Benny Sip
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BIG MAC: YOUTH FOOTBALL DEVELOPMENT NZ

BIG MAC

We’ve got this theory in player development that it’s not the "best" that become the "best". i.e “Billy was the best when he was 11. You should have seen him back then."

I learned this, at least, by my experiment; that if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.
— Henry David Thoreau 

Rather, we like the idea that the "best" player is the one that 1. Turns up. 2. Works Hard & 3. Listens. It’s this player, the player that’s able to do numbers 1, 2, & 3 repeatedly over a long period of time that is not the best, but becomes the best. As a trainer and coach, it is this player that you invest in long-term, set alarm clocks for in order to make calls across time zones, and commit to for the long haul.

It’s practical. To become very good at something, the best, a person must commit him or herself to a comprehensive body of work grounded in 1, 2, & 3. In football terms this is typically a 15 - 25 year process of consistently turning up, working hard and listening before anyone of any validity may tell you that "you're okay." That’s a long time, 7300 days, give or take, of racking up second after second, minute after minute, hour after hour. Ask one-hundred 11 year olds, “Who wants to be a professional footballer?” and every hand goes straight up. Rephrase the question, “Who’s going to turn up for training, work hard, and listen for the next 20 years?” Four hands remain. Those are your "best" players. Maybe... they stand a chance.

It’s not just about putting in the time though. Racking up 10,000 hours. As we like to say, “You can sit in McDonalds your entire life, but that won’t turn you into a Big Mac.” Turning up is the bottom bun, the foundation. Hard work is the substance, all the shit in the middle: processed meat, puréed onions, homogenized cheese, and special sauce (read shit sandwich). Listening or “not listening” (Zlatan), being able to discern the good information from the bad - learning - is the gourmet sesame bun on top. Of course, under the critical assumption that the player is an environment where deliberate purposeful practice - play is taking place regularly. Easier said than done.

Every player wants to be a Big Mac. Not many are willing to do what it takes to become one. Few players commit themselves to the process. Few stay in the game long enough to finish the 15 - 25 year journey towards seeing how good they can get at the game. It’s the bacon and egg dilemma. Who gives more to breakfast, the pig or the chicken? Which player is going to be the bacon? Which player is going to lay an egg? Which player is going to be made of all the good shit in the middle - the substance - to make the transformation into a Big Mac? 

Turn Up. Work Hard. Listen. Turn Up. Work Hard. Listen. Turn Up. Work Hard. Listen. Turn Up. Work Hard. Listen. Turn Up. Work Hard. Listen. Turn Up. Work Hard. Listen. Turn Up. Work Hard. Listen. Turn Up. Work Hard. Listen. Turn Up. Work Hard. Listen. Turn Up. Work Hard. Listen. Turn Up. Work Hard. Listen. Turn Up. Work Hard. Listen. Turn Up. Work Hard. Listen. Turn Up. Work Hard. Listen. Turn Up. Work Hard. Listen. Enjoy.

Photo courtesy of Mcdonald's https://www.mcdonalds.com/us/en-us/product/big-mac.html

Photo courtesy of Mcdonald's https://www.mcdonalds.com/us/en-us/product/big-mac.html

Ben Sippola