Today, I’ve got a multi-decade long practitioner based out of Japan, Tom Byer. He’s American, but Japan has been his home for 38 years.
As I was writing this intro, which is the only thing I ever script, it occurred to me: What is a practitioner?
For me, anyway, there’s that cliche of “I know one when I see one“, but I don’t really like that, and I know more clarity can go a long way.
Is it a coach at the pro level, a coach at the elite youth level, a coach at the recreational level, a personal trainer, a scout, an assistant, a technical director, how about a club general manager or chief operating officer? How about a player – is that a “practitioner” in the sense we’re speak of? How about a broadcaster or someone who reports on the game? Is a you-tuber, or influencer, a practitioner? How about some bureaucrat pencil pusher in an office, or lawyer at some club or business?
It starts getting quite murky, doesn’t it?
And because of that, this is a topic I will at some point tackle.
For today, rest assured Tom is indeed a practitioner.
Now, I want to make something abundantly clear:
So for instance if you’re currently concerned with the youth game, you can’t understand it without understanding the pro game. If you’re currently concerned with the pro game, you can’t understand it without understanding the machinations behind it, including youth.
Tom is a practitioner who in my estimation has assessed things on a fairly global scale, and long ago chose to zoom into the very beginning of the player pipeline.
That said, in this episode we touch on a number of things:
- The tangible impact of culture on how good a player or nation can be.
- What did US Soccer do, or not do, to place us in these subpar situations we’ve been living with.
- We also talk about the rise of the Japanese men and women’s programs.
- Coerver Coaching, isolated training without pressure, and how it is easily misunderstood.
- What does neuroscience seem to say about development?
Among other gold nuggets.
Whether we agree or disagree on things, it’s always a pleasure to speak with people who have actually worked within a space, thought deeply and consistently about it for decades, adjusted their priors, had setbacks, retooled, evolved and levelled up. All of course which is part of the journey.
The pleasure comes from sensing they have put in the work, real work, and consequently, that their opinions – right or wrong – are not superficial. Then, for me anyway, it’s pleasurable trying to get to the bottom of why they believe the things they believe.
I think this episode will provide good insight into Tom’s work, and like always, provide gold nuggets you won’t get in the mainstream.
On that note, if you are a coach or a parent of a youth player, it’s important you get legitimate gold in your coaching education or parent education from actual multi-decade practitioners who have done unprecedented work and have been there and done that at every level, from recreational to professional player development. And just as important, that their experience is in the environment you find yourself in, the American soccer environment.
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