PGA Junior Golf Camps Blog
“You Coach a Child, Not a Sport!”

March 8th, 2019

John O’Sullivan is a best selling author, professional speaker, and founder of the Changing the Game Project. John’s insight and solutions to the issues that youth sports are currently facing makes him a leader in the industry. Read on to learn more about John and listen to his podcast with Dr. Martin Toms.

Every week, we have some amazing conversations with some of the leading voices in sport throughout the world, This week was no different. We had the opportunity to interview Dr. Martin Toms, a Sport Sociologist and Ethnographer from the university of Birmingham in the UK. Dr. Toms has heavily influenced our work through his philosophy "You Coach a Child, not a Sport."


Among our talking points we spoke about the relative age effect, the futility of early talent identification, and how much culture impacts sport performance:

Dr. Toms: "I have spent much of my career and many of my Twitter posts (as well as previous blog posts) arguing that sports (including National Governing Bodies and coaches) seem to spend a huge amount of time and effort (not to mention money) focusing on sports performance and ability/talent by using Physiological and Psychological constructs to improve the performance of those already playing sport. Whilst I have no problem with the use of Sports Science here, such a one dimensional approach often forgets the ‘person’ and their upbringing and cultural history – which clearly can and does have an effect on their sporting choices. They are people not just bodies after all.”

Dr. Toms: “People making decisions about young people and talent are in reality making arbitrary and subjective decisions on where these people are ‘now’. So whilst they may be elite at 14, there is little chance of them being elite as an adult. So why is there such pressure to identify and push people rather than allow them to play sport and develop themselves.”