Sunday, April 11, 2021

About the Academy

 The Canadian Elite Academy, founded in March 2017, was designed to fill the holes in traditional coach and teaching of sports, academics, and the arts.  The advantage is the dedication of time to individual skills instruction by the best available coaches or instructors.  The skilled coaches attempt to achieve the goal to offer sessions that are individual in the instructional methods, which allow participants of all skill levels to train in the same group.  The gender and age tiering system found in traditional sports and schooling in most academy sessions does not apply.  As the sessions are not team building or competition focus, allowing a mixture of talents, gender participants to dedicate time to a single element or skill, enabling them to apply it to a future team, competition, test, or challenge.

Many of the athletes who attend the sessions are very physically talented, coordinated athletes who are naturally good at most tasks put before them. The school day academy and Jump training have created a situation never seen before. The athletes are just skill training, strength, agility, and jump training and not applying it to their volleyball games. It has allowed me as a coach the opportunity to push them past their comfort zone and watch them respond to the lack of gameplay. Typically as coaches, we train our athletes for the following games, but we are just preparing to get better skills over the last couple of months. The only competition is comparing their talent to the mastery of the other athletes in their group. Not comparing oneself to other athletes in groups with the opposite gender, older athletes, and physically taller and stronger athletes is a challenging concept for young participants. Each athlete responds to this differently.

Some athletes have problems accepting this lack of gender, age tiering which is present in the traditional game competition. Many respond with a lack of focus and drive to get better when they do not have games to measure their success. As I coach, I can see the growth, but as young athletes, they do not have the benchmarks to compare themselves against without games.

Athletes feel they cannot compete against others and cover their lack of confidence or success in skills by altering the activity to make it easier for themselves, talking or using humor or playfulness to hide their inability to achieve the objective. This response is not abnormal or strange. We all do not want to look like we cannot do something. Understanding where the origin of the behavior and developing in the athletes a mature approach to competing against themselves, motivate themselves and strive to be better each day.

My son and many other athletes respond the same. It is a coping mechanism to cover their inability to achieve a task and not be the best. Like many of the athletes, my son's natural athletic ability allows him to be very good at most sports almost immediately. Until recently, he did not have to put in a lot of effort to be seen as an outstanding athlete. Now he is considering playing at the next level (University) and has matured to the point where he is putting in the necessary effort to achieve this goal. It has come with maturity and age, but it was not always there. It is a significant part of the Elite training. Many academy athletes have the natural talent to be good athletes in almost any sport they choose to tackle, but they have to accept the challenge that some skills take time to master.

Athletes placed in a group of older, more talented volleyball players or opposite gender become embarrassed and don't feel they belong working with the group. An athlete loses focus and covers their lack of success with talking, not following instructions, not working to attempting to change their approach to the skill, joking, and behavior that was not in line with the activity.

A natural and normal reaction to being the only person in a group who could not achieve a task is not to like the activity; it was stupid, it was someone else's fault for the failure, excuses, and a hard-to-coach attitude. Last year the academy had 400+ participants, and the move to internal competition, motivation, and confidence is a big part of what we attempt to promote.  Athletes need to learn to compete against themselves and no one else.

Working hard on the mental aspect of achieving the next level can only be done with the removal of coping mechanisms and excuses when faced with a lack of immediate success when attempting a new skill. Internal self-talk promotes embracing the challenge and mastering the task. Working on the things that do not come naturally to the participant; focusing, accepting mistakes put in the effort, and hard work, are all part of the growth.

Many academy participants have gained their self-image from their sports success and confidence by being better than most other athletes. When good athletes stop comparing themselves to others, stop attempting to please a coach, and work on being better today than yesterday and challenging themselves, significant athletic growth happens. They need to learn to push themselves, with no excuses or coping mechanisms to cover failing and believe the challenges are something they can do; they need time, effort, and hard work to master them; this will be when they enter the Elite athlete level.

I have been lucky enough to work with and coach, National caliber athletes. They all have the natural athletic ability, mental toughness, and the belief that they can achieve anything with effort. They accept mistakes, and learn from them and continually challenge themselves. They never accept defeat;  never make excuses;  never deflect; put their energy into mastering challenges. They do this for themselves, not for others, teammates, family, or coaches. This maturity takes time and a perfect storm of friends, peers, family, coaches, learning, challenges, self-talk, self-confidence, and opportunity.

The academy will continue to work with your daughters and sons to push them to accept the challenges, focus, and help them mature into athletes who strive to be better tomorrow than they are today. Academy athletes are great kids, good sense of humor, confident, and seek to please people around them. The academy will enhance these positive attitudes and challenges and help the athletes develop the sport's mental aspect to achieve their goals.

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