Redefine Coaching & Athlete Development in Sports: The Framework to Freedom Method That Develops Strong Athletes and Outstanding Individuals – is out and we celebrate with author, Lee Waddington …
Q. So tell us – that’s all a bit of a mouthful – what’s the book actually about? 🙂
A. Redefine Coaching & Athlete Development in Sports is the first book to combine academic research, professional experience, and applied practice to redefine the way in which sports coaching is delivered and how athletes are developed. My background is in football coaching – learning content creation and delivery– and I’m a practicing coach. This book clearly and concisely introduces the academic evidence for how the Framework to Freedom system can be applied to practice, both on and off the field. The Framework to Freedom system focuses on the child as a whole rather than playing abilities only. It examines four key areas: coaching, care, connectivity, and consumption. Using sport as the cornerstone, the system develops each individual child through a unique coaching program that uses a game-based approach underpinned by the science of learning. Outlined in the chapters are current issues within sports coaching-such as blocked practice, individual rather than team development, and the 10,000-hour myth-as well as creative solutions for these issues. These solutions are supported by academic research from several disciplines such as neuroscience, sports science, and psychology. The book allows coaches and parents the opportunity to gain a genuine understanding of the science of learning that underpins the Framework to Freedom system and the unique way in which they can deliver practice to support each individual athlete. It’s an essential resource for any sports coach, parent, or student wishing to develop a new way of using evidence-based theory and methodology to create practices that develop strong athletes and outstanding individuals.
Q. Your background has been in UK football/soccer – indeed you are a practicing UEFA “A” licensed coach – and rather more …
- UEFA “A” licensed and FA Advanced Youth Award qualified coach;
- You have a master’s degree in Applied Sport & Exercise Psychology.
- You have worked for several Premier League clubs, including Manchester United, Nottingham Forest, Blackburn Rovers, Manchester City, and Burnley
- You’ve been involved in the UK professional academy system for nearly 30 years.
You’ve a fantastic track record of exceptional player development, have assisted many players to become professional soccer players in the UK and overseas – so was this down to the Framework to Freedom? Is it a proven concept?
A. Yes, this is a model and approach that I’ve used for many years, utilising the science of learning and a play-based programme to develop players to the highest level of the game
Q. A number of the early reviews talk of both how accessible the book is – something very hard to achieve and something we were particularly impressed with – and also how it applies not just to football but to all sports. That’s really something. What successes have been seen outside of football?
A. I’ve seen my model utilised successfully in volleyball and basketball in the USA. I’ve also seen players gain Division 1 scholarships in the USA and successfully achieve degrees and/or professional coaching qualifications here in the UK.
Q. Tom Watt’s words about the book are brilliant! Of course many of us know Tom as Lofty in EastEnders – but how many of us knew that he also wrote football match reports and features for The Observer for several years, has been a TV sports commentator, authored books on football himself – and was the ghostwriter for David Beckham’s autobiography? That’s incredible! Tom’s praise must mean a lot?
A. Tom has been a huge inspiration to me both personally and professionally. His praise for my book means so much to me as he is an expert in the world of football writing.
“I’ve never coached and never even played at any serious level but Lee’s book made sense from start to finish. With the lessons he has to pass on, that accessibility is a huge plus, I think. There’s so much to learn here and so much to think about: not just for coaches but for players, parents and administrators, too. The message goes well beyond football, of course. The core message — ‘Just play!’ — rings true, I’d have thought, whatever sport we’re talking about. “Tom Watt, Actor and writer.
Q. Is the concept restricted to children? And if so, what ages?
A. The model can be used by anyone, no matter the age, and the concept of the science of learning can be utilised for anyone trying to learn a new skill.
Q. While you live in the North of England, you are also spreading the word far and wide – and not just through the book. Tell us a little more about the company that you’re involved with over in the US.
A. Play Sports Academy is a science-backed approach and game-based youth sports program. We are dedicated to holistically developing young individuals to help them achieve their maximum potential, both as a person and a player, on and off the field. Initially we have opened soccer academies in Miami and Los Angeles with a brand new basketball academy about to open in Arizona this June.
Q. The early reviews are quite something, Lee – how does it feel to receive the kind of praise we are seeing?
A. I feel really blessed to receive these kind of reviews from such prominent individuals in fields such as sport and academia. I couldn’t have hoped for such an array of great people to positively review my book, reaffirming my view that combining science and sport like I have is definitely a unique approach in the world of sport and athlete development
“Waddington delivers a wonderfully accessible guide for how coaches can use evidence-based practices to help athletes succeed both on and off the field. Whether you’re a novice coach or an experienced one, you’ll find this book more than useful…you’ll find it essential!”
Nick Soderstrom, Ph.D. Learning Scientist & Instructor of Psychology, Montana State University
Q. So what’s next, Lee?
A. Book number two is under way (half-written) and is looking deeper into what I call the super protocols of learning within sport. It’s a natural progression from this first book and I’m really excited about combining cognitive psychology and neuroscience research to create a model that can truly transform sport and how athletes learn better and for longer.
I’m also dedicated to Play Sports Academy and how we can help to transform the lives of children, both on and off the field. The brand is definitely getting traction and I’m looking forward to developing it into other key states in the USA over the coming years. We have already built a community of experts in fields such as coaching, research and technology, so it’s a really exciting time to be involved in such a unique organisation
Congratulations on publication, Lee. Redefine Coaching & Athlete Development in Sports: The Framework to Freedom Method That Develops Strong Athletes and Outstanding Individuals – is out now and available through all good bookstores and online retailers.