? So perhaps I am mistaking kids’ obedience for a condition of efficiency verging on autonomy.

Will guided learning become absolutely necessary in coaching moving forward in order to stimulate creative thinking? Will kids need to observe unique skills before they can apply them in games, always? If this becomes the case, can Canadian or American children ever reach the heights of Europeans or South Americans who are born into football fandom? So many questions threw themselves at me from Ammer’s article, which had relatively simple messaging.

I would love to hear feedback from anybody, agreeing or disagreeing. Particularly if you’ve been coaching for a long time or had similar variety of experiences!

– F

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