Development. It’s the touchstone word every team in the world uses. Even NHL teams use the term with current NHL players. It is the probably the most widely used word, and parents and players still don’t really understand the meaning or context.
When we are talking about development, we are talking about individual skill and competitive player development.
Parents and players somewhere, somehow, came to define “development” as a measure of “competitive level”. Development takes place at every level, and development is not indicative of a league or team level of play.
Every day at a showcase or team tryout you hear people using “development” in conversations. Great. Everyone understands that is what each team is supposed to be doing with players. “Development” has nothing to do with leagues other than leagues calling themselves “development leagues”. Development is a team and coaching matter.
So, the next time a coach says “we are all about development”, or “we will develop your son”, or anything along those lines, make sure you ask some questions.
Make sure you ask them what their plan for development would be. Ask them how they would implement that plan. Ask them what “results” you can expect to see by the end of the season. Ask them what they think a successful year of development would mean for your child the next season.
What are the off ice training plans? Other than practices what do they offer in the name of “development”? When players are not having success in a system, how do they go back and work on what that player may need to become successful in the system?
Talk, talk, talk. If you don’t ask those questions you should not expect “development” for your child. If coaches can’t answer those questions, you should not expect “development” for your child.
There is a real simple way to evaluate your situation when you are looking for player development. It is a matter of getting honest with yourself on where you as a player are in your development. Look in the mirror and get really honest with yourself. Sit your child down and get really honest and evaluate your position.
Right about now, players are getting lots of emails for camps. Hundreds of them really. Everyone wants to play at the “next level”. Everyone wants “development”. The problem is “next level” and “development” do not always go hand in hand for players.
“Development” happens over time. Over time you will see players getting better when they are in the right environment. That environment comes with great practices and the appropriate level of competition. This is where parents and players get confused.
The appropriate level of competition for most players is not the level of competition they think they should be playing.
Most players will chase “development” through camps this summer for teams that are at a level the player is not prepared for. Spending the summer chasing camps will actually hinder your development not enhance it.
Your “development” happens in the gym in the summer. Your “development” is best served by being honest with yourself and picking a team at your appropriate level, and then dominating at that level.
If you are not dominating at your current level, what makes you think you are ready for “development” at the next level?
Joseph Kolodziej – Adviser