Joanne Love

My Blog

Are parents and coaches playing the Futures Game?

Value Model


Sport plays a significant and influential role in the life and development of young people, especially those sports played within formal competitive arenas and managed by sporting organisations.  With two million kids under the age of thirteen quitting sport in the US every year, creating environments where kids can enjoy and achieve is paramount to success. Shared values are a way for coaches, parents and athletes to work together and support each other by finding a currency that each party values and in doing so, benefits the athlete. Differences in values and associated expectations often leads to conflict. For example, a coaches unannounced team’s aims or expectations may not match those of others. This creates conflict with parents – usually at the worse times, like game day. Some coaches wrongly assume they don’t need to share their team’s expectations, or they lack the confidence to expressing the direction they have set. Inevitably these assumptions happen because they are worried of what others may think, especially if it doesn’t involve winning.

Creating shared values are easy when you apply caring, enriching and developing to your schema.



Coaches and parents must acknowledge that there will be different competency levels within the group and/or team of athletes.  This may mean providing graded activities or introducing ‘non-traditional activities’ such as games and creating a focus away from just technique to more holistic and simulated training.  Late last year, I had the good fortune to listing to AFL coaching great David Parkin - he was a great advocate for treating your athletes as a whole person, not just an athlete. Many coaches and parents in their push to see success, sometimes fail to see this view. Twenty years after retiring from coaching his past players still praise his efforts for looking after their future and caring about them regardless of whether they were a great athlete or not. AFL research is now supporting this notion finding that better performance is positively correlated with better athlete well-being, including off-field personal development.



When promoting values that enrich, we are cultivating an inquiring mind which can drive optimum performance. When athletes are interested or genuinely wanting to know more about something they are more open to unfamiliar experiences which creates greater opportunities to improve learning and growth, however, this must be nurtured. When we are passionate about something, we are often curious to know as much as we can about it, and vis-a-versa. The more curious we are to succeed in our challenges, the more likely we notice and learn about the requirements needed. Which in due course, adds more interest and meaning to our efforts over time. In addition, neuroscience research has found that being curious also rewards us for exploring fresh ideas and trying new activities, and in doing so, pushes us to go further with our efforts



Science is telling us that a more important part of talent, is the ability to respond to training, and the ability to train better than our peers. David Epstein, author of the “Sports Gene”, recently stated that the birthplace effect; which determines if the size of the town an athlete was born in had an important influence on their probability of becoming a professional athlete, played a role in future athletic success. Research showed that larger cities, (with populations over 500,000) produced fewer elite athletes than would be expected for their size. In contrast, small towns with populations of between 50,000 and 100,000 produced proportionally more elite athletes. Epstein, reflected that smaller towns offered athletes the opportunity to multi-skill in various sports during their early development, offering a broader skill base. Another major impact is the pressure from both parents and other stakeholders to push athletes too quickly to acquire skills way beyond their maturity, with detrimental effect. Generally, parents and coaches in smaller cities have a more laid back approach, and are less likely to push their athletes for short term gain. This reduced pressure allows athletes to be both more positive and experimental in their feedback leading to better athlete outcomes.


If excellence in sport is the goal of athletes, coaches and parents then this needs to be supported by shared values.  In addition, it allows sporting organisations to maximise their resources towards the same goal.



My new book, Herformance, is out now. Buy your copy here.






3D Herformance Cover