Take a look at every representative team selection process and there is literature in their guidelines about how the players/kids need to have a growth mindset or exhibit attributes of a growth mindset.
But for some reason, when it comes to picking kids, the selectors themselves have a fixed mindset. Selectors have a mindset that if the kids have been part of their program for a few years, they are better or “way ahead” than the kids that haven’t been in their program.
In Australia, parents pay $2500 for a kid to be in an elite junior team. The fact that a lot of kids don’t even try out for elite teams because of costs is never addressed. This leads to a user pay model, where the parents with money have their children in elite teams. This could be a problem or not a problem depending on the people who select the teams.
What seems to be happening is that the oldest and fastest kid for the age group is selected early on (at U9’s). By U12’s the kid hasn’t learnt how to play football properly, or learned when to use the correct ball mastery move based on what the opponent is doing. But the kid is still fast and is developing/maturing ahead of the other kids. If the selectors had to pick between this kid or the kid born in June, who is playing killer passes and is showing signs of game intelligence, they would still hold on to the kid that has been in the elite program.
Why you ask?
It’s because they have a fixed mindset. The way the selectors see it as like this;
- Kid is in elite program, training 3 times a week with an accredited coach
- The kid playing club football, training 3 times a week (most grassroots club train 2 times a week but the high performing clubs train 3 times) with a parent as a coach. In some cases, a parent is accredited and in other cases they aren’t.
Now the accredited coach that the Elite team has can be a great coach or a poor coach. And the thing is, learning is difficult. If it was easy, all the kids would already know everything they need to know.
But unfortunately, there is a pre-judgement issue in the undertow. The kid that runs fastest to the ball is already on the radar because it’s that “easy to measure” skill. The fact that the kid has a poor touch into the opposition, turns into players and turns the ball over is forgotten. The fact the kid is not looking up to see what is happening in the game is also forgotten.
Who cares. He’s faster, he’s older and he’s winning the ball. But those easy to measure skills are not as important as the real skills that matter.
Look at the NFL and how they use data to decide how players coming into the draft should be ranked. The fact that Tom Brady recorded one of the worst scores and went on to become a superstar of the game, shows how people’s pre-judgement affects our choices.
Coaches and selectors need to also have a growth mindset and show some of the attributes the kids need to have. But we live in a society with a win at all cost mindset and a teams performance is viewed through the prism of the result.