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Why Training At Home is here to stay

Here at Challenger Virtual we have been learning a great deal about the new online training market whose emergence has accelerated in the last 6 months. We have seen that in some situations this is seen as complementary to physical in person training, whilst in others it is being used as an alternative. 

We found time to put together 10 reasons why we believe Training At Home is here to stay. We hope that this helps everyone continue to understand technology’s place in the youth sports environment long-term. Oh, and we make no apologies for the shameless plug whilst doing so 🙂

Convenience

Parents are finding that they have to work more from home in the evening following the unavoidable distraction of having to help their children with daytime remote learning or virtual school. We haven’t found a parent yet who believes that their kid doesn’t need repeated assistance with this. Of course this is inevitable, and it certainly becomes more of an interruption the younger the child. In more extreme cases, parents may be finding that salary cuts or employment uncertainty is meaning that they have to seek out additional income outside of the 9-5 work or school routine. Therefore the convenience of their kids training at home as opposed to having to get them out to a youth sports practice which may be hindered by COVID- 19 restrictions is appealing, as parents will also be able to use this opportunity to ‘catch up’ on their own work that they miss during the day. 

Habit

Put simply, “virtual learning” has become a part of everyday life. Admittedly its prominence varies based upon a child’s situation (regional restrictions, family preference) but we have all seen a huge increase in online instructional experience. And what happens the more you do something? It becomes a habit. The more you do your habit, the more comfortable you become with it, and the ‘what we are learning’ rather than the ‘how are we going to experience the lesson’ becomes more of a focus. As everyone’s grasp of technology improves in the school environment, youth sports educators can start to leverage it more and more; as they find that they face less and less resistance to implementing a Training At Home model.

Asynchronous

Our customers keep telling us “our schedule is all over the place so we just don’t know if we can make it”. This uncertainty, along with the nature of online instruction, means that educators are having to adapt their lesson (or session) plans so that children can learn at their own pace and in their own time. This doesn’t mean that online training can’t be ‘live’ if it suits your schedule, and recordings of those sessions also help remove the ‘now or never’ feel here. However, designing an asynchronous lesson or session, which includes the ability to ‘pause’ or ‘rewind’, is much more common now. This doesn’t necessarily mean that technology or video has to be utilized, but it invariably will be given the power of video, and it will clearly help ensure players are given every chance to keep up. This means that coaches have to do more than just tell their players “Training will be live on zoom tonight so don’t be late”. Remember- you can’t pause the whole zoom session if your little brother or the dog suddenly decides he has just as much of a claim to the area you are training in 🙂

Kids are also developing at their own pace based upon their own ability and their own home environment, and focus is in some ways more on the individual (especially if you’re waiting for your team sports to be up and running again), so there’s one more reason why asynchronous training is here to stay.

We know we’ve labored this point, but we also believe it’s an important one- we started discussing asynchronous training by talking about the family whose schedule was ‘all over the place’. Well, although COVID-19 may have added to that, as a father of 2 active kids I know that managing all their activities has always been crazy, so the asynchronous argument isn’t necessarily a new one!

Learning Transfer

We also found that the education industry is starting to report that there is a higher level of learning transfer through virtual learning than there is with in person instruction. According to a study conducted by WR Hambrecht + Co [1], online learning increased the retention rates of the learning material by 25-60%! It’s early days in this whole process, but that alone could be a huge reason why Training At Home will continue to grow. 

Longevity

We all know that aspiring elite athletes will benefit from a progressive curriculum (such as the LTAD model) with no external interference, eg. the weather, sideline parents, other players ability levels….I’m sure we can all think of several others! There is no doubt that it is much easier to deliver and follow a controlled and focused curriculum through an online platform, especially with a continuous and long-term gameplan in mind. This concept and emphasis on individual and subjective focus isn’t new, but as technology continues to catch up, offering more chances at interaction, analysis and personal online feedback from a coach, we believe we will see more and more young players start to ask for their own program to work on away from the field and the rest of the team.

Efficiency

We started asking some of our fellow coaches the following:

  • How long does it take you to drive to practice?
  • How long does it take you to set up?
  • How long does it take you to transition as you adapt or progress your set up during a session?
  • How long do you think you spend explaining over and over again to the kids who don’t get it, whilst the others who do get it have to wait?
  • How many times do you scan the sidelines secretly hoping that that parent – shall we call them “The Talker” 🙂 – isn’t there tonight?

You get the idea, time sometimes feels like it gets away from the coach.

And the same is true for the parents- just last week I realized that I’d signed my kid up for a 30 minute swim class which involved a 2 hour round trip once we built in travel time, changing and showering. Probably an extreme example but hopefully you get the point about efficiency of training time, especially when we think about how some of our schedules probably don’t feel like we have as much spare time any more as we juggle work and home schooling and all the extra considerations, restrictions and complications COVID-19 has added to the world!

A 30 minute pre-recorded video designed to be used at home will last 30 minutes, and won’t involve ANY of the obstacles listed above. If the kid isn’t ready yet then don’t press play, if the kid misses something then rewind. You won’t include 1 minute of you resetting your grid in the video. (My swimming lesson wouldn’t include 1 hour of me driving with a 4 year old yapping in the back seat :))

If your online session is “live” you can still cut out the travel time and (hopefully!) “The Talker”. 

Efficiency of time is a major feature when it comes to Training At Home.

New

The definition of originality is “the quality of being novel or unusual”. As educators we want to pique the interest of a youngster, get them engaged, make them curious to discover and learn. We would argue that technology gives us a better chance of presenting something that is new. Yes, a soccer coach can come up with new games, ideas, approaches, but by and large their means of communication and demonstration remains the same, whereas technology is full of new features and tools to add to its originality. It’s always advancing, and therefore will continue to offer new and exciting ways for kids to train at home.

Differentiated Learning in education has shown that the introduction of an original environment can help students who previously may have struggled with content, so this further supports the point.

Side note on this one- The world has got so crazy that the phrase “the new normal” actually makes sense now. Think about it, grammatically it shouldn’t, but it does!

Guarantees

Year round you would hope that you can rely (dare we say guarantee) on more consistent training conditions in a virtual environment than you can an outdoor one! Sure, sometimes technology lets us down too, but the ability to restart or reschedule an online session, especially if it’s an asynchronous video format, is far easier if you are training at home. And if rain is your issue, the logistics of moving your training experience from your backyard to your basement is much easier than having to move a whole team from an outdoor field to an indoor one!

Other things training at home is more likely to guarantee, this time with the parent as the focus: 

  • The coach will show up and you won’t be asked to help out,
  • You won’t run into traffic issues as a parent
  • There will be a clean bathroom (we hope!)
  • If you are observing then you can do in a comfortable environment….
  • …..and you can also make dinner during the session rather than after it 🙂

Emphasis

I think that coaches, parents and players have all experienced this same feeling….”it’s a great session but some of the players already know how to dribble and would be better served with a session on XYZ”. As in any walk of life, we know that all players have their strengths and weaknesses.

This is where Training At Home offers a great opportunity as each player can focus on whatever area of the game they need to work on. Excuse the pun, but the argument for emphasis behind Training At Home’s significance is fairly emphatic.

Reptition

Most of us are familiar with Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000- Hour Rule (in short, spend 10,000 hours practicing something in order to increase your chances of becoming world class or an expert at that said ‘something). We won’t spend time debating that here- smarter people have already done that- but the basic premise of repetition to enhance learning can’t be denied. We suddenly find ourselves in a world where the ability to offer more training (at home, over and over again) is far easier and relevant due to technology. By utilizing this, we can suddenly increase our children’s training hours as much as we want- and the fact that this may involve the same pre-recorded video session over and over again shouldn’t be seen as a negative ‘better than nothing’ option. If the quality of the video session is there, then the positive results of repetitive learning will be too!

Closing Comments

Hopefully if you’ve stayed with us, you’ll now at least be reconsidering any previous uncertainty about the merits of Training At Home. If you already believed in it, then hopefully you’ve been nodding your head all the way through 🙂

We definitely are not saying that it should replace physical in person training in youth sports, but we do firmly believe that it has a place as a complementary, supplemental, alternative or, where needed, a temporary replacement when it comes to a training format. 

We are excited to continue our own development in the Training At Home space, offering both Live and At Home sessions for all ages and abilities. 

Written by Daniel Miller on behalf of Challenger Virtual

www.challengersports.com/virtual

Supporting Article Reference-

1 WH Hambrecht + Co

http://papers.cumincad.org/data/works/att/2c7d.content.pdf