Making sense of generational arguments about skill development

I don’t understand the following argument:

“Players from previous generations had more skill.”

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“Players from previous generations were three-sport athletes.”

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“Players from previous generations played more pickup games.”

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“Players need to specialize earlier and train privately with individual coaches to improve their skills.” […]

Applying lessons from the tennis lab to the basketball court

Every singles tennis match is bound by the same dimensions…. yet each one is a laboratory for innovation, unrestrained by a risk-averse coach or the conflicting desires of teammates (Bialik, 2016).

Basketball often is compared to the improvisational nature of jazz, but it tends to be played more like a well-practiced orchestra with a conductor standing and controlling the action as much as possible. Innovation is more difficult when someone conducts your actions from the sideline, and deviation from the rehearsed plan often is met with disgust and a quick substitution rather than celebrated for its creativity, as it would be in jazz. […]

Whose game is it anyway?

This weekend, I refereed three under-9 boys soccer games (6v6) in a local tournament. At one point, there was confusion between the tournament rules and normal rules, so I stopped the game briefly to clarify with a tournament director. After roughly 10 minutes, the tournament director returned and changed the rules again. […]

Play, small-sided games, and talent development

Nearly every child starts basketball in a 5v5 league, and nearly every week, I watch or referee varsity high-school teams with players who lack basic skills. If insanity is continuing to do the same thing over and over and expecting a different result, why are parents and coaches so opposed to starting youth basketball players in small-sided games rather than 5v5 leagues? Baseball players start with tee-ball, and soccer players start with 4v4, 5v5, or 7v7. Why are there so many objections to modifying basketball? […]

Injury prevention programs, training right, play, and childhood

This weekend, I attended the Seattle Sounders Sports Science Mentorship Weekend, which is a very good event for the burgeoning field of sports scientists in the United States. The best speaker, to me, was Charlie Weingroff. I have heard Weingroff speak a couple times, including last month at the Boston Sports Medicine and Performance Group conference, and he combines common-sense thinking with loads of practical experience and intelligence to substantiate his remarks and his opinions. […]

Learning from Video Games to Increase Athletic Engagement

Note: Originally published in the December 2011 issue of Los Angeles Sports & Fitness.

In high school, we played so much basketball that we self-policed the student parking lot so we had courts to use during breaks, lunch and after school, which meant that late-arriving students parked out past a field rather than on the basketball courts next to classrooms. These days, courts often remain vacant during breaks, lunch and after school as this generation engages in different free-time activities. […]

Athletes Rushing to Sport-Specific Training Sacrifice Self-Taught Skills and Imagination

Originally published by Los Angeles Sports & Fitness, Summer 2010. The Internet’s interminable need for new and original content makes web sensations out of five-year-old Little Leaguers and eight-year-old basketball stars. This season, various sports sites, including Yahoo! Sports, promoted dribbling sensation Jaylin Fleming as the world’s greatest nine-year-old basketball player. Last year, 6th grader Read more about Athletes Rushing to Sport-Specific Training Sacrifice Self-Taught Skills and Imagination[…]