20-hours a week of solid training to create top athletes

Anna Meares signs autographs at the Central Queensland Properties Open Day and Family Fair in Gracemere. Photo Sharyn O'Neill / The Morning Bulletin
Anna Meares signs autographs at the Central Queensland Properties Open Day and Family Fair in Gracemere. Photo Sharyn O'Neill / The Morning Bulletin Sharyn O'Neill ROK201012sanna4

TOGETHER with local clubs our aim at Central Queensland FC is to ensure that every child involved in the game has a positive and memorable experience and develops to their full potential. We will only be able to achieve this by providing coach education courses using the FFA curriculum. Ideally we would like to see club coaches working with CQFC coaches to ensure there are similarities in the delivery of coaching, regardless of whether a player is a rep player or not.

Of note is the fact that we will be working with local club coaches to ensure youngsters showing talent are provided with opportunity of advancement. That said CQFC is also keen to work with players who simply want to play the game for the enjoyment it brings.

I will be available to clubs who want to provide their club coaches the opportunity to experience different approaches to training regardless of the level they are playing at.

Ideally, as technical director of CQFC I would like to see partnership arrangements with local clubs, something that will be mutually beneficial for clubs. This will be achieved by identifying needs and requirements for clubs. The partnership opportunities I speak of include, but are not limited to, football schools, international tournaments, club development, coach education, talent identification, and cost-saving ventures such as product purchases through bulk buying.

I want to eradicate the misconception that evidently exists among some local clubs, that CQFC is only about raiding local clubs of their best players.

I realise that a strong local league is crucial to the long-term vision of our sport. The more players involved in local clubs, the more likely we all are to unearth talent that will go on to represent the region. There is a clearly defined pathway for players to fulfil their potential and clubs have a responsibility to provide players the opportunity to become the best they can be.

At a recent state conference the question was asked, "Is talent innate or makeable"? I quote Gladwell who said, "The first step to excellence often lays in hidden advantages and extraordinary opportunities as well as cultural legacies." What does that mean? I see it as three main factors. Firstly, it's the opportunity to play the game. Secondly, it's how supportive the parents and coaches are in terms of making training stimulating enough to make the player want to keep coming back, and thirdly, the player himself/herself must have an intrinsic motivation, he/she must be passionate about the game.

So in a nutshell, if we want to produce top class players in Central Queensland we must first and foremost work together to provide better coaches and therefore better coaching, we must challenge the players by making sure they are always extended by playing against better players and better teammates, and provide them with more competitive games.

Once talent is identified we must start working to convert that talent into "excellence". Extensive research has shown there is hardly a single top performer who has circumvented the 10,000 hours rule. Just ask local cycling hero and world champion Anna Meares how many hours training she's had to endure.

So what is the 10,000 hours rule? Top players/athletes according to the research complete about 10,000 hours of training in a 10-year period - that equates to about 20 hours a week of quality, purposeful practice. How do we achieve this? Firstly, we can ill afford to push too hard at too young an age because that could lead to burn out. Secondly, parents and coaches must encourage training but without any undue pressure, hence the reason why throughout the development stages it's not about winning. And thirdly, and perhaps most importantly the optimal route to excellence is starting at a young age and having the internal motivation. A good example of this are Olympic swimmers who are in the pool every morning without fail at 6 o'clock and do lap after gruelling lap concentrating on that black line at the bottom of the pool.

Thousands of hours of practice lead to deeply ingrained motor programs, in other words movements become second nature because they are encoded in the brain.

In football just practicing drills will develop muscle memory, but players also need to learn when to do things and when not to. In other words football players have to make decisions in a split second when engaged in a game so repetition without decision making is not effective when it comes to football training. Coaches need to design training sessions that force players into situations where they must make decisions. It is during these practices that players learn the most, because facilitating such practices allows the players to learn from mistakes. CQFC is about enhancing local football because without local football talent cannot be identified and nurtured. We are lucky in Central Queensland that prudent club coaches and committees share the same vision for our youngsters.

Topics:  anna meares athletes cqfc joe fenech

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