How Gratitude Impacts Development and Why Clear Coaching Matters

In this special Gratitude Week webinar, SoccerParenting.com founder Skye Eddy is joined by the founder of TOVO Academy Barcelona - one of the most prestigious Soccer camps in Europe, who have worked with some of the best in the business - FC Barcelona, AFC Ajax, and the US Soccer Federation, just to name a few. Skye and Todd discuss all things Gratitude, why clear and concise coaching matters, along with answering all your questions.

Enjoy!

SPEAKER INFO:

Todd Beane - Founder of TOVO Academy Barcelona

Follow Todd Beane and TOVO Academy Barcelona:

www.tovoacademy.com

Todd Beane worked with Johan Cruyff for 14 years to create the Cruyff Institute for Sport Studies and to deliver total football training programs to professional clubs worldwide.
Beane graduated from Dartmouth College in 1986 with a B.A. in English Literature. Upon graduation, he was awarded a Rotary Scholarship to attend the University of Sussex in England. Todd concluded his formal studies at Stanford University where he earned a M.A. in Education and a Secondary Teaching Credential.
As an athlete, Todd played NCAA Division I soccer at Dartmouth College before playing professional soccer in the USISL. During his tenure in the United States, he was awarded a US Soccer Federation “A” License, coaching both collegiately and professionally. He has served on the faculty of Johns Hopkins University as Director of the Native Vision Program and later as Director of the Cloud Forest School in Costa Rica.

TRANSCRIPT:

Skye:

For those of you who are here for the first time, my name is Skye, I am the Founder of Soccer Parenting. Our mission at Soccer Parenting is inspiring players by empowering parents. We want parents to understand the power that you have to ensure that your child does feel inspired by their soccer experience, and that is so relevant to this conversation today, as we're diving into what holistic development means, why clear coaching is important, why gratitude matters, all of those things. So you can learn more at soccerparenting.com and our education platform, soccerparentresourcecenter.com.

I mentioned this is Gratitude Week. This is truly my favorite week of the year at Soccer Parenting. There's just so much joy and inspiration and love that's floating around, and we need that, because gratitude really does matter. It's foundational to the work that we're doing at Soccer Parenting. When it comes to player wellness, when it comes to wellbeing, when it comes to establishing trust, and fostering strong community, gratitude is something that is foundational to that. And so this is one of our... like I said, my most favorite weeks of the year at Soccer Parenting. It's just a really wonderful time for us to celebrate all that we are grateful for in the youth game, everything that makes youth soccer better. So that is what we are doing here today.

I want to introduce one of my favorites, Todd Beane. Todd, thanks so much for being here today. Todd is the Founder of TOVO Academy Barcelona. This is a residency program in Sitges, just outside Barcelona, where athletes have the opportunity to go and live in residence for a variety of different times throughout the year to really understand the methodology of TOVO, to grow as people, as players. Coaches are invited, as well, for the coach education. Todd does coaching in the States, as well, at a summer residency camp they have in the State, at Tahoe, as well as through the online coach education that they're doing. He's written a wonderful book that we'll talk a little bit about today, called Clear Coaching. Todd has got just a wonderful story that we'll dive into, of course, a little bit today. So Todd, welcome. Thanks so much for being here.

Todd:

Yeah. Thanks, Skye. It's always great to be with you and your guests.

Skye:

I want to go ahead and share one more thing of gratitude as we pop in here, because this is from a parent whose child is actually at TOVO now. Hopefully, I can pull this off. Oh, I think I have my slides on at the back. Hold on just one second. Just have to do one more thing. Oh. Actually, I'll come back and do it in a minute. Oh, there we go. Okay. Sorry. Sorry. Tech issues, tech issues, but I'm getting there. Here's one more video for you.

Chris Faller:

Hi, my name's Chris Faller. Just wanted to thank TOVO Academy; Todd, Dan, Monica, [inaudible 00:03:21], and all the staff. Samantha went to TOVO when she was 12, in eighth grade, for three months the first time, and people thought we were crazy, and even I thought I was crazy. But I will say what amazes me when she got back, she took ownership of her training, her diet, exercise, her knowledge of the game improved tremendously, and her confidence soared, and the results speak. In one year, she went from being the 14th team player on her ECNL regional team, to making her ECNL 05 team at the Charlotte Independence. So again, I just want to thank everybody there. It's been amazing experience for her, and she's there now, and we'll see of improvement takes place now. Thank you, again, everyone.

Skye:

So, I asked the parents in our WhatsApp group to send a message as a gratitude, and so many people wanted to participate, because everyone wants to thank you for the impact that you're having on the kids and on their families. So I just wanted to share those two is with you. Now let's really dive in here. I want to dive in first to this concept of holistic development. It's a buzzword that we use in soccer a lot. What's your definition of holistic development, and how do you layer it into the work that you're doing?

Todd:

Yeah. When I think about holistic development and the way that we can nurture it in the young people with whom we work, I think about three components. It's managing oneself, I think, principally. Second is to manage space or manage the environment in which you are, if you want to apply it well beyond sport. And then you manage the task. I think when you get children to think in that order, to think about managing themselves within their environment to make good choices in that environment, to accomplish the tasks that they want... Of course, that can be on a soccer field, but that can also be as you head off to college, or head off to school, or take on a first job, or build relationships.

So when we think about holistic education, which is our responsibility, we're focusing on the development of the individual within the collective, and that requires the capacity to manage itself within that environment to the benefit of the task that you're trying to accomplish or the goals you're trying to achieve. So listening to Sam's dad speak, I'm so proud of her, because when she came here, she was a completely different girl than she is now, a young woman. She's gone home, as Chris mentioned, and she took ownership.

So the other element I think of holistic development is to really convince and encouraged children to understand that they are the protagonist of their learning journey, and that they are capable beings, capable, intelligent beings to take charge of that journey. And then we as parents, and we as coaches, and we as mentors who are lucky to work with them can only fill in with some encouragement and some advice and maybe some knowledge along the way. T hat protagonism, I think, is the driving force between children who get it and move on with that courage, and those children that sit back and wait for the world to take it to them. So yeah, managing oneself, managing the task within the environment, I think, are the three critical elements.

Skye:

Yeah. So often, I think what happens in our coach environments with our children, and really speaking for me in coach education is that we receive coach education, as coaches, about how to support players, and, oftentimes, it's about the game, it's about this skill or drill, or something like that. So how do we move beyond that? When we're thinking about the environment that we're bringing to children, or when parents are thinking about what's the best environment for their child, what should the expectations be for parents and for coaches when it comes to what their role is?

Todd:

I like to sit back, and I think where we go we get caught is... or lost on occasion, is when we get into a results-focused programming. So my child must win, or they must perform, or they must make the A or B or C team. But I always ask parents, if you think back to prior to your first child being born, if you had a pact that said that your child was going to be healthy at birth, was going to be in a loving, nurturing environment, and someday would be with friends, kicking a ball around under the sunshine on a field anywhere in the world, would you take that pact pre-birth? Every parent.

I have six children, and would take that, that I have a healthy child, who is capable and engaged and wonderfully is exploring the world with friends through sport. I would take that. So I think all we need to do as parents is to remember that we're grateful because our children are healthy, we're grateful because our children are interacting with other children, we're grateful for the experience of having good mentors, coaches, and other parents along that journey. We would all take that deal. Every one of us would take that deal prior to birth.

So the only way we forget that is to put emphasis where it need not be placed, which is on a win or a loss or A team or D1 or D3. All of this status nonsense has nothing to do with that initial pact. Healthy children enjoying sport for as long as possible in a safe and secure environment. If we maintain that focus, our why, to promote learning and joy, those are the parents that are most grateful for the experience, those are kids that feel that energy, and those are the kids that stay involved in a productive life.

Skye:

Yeah. So advice to parents, if you feel like their environment is a little bit too results-oriented, or how... What mistakes or ways parent can get it right, to maybe frame it more positively, when it comes to the interactions that they have with their child to make it about the process, not the results?

Todd:

If you're in the north, I would suggest hot cocoa, and if you're in the South, just an ice cream. I say that facetiously, but not really. The last thing a child wants to do is get an analysis of the game when they get back in the car. Just go have an ice cream, go have a hot cocoa, if you're up in New Hampshire where I grew up for some of my childhood. If you're in the South, go get an ice cream. Really, it's perspective. Gratitude is perspective, in my opinion. It's to understand how infinitely small we are, but how infinitely important we are when we're together, enjoying this life.

And so I think doing something as menial as just going and having a hot cocoa with your child and talking nothing about the game and just embracing that relationship puts us back to where we were when we started parenting, loving, supporting nonjudgmental people that want the best for their children. They don't need our judgment, they don't need our analysis. They don't have to cap a match or a performance or an exam. They just need our unconditional support with the guidance to live deliberately. I think when we do that as parents, we get the return of that perspective tenfold in the way our children approach the tasks that they will encounter.

Skye:

Has being a parent been in harder than you thought it would as your kids are coming up in the game? I'm just curious. Because it's so easy to say these things, and then things get practical, it gets real. It's like the game, whatever. Has it been harder for you or not? Like-

Todd:

It has been, because as a parent, you have this deep need to protect your child. We expand that into protecting them from failure, but they will fail in sport. The only way that a child builds resilience is what... Also, what I want is to experience failure. But I'd rather have that failure be in a sports field or in a math class or in some relationships that don't work out as well as others in a safe environment. So yeah, it's a constant tug between this paternal or maternal instinct to protect your child and to want them to be self-reliant, resilient children who can take on their own challenges.

So that struggle is a daily one. As I said, I have six children, and I've seen them play anything from kitty camp to Football Club Barcelona matches, and it gets serious, it gets serious. If we don't maintain that sense of gratitude, we can be sucked into the ills of society, rather than the spoils of this beauty we call the game.

Skye:

Yeah, absolutely. Let's talk a little bit about failure or struggle. Something that I've been privy to as my daughter went to TOVO and spent time with you is the learning process that happens. For those of you listening, we have a WhatsApp group for parents. So Todd's putting messages into this WhatsApp group about like what has been taught that day, but also how the players are responding. Some days the messages are like, this was a really hard day, or they're really struggling. I know, for me, personally, Cali struggled with rethinking the way she was trying to learn and how she imagines the game. Can you share a little bit about the process that you've seen repeated over and over again as new players, largely from the United States, but globally, come into TOVO and what that process looks like?

Todd:

Yeah. I think I'm just making them conscious of a process that is human nature. We speak a lot about moving players from baseline to better. So this is not a comparative analysis, this is how are you bringing your best self, and in what areas would you like to improve? So that's a journey. We call it the journey to extraordinary. A journey from baseline to better. We speak a lot, and there are plenty of examples, as you mentioned, on a daily basis in sport. That journey never goes from baseline to better in a diagonal, upward trajectory. It doesn't work that way for anybody.

Anytime we've had to learn something, sometimes we feel like we're going backwards on that journey, and that is a company with frustration or failure, if you will. So one is to make players conscious that if you are on a journey that is arduous, then you are on the journey for improvement, and you have to understand how to embrace that and confront the emotions that come with frustration, anger, angst, stress, self critique. If we pretend that it's all going to be La La Land, and that we're all... everybody wins every day, and everything's perfect, and life is one big Instagram photo, it's just ludicrous, and we cannot perpetuate that, so we don't.

We say, listen, this is an arduous journey, but any journey worthwhile to extraordinary is an arduous one. It'll have as many and, hopefully, more joys as it will those tough days. But without those tough days, we do not get to experience the ultimate joy of massive improvement in our intelligence, in our skill, and our character. And so we map that journey by journaling every session every day, and they have an archive of that journey. I'm sure Cali probably has hers ducked away somewhere from her time with us, and it's an amazing memoir of the good, the bad, and those days that went beautifully, and the days that were maybe more challenging than others.

If we confront it, recognize that's everybody's experience, then we can share in that, and we can know exactly when we need to pick each other up on that journey, and when we need to lead that journey for others. I think that's the most... Yeah. Along the way, we're kicking a soccer ball. But let's face it, most of this is about building relationships and building the type of skills that we would want our children to have.

Skye:

Yeah. It's so hard to watch our children struggle. Our instincts, you're right, are to fix things or to make them better or to try to talk through it and come up with a solution. I wrote an article for Gratitude Week and pushed it out yesterday on Soccer Parenting about my parents, and the key layer for both my brother and myself, growing up. My brother was an incredible athlete, he competed collegially in gymnastics. For both of us, growing up, it was just such an autonomous environment. It was really our environment. We were the masters of the environment, and my parents made sure of that. Whether that was just them following their instincts, or they had this real plan, I don't know, or maybe they were just busy and didn't have time to be involved. Regardless, Shane and I both had such autonomy. Let's talk about that just a little bit, and how autonomy focuses or builds a sense of personal motivation, and also is just foundational to that growth that we've been referencing.

Todd:

When we allow... in sport or at home, allow children to take that journey, as you mentioned, be the masters of that journey, be the protagonist, the skills they're building are... they're going to serve them for the rest of their life. But you mentioned about your parents, and my parents were very similar. I never felt pressure about where I needed to be, what level I had to perform, what team I had to make, what was acceptable, what was going to bring status to the family, what was my 10-year plan when I was six years old.

It's become exponentially more difficult for children, because we are surrounded by this expectation. I think what you mentioned, you chose your path, and your brother chose his path, and those are unique paths for each of you, although you're siblings. What wonderful parents you had to allow you to journey toward your extraordinary, knowing that it wasn't theirs, and knowing that it wasn't your brother's. They gave you that autonomy, and with that autonomy, you built confidence and skill and intelligence and character and the relationships that you have that have lasted a lifetime. So, that's the power of autonomy. Somewhere in there, whether it's gymnastics or math or science or art or dance or music or soccer, it's probably not as relevant as you feeling that that journey was yours to take and yours to benefit from. I'm sure your parents did quite well with that.

Skye:

Yeah. Yeah. I think that's also one of the benefits or one of the things that are just layered into your work at TOVO, is that the players are there largely alone. They've gone to another country, they are living in a hostel with other kids. They really are so independent, and they don't have that ability to have... I know parents sometimes stay and watch the sessions and such, but there's a really a separation there. Do you think parents-

Todd:

That's important, because that's the autonomy you talk about. Of course, they're in a nurturing environment, we have a chef, and we have a den mother, but there's a 35-minute walk that your daughter will remember, of course, along the Mediterranean boardwalk, through the steps of an iconic church Sitges, through the Mediterranean cobblestone streets, and up to the training ground, which is on the edge of a beach. Now, those 35 minutes initially had staff members say, the kids won't do it. They just won't walk. They're shuttled in family vans, and they're dropped off at the field, they're picked up. And I said, "They will do it. And when they do it, they're going to appreciate it." Ironically, it's one of the things they remember most.

What is it about that walk? It is a journey on their way a to their training. It's a 35-minute journey on the way back. So it's everything that's wholesome and noble about preparing yourself, about cleansing yourself, about recovering after the challenges of a training, and to give yourself a sense of perspective. Because when you walk along that Mediterranean Sea, and you see big blue sky and beautiful blue waters, whether or not you scored one more goal in training becomes a matter of perspective, and you're just, as you mentioned, thankful for the experience, and you don't lose sight because you've lost yourself in the minutia. It is the grandeur of the experience and that autonomy that allows you order to flourish. Of course, we need to do that in a safe environment, but certainly, they speak of that autonomy often when they review their experience.

Skye:

Yeah. And so takeaways for your parents that are listening is, how can we create those environments when we're not walking along the paths along the Mediterranean? How can we provide opportunities for our children to experience exactly those same things? I can tell you that I know it's possible. This is Gratitude Week, so I do feel the need to express a message of gratitude to you, specifically, for the transformation that happened with Cali when she attended TOVO for a couple of months. This is my daughter, she's now 21 and playing collegiately at Emerson. When she went to TOVO, she was a senior in high school. I sent her to Spain, so that Cali could experience the world, and that football could give her this journey. My sole intention was just for her to have an international type experience before she went off to college.

Cali came home just truly transformed in so many ways. I owe you so much, or I owe the TOVO and the environment that you've intentionally created. Side note, just in the middle of this moment of gratitude, is that I do believe that any coach anywhere can create the same environment. They have the ability to, if they're intentional about doing it, and you being such... having such a holistic environment to the learning environment really changed her. She's much more... One, she just loves the game tremendously, and I love-

Todd Beane:

[crosstalk 00:22:00].

Skye:

... that she loves the game as much as I do personally. That brings me a lot of joy. But she's also so thoughtful about herself, the amount she sleeps, the quality of the food that she eats, the type of food that she's eating, her diet, her preparation, not just because she wants to be able to compete at a high level, but because she just wants to be the best version of herself possible. She came back with so many of these wonderfully ingrained lessons that you afforded her the opportunity to learn. And so just from me, a mom, I'm especially happy to have you here on Gratitude Week, Todd, so that I can just say that to you publicly, just thank you for the impact that you had on my family.

Todd:

Well one, let's face it, we start with amazing children that come from parents you, that just care for their children. So they come well prepared to take this opportunity. But two, I think back, and we won't share it with the public, but there's so many conversations I had with Cali about, which journey did she want to take? Some of those conversations weren't easy conversations, they were challenging for both of us. They're emotional for both of us to have conversation about, what does this mean? Where do you want to be? Not where you think you should be, but where do you want to be? Do you love the game enough to go play, or not, in college? What is your college hopes? What are your college hopes and aspirations?

Sometimes she was challenged on the pitch, because she would have those days that we've spoken about, and we just had to say, "What does your best self look like? And how will you replicate that and put yourself in good conditions to be that person more often than not?" We talk about proficiency. Proficiency is just demonstrating prowess consistently over time, and recognizing what you want to be. What is the ideal or best self that you would like to become? And then you have to... If you actually do want to achieve that, then the only way to do so is through the holistic education.

You can't eat poorly and expect to be your best self, you can't sleep poorly and expect to be your best self. Those two things. Poor nourishment and poor sleep means you're going to have a poor attitude and a poor performance in any walk of life. So then you start to piece together this holistic puzzle. When a child pieces that together, they grow exponentially, and you see... It's to her credit, thank you for the gratitude, but she decided to make those choices. She decided to take her journey on her path in her own hands. When she did, she's the beneficiary of her effort and her intelligence and her skill and her joy. I just get the benefit of watching these young people grow, and let them...

When you see a child recognize that it's about them and the relationships that they want to... Not about authority figures and teachers and coaches and expectations, but just following their bliss in a responsible, compassionate, and kind way, they blossom. And when they blossom, it is exactly what you mentioned, which is the most common comment we get from the post-TOVO experiences, a transformation.

Skye:

Yeah. Well, Cali is here.

Todd Beane:

[crosstalk 00:25:18].

Skye:

She's here to give you a little surprise message herself.

Todd Beane:

Oh no. Oh, there she is. I won't tell any secrets, but she's awesome. She's awesome.

Skye:

Cali, I think... I don't know if you can unmute yourself. I'm asking you. Okay. There we go.

Cali:

Hi. Yeah. [crosstalk 00:25:38].

Skye:

This is my daughter, Cali, who I wanted to just pop in for a quick message of gratitude to Todd for Gratitude Week. This is something we're really encouraging people to do all week, is to go out of your way and be intentional about thanking the people that are influencing your children, having your children thank their coaches. This is such an important foundational piece of the work that we're doing with Soccer Parenting. So Cali, we talked a lot about you. I didn't realize how much we talked about you. But everyone, this is my daughter who has a quick message for Todd, as well.

Cali:

Yeah. I don't know what has been said, but Todd, you really helped me. I don't know how much you maybe realized, but in own my own journey of personal and athletic growth. My mom can definitely attest to it, because when I came back, I had really different attitudes on and off the field, I was taking care of myself a lot better, and I just... I really loved soccer again, and it just felt like a joyful game, and I had been missing that for so long. I wasn't like we were just messing around at TOVO, it was hard and it was tough, but it was also just so fun. It taught me a lot, but it also helped me grow a lot.

You really have showed me on my... now my own journey because I want to be a coach, like the positive impact that a coach can have on you off the field, and it's something that's really inspired me as I'm doing that, and something that I'm really looking towards to try to keep in my own back pocket. But yeah, I'm just really thankful for everything because the opportunities that I've had and how I've performed on and off the field the past couple years since I got back from TOVO, I don't think that would be the case without you and without everyone else there.

Todd:

I was sharing a few challenging conversations that we had, some of the emotional conversations that we had about being your best self and bringing that. It's your credit. I appreciate the gratitude. I've tracked you almost every game, every follow-up, because you bring me such pride to see you take this journey, and what you've done. I appreciate the gratitude, but I'm also thankful to you, because you're such a model, and you're my next hire. I need a woman on staff. And so get that degree, finish up, and get yourself back over here. We miss you, and wish you all the best as always. We're so proud of you, Cali. You've been brilliant.

Cali:

Thank you.

Skye:

Thanks Cal. Thanks for popping in. Go study, go to class.

Todd:

Hey, you got to earn the degree first, and then we'll have.

Cali:

Yes. All right.

Todd:

Oh, great.

Cali:

Have fun on the rest of your talk. Thanks having me.

Skye:

Bye. All right. Okay. All the little surprises are off, we can keep focused. But I really wanted Cali to have a chance to say those words to you. Like I said, I do encourage parent to have your children go out of their way this week to thank their coach, because that gratitude really does matter in terms of fostering trust. So I'm thankful that Cali came on, because gratitude's always been really important to our family. We're all big on thank-you notes, and that's a big part of what we do.

I'm curious, Todd, about you and your journey, which we haven't really talked about, this phenomenal journey you've been on as a coach that landed you in Spain, and to work with Johan Cruyff for 14 years, to end up marrying his daughter, Chantal, and raise this beautiful family, and to be able to spread the messages that Johan had developed over time to the work that you're doing with TOVO and in the instruction that you're providing. Looking back on your journey, what are you grateful for? What is a little shout out that you might have today for somebody or something?

I've had a chance to travel the world, including places in townships in South Africa, and through South America and other places at younger ages. To be fair, just to know that I do not have to worry about where I sleep or if I will have fresh water or food... It sounds so basic. If we're on this broadcast, we probably have so much to be grateful for. And then I always... I tell people the greatest challenge I had was catching fly balls in little league or kicking a soccer ball. I didn't have to worry about the big pressures of life. I had to worry about being a kid, and I'm really thankful. My parents have passed away, but they know how much I was... how appreciative I was of just being able to be a kid. That meant so much and means even more as I raise children, allowing children to be children and nurturing them with that perspective.

The second thing I remember is... If I pick out someone on that journey, I had a coach in high school. We all did, probably, somewhere along the journey. His name was Jack Wilson. I just was back in contact with him just recently. Well retired many years now. I had feared the worst, that maybe Jack had passed on. I finally reconnected, and we just were right back a million years ago of him yelling at me down the match and getting me off the field and in the shower and back home or into the classroom or getting my grades. What I remember Jack, is that he did not know much about soccer and he was my soccer coach, because he was a baseball coach. I think he just got roped into it.

Skye:

Yes.

Todd:

It didn't matter. It didn't matter. Ironically, we won state championship. But you know why I remember him? It's because he was our greatest advocate. It happened to be that we did not lose the match, and we went and won the state championship. But if you fast forward four years later, I captained the team and I went to Dartmouth, and the other captain of our team, Teddy Croft, went to Brown. Jack Wilson showed up the final game at Dartmouth when I was playing against Teddy in the last game of our respective careers, collegiate careers, and he was there. I still have a picture of big Jack Wilson between us, and I still felt like that safe, secure child, at 21 years old, graduating from college, because that was what Jack afforded me, a safe, secure place to celebrate sport and have an advocate, an advocate four years later.

Now, wow, 30 years later, I really feel, as we got back together digitally, that he was that same advocate. It's just gratitude. It's just profound gratitude to have somebody... There are others that made me feel like Jack made me feel. It was going to be a fun, challenging, amazing day at training, and we were going to do wonderful things, and we were going to take on the world. Lo and behold, with a little bit of luck along the way, we were able to do that with his advocacy. So I'm really grateful, also, not just to my parents for allowing me to be a kid, but to Jack for being the greatest advocate a coach could be.

Skye:

Ah, that's great. I love that. I love that idea of thinking about a coach or role of a coach as being an advocate for a player. I also think that that layers into this concert of holistic development that you were talking about. The safety that you felt with him, the psychological safety, is not something we've discussed, but what obligation do coaches need to have? I want parents to be really clear on this and have clarity on what this should look like. But what does a psychologically safe environment afford for players?

Todd:

To be fair, Skye, there's a lot of issues around this, and even more so, most recently, in the professional ranks, and on the women's side, even more so. So I think we have to be conscious as parents, that never, never, never buy into success over safety, ever. It doesn't matter if a coach has won 15 billion state championships. If it's a toxic environment, it's a toxic environment. This myth, this old school coach myth, that a coach is going to toughen me up by beating me down has to be dispelled, it has to be absolutely eradicated from our society.

Coaches need to be advocate for children, have to nurture them in ways that are positive and safe and secure, challenging them in ways that are reasonable, yes, but to do so with love and with the guidance of that advocacy. And so I think for parents, the best thing to do is to be vigilant. Does your child come home from a training environment content? Not every day, because you can have bad days, but content because they're loving the game, as Cali just mentioned. You know if your child is starting to lose the love of the game. There's signals. If we're attuned to our children, we'll know that it's time to have a conversation about, are we in that safe, secure environment? I want to share with parents that there's also a myth that it changes at the upper echelons of sport, where I've had a chance to play, compete, and ultimately coach and administer.

I met Johan Cruyff, who was arguably one of the best footballers to ever play the game, and one of the most revolutionary coaches to ever coach the game. He always focused on seeking joy and inspiration in training as much as in matches. Joy and inspiration. We're talking about Football Club Barcelona, four league titles, Champions League in Wembley, top of the top. This is the upper echelon sport on the men's side of the game. One of those that played it at that level and coached it at that level is speaking about joy and inspiration.

So my advice to parents is, seek an environment where your child is experiencing joy and inspiration, and stay there as long as possible, and forget the noise that distracts you from that, or tries to sell you something else, because joy and inspiration is what we want in sport for every child in our charge. We just have to be attuned to our children to make sure they are in those environments.

Skye:

Thank you. Thank you so much for those words. They're powerful and so important. It always surprises me the confusion that often exists for parents who feel like they don't have a choice when they're witnessing their child or other children in a psychologically unsafe environment, where they are feeling threatened, emotionally or physically, but just emotionally threatened by the coach. We see this behavior, unfortunately, still way too often in our youth game and the professional game, as you alluded to, and we're starting to see some real progress be made by that. But I really appreciate those words.

At Soccer Parenting, we believe that the most important decision a parent makes is about the playing environment for their child. And so I just really implore you all to just follow your instincts there, and to make decisions based-

Todd:

[crosstalk 00:37:31] children are looking at colleges, or just about to, or thinking of moving. Again, you saw this in the parents WhatsApp group that we've maintained throughout the years. I really would like to dispel a myth about D1, D2, D3, et cetera. This also is a perpetuated system of nonsense. The right fit is the right university or college. That's it, that's it. The rest is the status, that means nothing. Your child, if they find the right fit, East Coast, West Coast, north, south, junior college, four-year degree, associate degree, traveling the world, apprenticeships, all of these things, big schools, small schools, private, public...

The status, the Instagram imagery around labels has to be eradicated, as well, from youth sport. Is your child in the right place at the right time for them to feel that inspiration and to use that inspiration to move from baseline to better as a human being? If they are in that environment, guess what? They'll kick a ball a little bit better, or they'll shoot a basketball a little bit better, or they'll skate a little bit better, or their music will sound more rich. It really has to be about that environment which you just mentioned.

I know that the good work you're doing at Soccer Parenting reinforces that in so many ways. How do we as parents help that environment be the one that's the right environment at the right time for our children? A right environment for one player may be the wrong environment for another. There are no absolutes. I have six children, there are no absolutes. Each of them are on their own journey, much like you and your brother.

Skye:

Yeah. Yeah. No, that's so true. Love it. Let's pull back to gratitude for a moment. We've been talking a lot about gratitude, but how... I want to specifically talk about how it layers into a player, why players feeling grateful and having gratitude matters, and the impact it has on their development.

Todd:

Well, I think you'll have better qualified people to speak to this in your parent association. But we do know that gratitude does a few things. One, it improves the health of individuals in many ways, which we don't have to detail here. It does reduce stress, which is probably appropriate, coming through pandemics and politics and everything else. But the one benefit that I've read about, that I've really... it really hit home was that it actually promotes a sense of hope. Imagine that. By expressing gratitude, it actually helps people feel more hopeful about the present and the future.

That's a pretty strong return on an investment for taking a moment or a breath or a few breaths of our time to recognize why we are grateful for our lives, to have that sense of hope. Now, when we think about our children, imagine wanting to give our children hope, and the way to do that is to share gratitude and to teach gratitude as a habit. What does that look like on the soccer field? Well, I'll tell you. We have a process we say, it starts with priming. Every day, every session, we start in a circle as a band of football brats, and we circle, and the first few breaths we take are of gratitude.

If I know, from research, that that's grounding children by providing a sense of health, and building relationships, and giving them hope, that's a good place to start every day before we get onto the business of kicking the ball in the right direction. The children remember it, and they journal it, and they write about it, that sense of perspective through gratitude, and all of the health benefits that other experts can speak to. But I just love the idea that by expressing gratitude, it becomes an act. An act can become a habit, and a habit can lead to wonderful things.

And so I think we have to... I don't know what the verb is for gratitude, but if there isn't one, we should make one. For certain people in populations, we say grace. But every culture, if you look historically, has a gratitude ritual, whether it's convening as a community, or whether it's dining together. It doesn't matter what religion, creed, or color we are, every religion and every community around the world has some expression of gratitude based in their culture. So either humanity got it wrong, historically, or our ancestors, deep into our tribal past, knew exactly the power of gratitude and what it means to an individual within the collective community. All we need to do is follow sage advice and turn it into a habit. If we do that, we reap the benefits.

Skye:

Yeah. Cali came home talking about the priming circle that they would do before training, and just as Todd mentioned, they get into the circle, they take some breaths. I started layering that into the team that I coach, my little U10 girls. We'd bring them all in, we'd all get close together. Six feet apart close together, and we would take breaths, and we would let the sun hit our face, we would listen to see what we could hear, and just being really present and finding that sense of presence. We would always end this priming circle with just, we're really grateful to be here, really grateful for our teammate.

And so just those little things really matter, and I could see a difference in the team that I coached. They thought it was crazy. The first few times, they were like, "What are we doing?" I'm sure they got in the car like, "We had to do this weird thing before practice." Whatever. But then-

Todd:

Johan Cruyff said, you're crazy until you're genius.

Skye:

Yeah. Exactly.

Todd:

So just take that.

Skye:

Because at the end of the season, at the last meeting, the girls are like... The priming circle came up. That's something that they really loved. So-

Todd:

Isn't it amazing? Because you turned into a habit. While they may not have known the benefits, they certainly reap the benefits enough to recognize the value, even at young ages. So these are things that we're responsible. We know what good nourishment is as adults. And so if we provide that nourishment socially, and in a way that we take care of our children, they will reap the benefits, and then that will become their habit. And then as Cali does, they take ownership of those habits. When they do that, the growth is exponential. And then we can just sit back and be proud of them.

Skye:

Yeah. Yeah. Love it. Love it. Well, there's a question here that's in the chat, that I happen to see. If you have any questions, parents that are listening, definitely just pop it into the Q&A and we'll get to them here. I have a few more questions for Todd, and we'll wrap it up in about 10 minutes or so. So get those questions in, if you have any. There's a parent, Greg, who's asking, a lot of parents are also their child's coach. How would you recommend transitioning between both roles?

Todd:

Yeah. That's probably the hardest thing to do. I would transition-

Skye:

You're Doing that now, because I see pictures of one of your children at TOVO, a couple of them. So-

Todd:

Well, they come because they're training at a club here. They're training at a pro academy here, but they come to TOVO just because it's a bunch of teen having a blast. So it's just for the love of it. They're fortunate they're studying online, so they have some flexibility with their schedule. It's done, and, oftentimes, it needs to be done. I'm not sure it's ideal. Let's just say this, it's not ideal for me to coach my own children. So, if somebody can do it, more power to you. I don't have much advice other than, you're wearing two hats, and how you negotiate that has to be clear.

There has to be daddy time, and there has to be coach time. The arduous part I would think would be establishing that not a only for one's self as the mentor, but setting these rules of engagement for the child. So when my children come to TOVO, I'm not dad. They have to be held accountable and behave, and they can't ask for special things, they can't behave in ways that they might at home because they're whining or whatever they may think is reasonable. As a coach, there's a standard in that environment that they have to buy into and I have to buy into.

And then when we come home, it's hot cocoa and hugs and kisses and bedtime stories. But it's not ideal, I don't think, for many reasons. But because you are noble and you're doing the best you can, I think it's just defining the environments and the behaviors within those environments, and being the first to lead that distinction, so that coach doesn't come home, and daddy doesn't go to the field.

Sky:

Yeah. Yeah. When I have asked that question to other people, or we've talked about that in the past at Soccer Parenting, that's always been the advice that we've gotten, is to be very intentional with, okay, now I'm a coach, and then the second that we close the car door, I'm a parent, and to make sure the kids know that. If there's ever a mistake that happens, you start putting on your coach voice when you're supposed to be put on your parent voice, you have to acknowledge it, apologize. Oh, we got that one wrong. I'm a parent, forgot. Okay. It almost can be a little joke between you and your child. But to be very, very clear on those two things, I think, is-

Todd:

I like the advice. We use it as the... There's a gate at the top of the steps as the players leave, and we speak about that. There's a little small trash can, and we say, anything that's lingering, say, socially or psychologically, or the frustration or whatever it happens to be, it's left in the trash can, and when you're beyond that, you're back to being the wonderful person you are on the way to your studies. I know it sounds silly to make it really literal, but it's metaphoric as it's literal, and there... then it just triggers. When I walk out of that gate, training is over, and my life as a teenager returns.

Skye:

Yeah. Yeah. No, I love it. I love it. Those touch points are actually really important. Dr. Jerry Lynch is a frequent guest in Soccer Parenting. In our conversations with him about sideline behavior, we were trying to come up with a touch point for parents who think... Because I was telling him a story... This happened many of years ago with Cali, but something happened in the game where she was playing on the left, and she just... she kept bringing the ball to her right foot to play the ball, and it just was obvious she needed to work on her left foot.

So I'm thinking this during the game, like, oh, she needs to work on her left foot, but I'm then literally thinking, I'm not going to say anything to her. I'm going to ask, let's up for therapies, whatever. We're walking towards each other, and tag on it, the second that she gets there, like, you need to work in your left foot. It just came out of my mouth. And so we were talking to Dr. Lynch, and he was like, "Well." And I was like, "Okay. Well, what would be a good touch point for that?" And he was like, "Duct tape, just duct tape." But I did it, I did it. I put a piece of duct tape on my chair that I sit on all the time, and that's my touch point for like, I need to let that one go, like, cannot-

Todd:

As a young coach, I spoke way too much and I was up and I was trying to fix all of the issues. Because I was having success, I thought I was having success because that's what I was doing. That was-

Skye:

Right.

Todd:

... not true, because I decided that it was nonsense. And so the next year... I tell the story. The next year, I just bought fruit for every game, and I think I kept the State of Washington economically viable for their apples. I went through bushels and bushels of apples, and my team performed equally, if not better, when I was not using duct tape, but using Washington apples to stuff my mouth full, so I wouldn't spew out the nonsense and this controlling behavior. Of course, as parents, we always make this mistake, and I've made it, of course, mostly when they were younger, and I thought, yeah, I didn't add value. I didn't add value to this equation. So yeah, duct tape, or a big, fat, juicy apple.

Sky:

You actually wrote that story for us in Soccer Parenting. There's an article in Soccer Parenting... There's a few that Todd wrote, and one of them references apples. So I'm assuming it's the same.

Todd:

Yeah. Yeah. At least it's a healthier way than duct tape, maybe. But the touch point is a good one, the touch point is a good one to remind ourselves what we're grateful for, and then to not get lost in those micromanagement details that aren't for us at that point.

Skye:

Yeah. Yeah. We have a really good question that's come in from John Brada. I don't have my glasses on. I think that says John or J-O-A-O, [inaudible 00:50:51]. Sorry, I don't have my glasses on, so I'm doing the best I can. I know, exactly. Can you address how a program... Got my glasses. Can you address how a program environment is not always negative, unsafe, or unhealthy, just because that doesn't work for your family or player that might not enjoy it? It's a very individual-based experience. So I've helped many families try to understand that every decision is their own. Just because one family isn't happy doesn't mean it's necessarily a bad program. So-

Todd:

Yeah. I'll give you a give you a real specific example from about a billion years ago. My mother and I went on a tour, college tour, thankful to her for that, and we drove around down south of Connecticut, where I was living at the time. I had Lehigh, and Bucknell, and Princeton, and I was at UPenn. This story, it may be relevant. I drove toward UPenn, I had an interview at 11 o'clock. By 10 o'clock, I asked her to cancel it. Has nothing to do with UPenn. It's a fantastic academic institution. I just knew that that energy in a city environment was not going to serve me. But there are plenty of UPenn graduates that speak to the accolades of that institution and the experience they had. So it's just about the right fit. If you apply that to sport, it's the same.

If your child, for whatever reason, just doesn't feel that safe and secure for them, that's not necessarily a blanket critique of the club or the coach in general, it's just that coach, he or she does not speak to or resonate in a way that makes your child experience joy and inspiration. But the child right next to your child may feel that that's the best coach she has ever had, and that's just human nature. There's not a coach for an everybody. That's why we need a diversity of opportunities for our children. As parents, we need to do the homework to find out which program is best fit for our child, as we would which college is the best fit for our child, based upon their journey.

Skye:

Yeah. I feel like one of the things that comes into play there is the psychological makeup of your child. Too often, we see children that might have athletic gifts, and so we assume they should be in this top, top environment, when, in fact, that really doesn't speak to what they want in terms of psychologically, what's relevant and important for them. So it is tricky, it is tricky. Todd, I want to ask you about your book, Clear Coaching, as we're wrapping up here. One, I will just say that this would be an excellent gift for coaches during Gratitude Week, because it's a transformational book. If you could just spend maybe a minute or two and talk about why you wrote it, and what some of the response has been from the coaches that you've worked with, who you know have read it.

Todd:

So I'm going to be honest with you, because I have to be, Skye.

Skye:

Sure.

Todd:

We were in a pandemic, and I thought, wouldn't it be cool to write a book? So I sat down, and it took me four weeks and 54 years to write. It was literally four weeks, I'm just... I'm going to write it. I didn't even know. And then I thought, oh, there's something called Kindle Publishing. I literally went through this self-taught process of how to publish a book, figuring out, maybe Chantal would buy a copy, and that would be it. But what was the real purpose wasn't the publishing. The real purpose was, I wanted to see if I could hone and prune my thoughts over a vast number of experiences.

Were there any universal truth that I found for myself through the experience of working through kitty camps, to coaching assistant at Dartmouth, to going to Hawaii, to being a director of a school in Costa Rica, to coming to work for Johan Cruyff here in Barcelona, and being a high school coach and working for John's Hopkins. So I had all these experiences. What I wanted to do was to spend four weeks to sit down, because we were confined here in our homes, in Spain, and think, could I clarify my own thinking, and then articulate it with a sense of purpose and simplicity, so that somebody else may benefit from that, beyond my own edification?

When you do that, and then you pick a cover, and you figure out how to use Kindle Publishing, and you spend hours in the middle of the night, screwing things up, you end up just hitting a button, and it's out in the atmosphere of Amazon. So Clear Coaching is about two cups of coffee worth of reading. It's not War and Peace, it's not going to be on the bestseller list, it's not a masterpiece. What it is, is a reflection of a journey to express what I think is most critical when we as design steps for efficacy to promote learning and joy. I tried to reduce it as simple as possible, so that I could understand it in my own mind and just throw it out there, to share with the universe, to find if other coaches...

I had no idea that so many people would read it and tell me stories and send me messages of gratitude. So I'm thankful that they did so, and I use it as a springboard and as a reflective tool to go back and remind... Because it gets chaos in our world. I have many hats that we wear. If I go back, I'll just read a chapter and say, "Oh yeah, I wrote that. Well, why don't I follow my own advice?" So it's all also a good discipline tool to write-

Skye:

That's awesome. I love that.

Todd:

... and to clarify your thinking on any topic. So whether that's published or not, I think is irrelevant. So I'm really happy that other people read, and then they give me feedback, which only allows me to clarify my thinking more about, how do we promote learning and joy with such great efficacy, that a child feels not only grateful, but empowered to take that journey on with rigor? If we do that as coaches, we've done a pretty good job.

Skye:

Yeah, yeah.

Todd:

We've done a pretty good job.

Skye:

I totally agree. I'm so struck by this wonderful journey that you've been on with creating this movement. I remember the first email I go up from you was just well before TOVO was TOVO, and it was just an idea, and we had the most wonderful first conversation. I can remember where I was standing, I hung up, I'm like, "This guy is awesome. We need to get his voice out to coaches." I just love that you have created this movement in of coaches that are curious, that want to learn a lot about football and how it's taught, and learning environments that we're creating.

So it's not just all about this connection and relationship building, but what you've done is you've gathered this wonderful momentum of coaches who want to go further, reach deeper, love a little bit more, spread more joy and inspiration, and it's a wonderfully strong community that's making a big impact throughout the United States, globally, with these messages. They're so important for our children, they're so important for coaches. I know that there's so many parents that I've been listening today that are like, I want that type of coach for my child, or, I wish my child's coach had a little bit more of this. And so as coaches are learning and coming on board, I think we're in a wonderful state right now with coaches and their desire to learn and grow and impact and really understand what their real worth is in their environment.

Todd:

Let me add on to that. I remember that conversation, I was just scouring the earth and looking for leaders that had a voice in a way that I thought would resonate with me, and yours was one of them. So I'm also grateful to you for having that conversation in a few more sense. But I remember when you spoke about that energy in the parent's environment, and we spoke... There is no coaching without parents. There's no nurturing children without the parents that are leading that charge, and the coaches have to have that sort of relationship. you've put so many hours into making sure that you educate parents about coaching, and coaching about parenting, and everything in between.

And so without that nexus of parent, coach, together, offering an opportunity for a child to grow and develop holistically, we do not have enough power to work in isolation. I think you've been able to connect that. I'm just thinking of people... You have Dana tomorrow, Jerry Lynch, you already made reference. These are people [inaudible 01:00:01]. Doug Lamar, I know, has been connected. He and I are back and forth. I'm learning from... John O. Sullivan, I know has been with you. Everybody that you've listed, I follow up, because I know that these people are the people that I want to lead my children.

Skye:

Hmm.

Todd:

What is it? Is it about basketball or baseball or soccer or... No. I want my children to be inspired by people who get it, who just have a sense of perspective, and every one of the people that I have had the honor to meet through you and through your organization has already demonstrated a sense of gratitude, the already live gratitude. So if there's a common bond, regardless of whether sports psychologists or from England or John O. Sullivan out in [inaudible 01:00:52] Oregon, they are grateful for the little things, a conversation at a bar, a convention, an email, a connection, a question.

When we gather enough people that are grateful to be in the business of nurturing young children, it is not only inspiring, it is the sense of community that people feed into and feed out of, and you've created one on your own. So more power to you, your voice is being heard and the voices of your parents are being heard, and that's what we need. We know how insane it is, and in the United States, maybe even more so than Spain. We need to be connected in a way that's meaningful and appropriate, and people are longing for that more than ever. I think that's what I'm grateful for.

The reason you said yes... You asked me, I said, yes, I'll be there, because I'm grateful to be part of this network, and I know it's just a small fraction of what you're doing. But if we connect the dots between parents and coaches who get it, who want the best for the children in the right way, for the right fit, with the right motivation, with nobility and kindness and compassion in their hearts, then we have connected a powerful force, and that's going to mean something to the life of a child. Not just one, but I'm talking thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, throughout the us and beyond. So I really am grateful. Let me say that to you, I'm grateful for your work, because I know it's not easy, and you spend a lot of time and energy connecting the dots, and I'm thankful to be part of that family.

Skye:

Aw, thank you. Thank you, Todd. All right, folks, we're going to wrap up. I have a quick question for you. A parent is asking if you are going to do a residency program ever in the States.

Todd:

We are going to be in Tahoe this summer, July 5th, to the 15th, and we're putting together, perhaps, a series of smaller clinics throughout the country, because that usually sells out before it goes public, to be fair. So we're trying to think about ways in which we can engage more children, educate more coaches. So it's not just dependent upon our staff, but dependent upon good people. But we will be in the States in Lake Tahoe, July 5th [inaudible 01:02:59] three-month programs, one-month program, two-month programs here in Spain, in addition to team visits. But I guess the best way, if you just go to tovoacademy.com, TOVO, T-O-V-O, academy.com, just sign up for the newsletter, we'll just keep you posted. It's just a celebration of what we're doing and engaging good people. That'll also, of course, list all of the upcoming events to that we'll have.

Skye:

Okay.

Todd:

I hope some of your parents will connect with us. Even if it's not... I don't want to suggest [inaudible 01:03:26]. Even if there's questions... You can manage this for me, maybe, Skye. If there's questions that come into you after this broadcast, not just about training programs or Barcelona or football, but just about parenting and gratitude and leadership and connecting those dots, you know that I'm just a WhatsApp away or an email away. I'm more than happy to entertain any comments or questions, and even any advice I can give to people that will never be involved with the TOVO family, formally, just to connect them with the good people that I know that are out there that are going to be meaningful men in their children's lives. So you know where to find me. You have to get over here.

Skye:

I know.

Todd:

You sent-

Skye:

I know.

Todd:

... Cali, and it's your turn, so-

Skye:

I know.

Todd:

... please, Please come visit us here on the Mediterranean.

Skye:

Yeah. I absolutely will. Thanks, everybody, for joining in. Thank you for joining in with us for our special Gratitude Week celebrations. Have your child thank their coaches. You can look are all about Gratitude Week at soccerparenting.com/gratitude. As Todd mentioned, you can follow along the work that they are doing at tovoacademy.com. Right?

Todd:

That's right.

Skye:

Okay.

Tovoacademy.com. Awesome. Thanks everybody for being here. We're getting lots of grateful messages here in the chat, so appreciate, everybody. Y'all have a great day.

Todd:

Take care, everybody. Chao. Adios.