Our diverse group of coaches have spent a lot of time in youth sports. We are and were players, we are coaches and many of us are parents too. We have collectively walked with 1000s of families through this youth sports journey. Over the years, we have drilled down to what we believe is the core problem in our youth sports culture.
CORE PROBLEM: the singular focus on winning distracts us from using competition as a method to refine and develop the character of kids, families, and coaches.
Our Solution: we use competition and the pursuit of winning as a method to refine and develop the character of kids, families and coaches.
Winning isn't the problem, but making winning the ultimate is a problem. Neither is the solution to stop caring at all about winning because that removes the point of the game. Maximizing character development is our core objective at Toca FC. For any person to benefit from our club, they must embrace our core philosophy on using competition and the pursuit of winning as a means to developing the character of kids, families and coaches. This mindset changes the way you approach failure and every success.
MISSING THE MARK
Over the years we have identified three common ways we "miss the mark" on the youth sports experience:
The Obsesser: this is the tendency to be overly concerned about the score of the game, the division of your team and the stats or status of your child on the team. When we make winning the ultimate and constantly compare ourselves with others, it actually encourages kids to cut corners both in their character and in their player development to get a result.
The Pacifist: this is typically a reaction response against the obsessors, but it leads to this tendency to "check out" and detach oneself from caring too much. We are so worried about being "over the top" that we simply accept mediocracy and may even look down on those who are "too into". Kids need help translating and learning from the wide range of experiences they will encounter in youth sports. To maximize authentic character development, kids need the adults in their life to be engaged and supportive on their sports journey.
The Consumer: it's easy in this day and age, to develop a consumer attitude towards youth sports because it's very natural to want the best for our kids, at the best price, at the most convenient location etc. Clubs who appeal to the consumer may stop leading and simply cater to what families "want", instead of serving as a true guide on the sports journey. The failure of clubs and coaches to lead is actually contributing to us all missing the point. Clubs begin to act and think more like businesses who serve consumers, rather than true coaches and leaders. The focus becomes serving the consumer and giving into the desires of kids and families to keep them happy, instead of challenging players to be their best. In the same way that no one dines at a fine restaurant to "work on their character", you can't have a consumer mentality and also maximize character development at a club. If character development is the goal, then a challenging environment is ideal, conflict is expected and strong, but gracious leadership is necessary.
We have to leave behind the obsession with winning because it's a faulty foundation for kids. We have to fight against passivity because it leads to mediocracy and disinterest with youth sports. Lastly, we must abandon consumerism, it leads kids and families into becoming professional critics, instead of great leaders.
To create a great experience for your family, we must be engaged in the process and teach our kids that the true value of sports. The value is not in what we can get for ourselves, but who we become in the process and how we treat others.
HITTING THE MARK
The Engaged Family: we have a "family" approach at Toca FC. This is a "high challenge" and "high invitation" culture. Our door is open to everyone, but also realize this is our house; we aren't a business or a hotel, neither are we a restaurant. The world doesn't revolve around one family or player, we are a team. The right attitude is everything. Growing and maturing in how you handle conflict with others, deal with failure, handle disappointment or success and the pursuit of excellence are the true victories. We modeled the Toca FC culture after the family because it is one of the best environment for the character development of children.
At Toca, we want to maximize the time by focusing our effort on the things that will endure. When your kids "hang up the boot", they won't be able to take the trophies with them into real life, but they can take their character with them.
We hope you will join the Toca FC family and help us create a life-changing experience for you and your kids!