9/23/13

INTERVIEW WITH TOM TURNER – USA NATIONAL SOCCER INSTRUCTOR

Tom Turner steps up to the plate for  the 5th  in the  FOOTBLOGBALL essential interviews series .
Tom Turner PHD  is director of coaching and player development at Ohio Youth Soccer Association North .
He is also a USA National Instructor and is on the US Soccer national Coaching Committee .
Tom kindly took time out from a very busy schedule to share his vast knowledge and experience in answering some essential  questions .

FOOTBLOGBALL : Seeing as “genetically influenced” doesn’t mean “genetically determined,”
we can say that talent is not prepackaged at birth, but takes time to develop.
One of the most important discoveries in recent years is that the environment triggers gene expression.
Talent develops through the interaction of genes and the environment. Would you agree?

TOM TURNER : Absolutely…  Gladwell’s Outliers come to mind. Perhaps the most practical post-Soviet example of this theory is Australia, which has become the most successful Olympic country, per relative population, by identifying youngster’s physical traits and encouraging them to participate in sports where they have a chance to become nationally and internationally competitive.
Of course, the top young athletes (those with the genetic potential to become proficient or highly proficient) still need to develop their passion in order to maximize their potential. Not everyone can be in the right place at the right time with the right coaches; or simply grow up in a developmental environment that incubates top level performers. Some get lucky, by birth or otherwise. Young soccer players in Argentina (~40 million population) and Brazil (~200 million), for example, still have far more opportunities to become professional soccer players than youngsters growing up in countries of similar size, such as Poland (~40 million) and Pakistan (~180 million). On a mass level, culture (environment), it could be said, is everything, when it comes to soccer development!

What tips would you give in helping create the right environment for player development?

“Joy” (Krechmar called it “Delight”) and motivation are clearly important factors in whether early experiences turn into life-long passions. Coaches need to treat young children like young children, not just young soccer players. Youngsters often come into soccer without an emotional hook to the sport and need experiences that make them want to come back; experiences that encourage them to play and practice independent of adults.
The irony of soccer history is that the top professional and weekend amateurs alike developed their passion from playing in the streets and practicing alone. Organized sport has forgotten that. I see youth coaches trying to organize players into lines to practice discrete skills before they have any clue how, or why.  It’s like giving a kid a computer and having them practice striking the letter “K” for an hour. Learning works best from global to specific, not the other way around. Youth soccer needs to base the developmental process on “play” and then find the right moments to encourage technical and tactical development.
Another factor is “managed” competition. All kids like to compete. It’s motivating. It’s fun. The joy is in striving to win a game that could go either way. However, not all kids have the experience to engage in formal competition. It is quite evident that some have a genuine enthusiasm for the sport and will engage in group and self-training activities; while others are simply participating because their parent’s signed them up. There are young kids who can’t dribble or pass or control the ball with any purpose who are playing for points and trophies. Clearly, when we have organized leagues for six and seven and eight and nine year-olds who aren’t ready to put on a uniform; and have coaches who manage games to win – at the expense of enjoyment and development, we have a serious environmental problem.

FOOTBLOGBALL : In the USA, what developments have you recently seen in attitudes to player / coach development and what ones do you hope to see?

TOM TURNER : Perhaps three movements come to mind….
* First…Early in the decade of the 2000’s, we started to move young players into smaller-sided games to provide an environment that catered more to their physical and cognitive levels and, more importantly, their enjoyment. That change has been incredibly beneficial for both players and coaches. Yes, there are still areas of the country that play 8v8 or larger – and with offside – at U10, but there is just no discussion of a return for those who have taken the political plunge.
* Second…A few years ago US Soccer literally gave up on the willingness, or capacity, of the two leading youth soccer organizations’ (US Youth and US Club) to become more player-focused at the elite level. In response, they organized their own National Development Academy with 84 clubs competing at U16 and U18. It’s expensive, it’s courageous, it’s exclusive, it has its’ problems, but it has helped change attitudes and pushed player development issues to the beginning of discussions. Periodization and sports science, substitution rules, roster flexibility, and coaching certification are some of the key initiatives that have flowed down to the mainstream. Recent progress aside, however, we still have too many obstructionist decision-makers at the youth level who have not evolved with the game. While this is particularly problematic for elite level programming, it also continues to impact training and development models for entry-level players.
* Finally, US Soccer is currently undergoing a significant philosophical redesign that has raised the bar on coaching education expectations and will directly impact player development. Over the past 30 years, or so, we have evolved from teaching technique and tactics as separate models; to an approach that acknowledged the integration of technique with tactical situations; to a model that situates the game as the central focus and challenges coaches to improve individual players within the structure of their teams. Having coaches who work backward from the challenges of the game (i.e., building through MF), rather than forward from “passing,” is 180 degrees from the 1980’s.

FOOTBLOGBALL:Our brain’s grey matter that has been growing through our childhood shrinks dramatically in our teen years, while at the same time, white matter, made up of axon fiber connections between brain cells, increases. This white colour comes from myelin and is a key factor in regulating the speed in neural circuits so that they combine at the right time. As football is a flexible circuit activity where the player must understand and solve many problems and apply the right skill to these challenges.
If 6-12 years is referred to as the “golden age” for player development, then could we not describe, with all that is happening in the brain , the teenage years as the” Golden Age ” of  brain game development?

TOM TURNER : Yes and no. I rather think of the process as a developmental continuum.
In the early years, as players become more comfortable with the ball, they should move from games that help them keep possession of the ball; to games that help them share possession and support around the ball; to games that help them circulate the ball and move away from each other; to games that develop positional ideas; and, finally, to games that develop broader tactical ideas.
The concept of “contextual interference” is significant and important to me. One of the lessons from street soccer is that there are no “correct” technical solutions to tactical situations. Either someone has skill, or they don’t.  When we repeat a technique over and over in a “modern” training session, the myelin sheath forms muscle memory, which is fine for transfer – if the tactical situations are recognizable. Contextual interference suggests that varying the ways a technique is practiced forces the brain – and the muscles – to be more adaptable to novel situations.  The speed of “learning” is not as rapid as, for example, passing back and forth in a repetitive way, but the long-term outcome is a more skillful performer. By way of example, just think of the variety of tactical situations which call for the ball to be manipulated (passed, dribbled, received) by either the inside or outside of the foot.
This concept also applies to tactical learning.  If the training situations never vary in rhythm, or complexity, or physical demand, or intensity, the players never have to react to novelty or uncertainty or insecurity.  The vision and skill of the coach are critical to this process.  
So, from my perspective, youth training needs to have a heavy emphasis on play-based games which include attack, defense and transition. Because, developmentally, the range of possible training numbers will start small, but increase incrementally between U6 and U18, the corresponding range of technical and tactical solutions will provide for more focus on skill development early, and progress to focus more on team-tactical training later on.



FOOTBLOGBALL : We hear a lot about agility and speed in the modern game, but for me and especially at youth level, perception and decision making should be trained at the same time, otherwise  there is a risk that there will be a breakdown in the connection between how the young player experiences training and the real game. Perception can improve a player’s agility while the ability to perceive and react quicker (make a decision) can help the speed in which an athlete can move in a new direction.
Can you discuss this statement?

TOM TURNER : There was a study of chess grandmasters and beginners that compared recall of the chess board organization when the pieces were arranged randomly. Because the “picture” was unfamiliar to both experts and novices, recall ability was similar between the two groups. Message… familiarity is central to recognition and speed of play. This is also true of computer use, of driving, of eating, of showering, of walking, and, indeed, of any skill that benefits from degrees of automation.
Despite what people outside the game might think, soccer is essentially a game of predictable tactical situations. The more alert young players become to recognizing the tactical cues, the faster they can read the game situation, the quicker they can play, and the more able they are to react to emergency situations when the game goes off-script.
The long-term developmental process has to start slowly and simply – Bobby Howe (former US Soccer Coaching Director) always talked about the game essentially reducing to 2v2 – with the main goal of coaching being the continued complication of the environment as players demonstrate their learning. On one level, youth soccer is about learning basic concepts, such as support or penetration; on another, it is about applying these basic concepts to functional roles.

FOOTBLOGBALL : Research suggests that young players only retain 18% of concepts that are learned passively, but 68% of that which is learned actively, thus implying the need for a more player centered training rather than coach centered.
Can you suggest how, by using your methods, this can be achieved?

Two keys for me…. The manipulation of practice variables to structure games and the use of the Socratic approach to helping players understand their thought processes.
The coach-centered approach calls for the adult to provide all the technical and tactical solutions by dominating the air space. In contrast, the player-centered approach calls for the adult to help players arrive at solutions by engaging them to think about tactical cues and the assessment of game situations. For example, the coach might ask the players about the rationale for playing to three goals and when to recognize the moments to penetrate or possess. .
Ultimately, the end point of the coaching process is the same – assuming the vision of the coach is constructive play and not soccer-by-numbers – but the player-centered approach is emotionally different, because the players are encouraged – and importantly – “assisted” in taking ownership for their own learning and their own decision-making.
The training activities become an important key in the learning process. As the coach, we can control the variables within training games; and, to ensure good transfer from practice to match, the training games should “generally” take place within a rectangle and play through 180 degrees. There are obviously reasons to deviate from this philosophy, but this is the default approach.
The coach can manipulate the number of players on each team, the size and shape of the field, the method of scoring, the game time, the specific conditions of the game, and the playing rules. With young players, playing to one goal or two goals or three goals or a line or a target changes the technical and tactical demands. Playing to a small goal is different from playing to a regular goal with a goalkeeper. Playing with – or without – an offside line adds complexity; as does having offside at midfield, or deeper. A larger or smaller field impacts the challenge. As players grow in experience, positional coaching and the arrangement of numbers and connections within and between lines provides more complexity to the training.
It is the ability to manipulate these variables in a purposeful way that distinguishes the “art” from the “science” in the coaching process.
Becoming player-centered is not always an easy journey, but players invariably respond more positively to being central to their own learning. Assuming the coach has accumulated the soccer knowledge to have evolved a vision, the art is in learning how to question and steer conversations in non-threatening ways. There has to be lots of room for patience and mistakes and, perhaps, the most visible sign of a player-centered coaching approach is sideline behavior during games.  Those who spend their time pulling the strings for their players and berating them for their mistakes are unlikely to be following a player-centered approach.  
 
FOOTBLOGBALL : When you work with a club at the grassroots level, the question of talent Identification always comes up. For me it is more a question of talent observation. What environment does the club /coach create for the player? Is it a winning first culture? Something that I associate with talent identification (base decisions on physical qualities and identify the best player to win now, short term.) possibly creating extrinsic motivation. Where perhaps a “development  culture “ OBSERVES talent and offers a safe, challenging and exciting environment and encourages intrinsic motivation, therefore enjoyment and a more long-term approach where the player takes more responsibility for his own development.
Would you agree with this statement?

TOM TURNER : I consider myself a teacher who coaches soccer. The primary objective with young players is always to create an environment that encourages them to return the next week, and the next season, and the next year. There is no delayed gratification with young players. They need enjoyment NOW!
With enough positive experiences early on, there is a good chance young players will become motivated to engage in training that purposefully starts to smooth the rough edges – and motivating enough to self-train. When this emotional hook lodges, we have a different player and a more attentive student. Training can take on different forms and the coaching can change gears. I think too often in youth soccer, coaches take emotional commitment for granted and then treat children as though they are apprentice professionals when they just want to have some fun.
If we worried more about individual development, we would probably have more players remain in the game. Because soccer is too competitive (results-based) too early, we often expose players to the pressures of team play before they are ready. This creates a serious contradiction of purpose for those who have good intentions towards long-term development, because many parents don’t have the patience or the soccer background to appreciate the timeline. Parents often equate winning with development, regardless of the quality of the soccer, and that puts the teacher-coach at a significant disadvantage in the American environment, because the marketing of success is seductive.  
Children have a vast appetite for learning but in my opinion it dissipates dramatically when they enter our out-of-date education system. The same can be said for football where I think the greatest conceit of coaching is that - young kids learn anyway. What is most important is the environment created by the coach and the coach’s ability to not look at how he coaches, but more how his young players learn.
Would you agree? And what tools would you suggest that coach use with his young group
In modern societies, devoid of free play, I have to come back to motivation. The players who appreciate the connection between training and improved skill / improved performance will generally go further than those who are either afraid of failure, or are simply not very passionate about soccer. There are lots of examples of players who have become very good, but who came from less-than-ideal environments. These might include players who grow up in rural areas, or traditionally non-soccer cultures; players who “learn” under poor coaches, or who played for supportive parent-coaches with no soccer backgrounds; players who have been written off at young ages; and players who come to the sport at an age that suggests they don’t have enough time to become proficient.
Your question points to the issue of good teaching and I am reminded of the phrase, “What we teach is not necessarily what is learned.”  When a coach goes through the mechanics of teaching without completing the feedback loop and observing the response from the players, they are not really teaching. Maybe they are just performing, or still learning how to manage activities?  We all have to go through those early stages in the learning of our craft.
Ultimately, we are not really coaching team play as much as coaching individuals to become better in their role in team play. Information has to be specific to individual players because every player is at a different place in terms of their understanding, their soccer personalities, and their interpretation of the game. In most youth soccer situations, there is always a tension between the coach’s vision of the game and the realities of player ability and potential. When the coach can pragmatically incorporate the soccer personalities at hand, there will be a positive learning environment.  
Rinus Michels talked about starting the teambuilding process at the first practice. This makes sense because, when working with developmental players (pre-teens), there is much more time to shape ideas and soccer personalities, so the developmental vision becomes central to the process. From the perspective of teaching constructive soccer, we would encourage young players to control the ball with their first touch. We would encourage them to read the game to decide whether to shoot, or dribble out of pressure, or dribble past an opponent; or pass the ball forwards, or backwards, or sideways. We would encourage them to move with the game. We would encourage them to try to recover the ball when it is turned over. Basic, but important ideas.  
When it comes to the youth environment, young kids need emotional support, and enthusiastic teachers, and positive role models, and helpful information … They don’t need to be chastised for their mistakes or their perceived lack of effort, or given absolutes, or substituted for making mistakes.

FOOTBLOGBALL : At the heart of football coaching is a teacher and a learner. Where both need to be…
(a) Adaptable : The coach must show adaptability in response to changes in the players environment ( School , home , growth phase ), while the player must show adaptability to changes in his environment and be able to respond to changes that are happening live within a game. Often it is a woods-from-trees scenario for the young player.
How can the coach bring greater clarity toward helping the player understand the changes in his environment both on and off the field?

TOM TURNER : Not easily… The coaching profession has become very technical in a broad sense: A far cry from the old physical education model. Today, good coaches must have the ability to teach in multiple styles, as there is clearly no one way to teach, or one clear path towards learning.
Coaches must also have some understanding of developmental psychology, some understanding of exercise physiology, some understanding of sport pedagogy, some understanding of sports science; and always be willing to negotiate the next way to communicate with youngsters who seem to be more comfortable texting and tweeting than talking face to face. Even e-mail is starting to be regarded as snail mail!  

FOOTBLOGBALL (b)  Creative:
How can the coach encourage creative thinking?

TOM TURNER  : Simple, I think…Stop coaching in absolutes!  Soccer is supposed to be a player’s game, with the coach’s role to help steer thinking towards a single vision. If the coach wants to string-pull the decision-making – soccer by numbers, there isn’t much room for creativity. On the other hand, if the coach appreciates the need for flexible solutions and is willing to take the associated risks, creative thinking is almost guaranteed.
Coaches who encourage constructive, build-up soccer are likely to enjoy the freedom of expression that makes the game so enjoyable to play. Of course, not everyone has the talent to dribble out of their own goal area, but there is even a time for that in the long-term development process. And, of course, you could happen to be Brazilian!

FOOTBLOGBALL : Our brains by nature look to save energy by automising; a process which can create a conflict between our comfort zone and our development.
Discuss…

TOM TURNER : Yes, but Paiget’s concepts of assimilation and accommodation point to our brain’s constant adaptation to stimulus that expands the breadth and depth of our learning and understanding. Basically, we’re hard-wired to learn and hard-wired to constantly adapt.
The social learning theories of Vygotsky are also important here. When an older, or more experienced person works with us, we can learn more quickly than otherwise would be the case. Think about the impact on learning when a parent shares his or her skills with their offspring.  Parents figure out when their child is ready to take on a new challenge by their reactions to prompts. When the child is ready to pay attention, they respond. It takes time to finally stand up after being held vertical. It takes time for a new word or sentence to come out after hearing the parent repeatedly utter the sounds and intonations.
Perhaps the message for coaches is that players can always learn, but the types of skills and concepts they are asked to perform or understand have to be within their realm of possibilities. Try teaching side volleys or individual defending to seven year olds!
Having older teammates or more experienced teachers will increase the speed of learning.  So, while we are learning to automate a kicking skill, for example, we can also learn to adapt the basic mechanics to similar variations of the skill, such as moving in different directions or connecting with balls arriving at various heights or speeds. Similarly, the basic concept of a “give and go” can be expanded to front walls and other variations that possess rather than penetrate.

8/18/13

World Game analyzed

World Games analyzed

The information in the korfball tournament of the World Games was brief. NLKorfbal actually did it the best.

After the tournament statistics were available for us at home. The figures were collected in the 'Result Book'. (Swiss Times)
The design of the collection per match was organized. Although there was a slightly different design used as we know for Korfball League. Par example:  I could not see who was the personal opponent in the various 1-1 duels. This is needed to interpret the figures more precisely. Also, I could not find the figures of the attackers rebounds.

When the IKF site was proclaimed that Dimitry Kazachkov (RUS) and Suzanne Peuters (GER) were the top scorers of the tournament, I responded immediately without the knowledge i have now. I found that this information was totally incomplete. This kind of information brings an outsider on the wrong track. It looks like the information that a car needs less time to drive than a cyclist from Eindhoven to Amsterdam


They have indeed scored the most goals.
But  we need more data then the IKF provided us! It is a pity that IKF did not do this!
The reality is that Mr. Kazachkov played 5 full games (250 minutes) and in that time he scored 35 goals from 159 attempts (= 22%); Mrs. Peuters played 4.5 games, 225 minutes (a half match against Belgium) and scored 15 goals from 63 attempts (= 23 .8%)
If you look at this more nuanced than the Russian man with this percentage is far below the real shooters. Peuters is close behind the real top scorers.

The values ​​of the figures will be greater if there are images (videos), and thus the information can be fully analyzed. When are these images available?
Yet we can be cautiously draw some conclusions:
1. The playing schedule of korfball tournament is too heavy for the countries that cannot line up like the Netherlands and Belgium a homogeneous team. (Players that are equivalent to each other and are interchangeable in the line ups)
Netherlands and Belgium have 14 more or less equal players and can therefore give players after playing a match,  the next day a rest.
Netherlands and Belgium, can start the tournament with the 'second' line up so they can save the 'best' team. These players will play the final(s)..

Example shows that Chinese Taipei brought two men who only play 50 minutes each,  but in two different matches. Probably they are too weak for the other matches

Portugal takes up a guy who never plays and another man who plays only  34 minutes (!), A woman who only plays 71 minutes and another woman who plays 21 minutes. The physical strain of playing five games with  a similar line up of players, in 5 days is too heavy and will be reflected in the course of the tournament. Instead there to the end of the tournament, all matches should be highlights including the matches for the places 3-8 played, the matches were played by tired players. For even those countries that finally ended at positions 5 to 8 these teams played all matches with almost the same so tired players.

2. The above leads to the conclusion that teams have enough players but their capacity is not nearly equivalent. In the beginning of the tournament the better players are needed to ensure a position, before the finals During the finals the better players are obviously needed in order to legitimize the  participation and the costs of this. Why do coaches bring these players ot such important tournament if they don’t play any minute?

3. These two findings compel IKF and KNKV (Top6 project) to reflect on the design of international tournaments. It is to consider organizing two types of  International tournaments (World Cup, European Championship, WG, EC) can be played in the form now 8-8 as usual but 4-4 is a good opportunity for international championships. Especially the tournaments like World Games.

4. The new rule of substituting will  indicate the current state of affairs too little solace. Simply because there is too little equality within the selections.

5. For the IKF is recommended during the World Games to introduce another discipline: 4 on 4. The stage is smaller. I believe myself to a field 15 x 28 meters. That's the size of a basketball court. That is so easily available internationally. And so is the organization of the WG korfball tournament will be cheaper and we may expand more guidance etc.
Another option is a tournament with more rest days. This opportunity will not be appropriate for the World Games tournament, given the additional costs

6. When IKF discipline one division korfball (4-4) enter as WG discipline, instead of two divisons korfball (8-8) remains preserved the essence of korfball. (What with rugby rugby 7 and 15 is not the case)                            The duration of the time: I suggest that is played in four quarters of 15 minutes. That means resting briefly three times. This keeps korfball yet also a game of endurance and concentration,

Perhaps this is a subject that can be discussed at the congress in Portugal. 

5/14/13

KORFS VS BALLS (initiative by Bandor Nagy)


Hungary developed a great plan: a worldwide korfball competition. It is not complicated, not expensive and the Hungarians are ready to support us with ideas and advice on how to run this activity.
The IKF EXCO and the Organising Committee expect many countries will embrace the Hungarian idea. Strong youth means a strong future, take your responsibility and join with the other countries to participate in the International Youth Korfball Day.

International Youth Day Celebration
We will play korfball at 15 locations on 15 June in Hungary. At each location we will form two teams: the Korfs and the Balls (there will be several age groups at each location). We will tally the results of all the Korfs teams and the Balls teams aggregated, so it will be a country-wide korfball match between the two teams. We will have an interactive map where the visitors can see the results at each location, and by age group, including all the names of the players who played at that location. Next to the map, the big score board will show the progressive overall standings. At the end of the day we will have the final result between Korfs and Balls. We will also post pictures, videos and reports from each location.
Our goal is to have 15 locations, 50 teams and 1,000 goals scored in Hungary! We can also extend this project world-wide and invite other nations to take part also so we can make a worldwide korfball match, where we can aim for 1,000 locations, 5,000 teams and 100,000 goals!
Bandor Nagy

4/22/13

World Games Cali Columbia 2013


FOR IMMEDIATE PRESS RELEASE
During the International Korfball Federation Executive Committee April 21st 2013 meeting the IKF Exco made a draw to establish the pools for the World Games Korfball Event to be held from 31 July to 4 August 2013 in Cali, Colombia.
The World Games is the most important korfball event in the IKF’s 2013 calendar.
The result of the draw is:
 
POOL A
POOL B
1.
The Netherlands
Belgium
2.
Great Britain
Chinese Taipei
3.
Portugal
Russia
4.
Czech Republic
Germany
The teams in all four lines were drawn with each set of two teams based on the current IKF Ranking.
The Netherlands is the current holder of the World Games Korfball following the last event held in Kaohsiung, Chinese Taipei in 2009.
The IKF will publish the match schedule for this World Games Korfball event before 4 May 2013.


-- 

3/25/13

Summer holiday in Australie


This summer there is a KORFBALL TOUR in Australia.
Who will participate?
Contact:
Edwin Bouman: eapbouman@gmail.com

2/26/13

Comment on article of Jan Fransoo: Qualifying for Olympics

Yes
One of the most visionary objectives in Korfball is: “Korfball in the Olympic sports program”.
Everyone understands that a tournament is very costly when at least 8 national teams participate and when the format of the sport is played in today, official discipline, (two zones, 8 vs. 8 and 8 more substitute players and a coach team of 4 persons).
The proposal put forward to achieve another discipline, I like that!
The idea, to go very compact though, seems exaggerated.

Four against four in one zone is a great concept that is suitable as a second official discipline.
But why should the playing time be shortened? Until now I never heard spectators complain that the matches in the Dutch Korfball League lasted too long. Furthermore, we know that decoration during a mach is very important. (See NBA)
I am sure that the format of 4 against 4, which is played in 4 slots of 15 minutes actual playing time will be a great success..
I would also like a rule of unlimited substitutes. There is the possibility of substituting the full line, 4 players replaced by 4 other players and also the coach can change one person.

I therefore advocate a new international format:
- Each team consists of 12 players.
- 4 against 4 in 1 zone with 2 baskets
- Time Played: 4 times 15 minutes pure playtime.
Of course I realize that even for this format when used in international tournaments, the costs will still be substantial.
But what do you think about the costs of soccer, water polo, field hockey and handball?

(BTW: The other day I heard another 'serious' idea: leave the principle of mixed. Go for a format of 3 against 3, separating men and women...)


2/18/13

Qualifying for the Olympics


by Jan C. Fransoo, IKF President
With the introduction of rugby to the Olympic Games from 2016, new formats for sports appear to develop very fast. Netball have launched their Fast5 version, with shorter matches, fewer players, unlimited substitutions and a number of other rules changes. Cricket have launched Twenty20 cricket, where only 20 overs are played and matches can be completed within a few hours.
Within korfball, several initiatives have been taken to explore alternative formats. One can question why we need alternative formats. I believe there are a variety of reasons for this. First, the number of players needed now to play (2 teams of 8 in the street when starting, but normally at least 12 in a national league match and 16 for an international match series) is simply too large to allow us to grow faster. For our member associations, the large delegations also cause considerable financial pressure on their resources. So for growth, I am convinced we need a more compact game. Second, a compact game allows for shorter matches, allowing us to better package a series of matches into an attractive event. Imagine seeing the eight best teams of the world in a 2 hour evening session at a major event. So for spectator experience, we need the compact game. Finally, the compact game will allow us to have more competitive matches. In the last 20 years, no new team sports have emerged that have been able to create a very competitive game. The gap between the leading country of countries and the rest is simply too big. Requiring more players in a team simply makes it more difficult to be competitive. Thus, for media impact, we need the compact game.
The question now is what our compact game will be. We have beach korfball in 3vs3 of 4vs4 as a format for which recently new rules have been developed that allow it to be played in a small beach arena, with 2 korfs. Experiments have been taking place with a hard court (street or indoor) korfball game based on the same format as beach, but on a slightly larger pitch. We hope to formally launch this new format later this year. Ideas and suggestions are still welcome directly in my inbox.
While the traditional game will continue to exist, I am convinced our compact game will open us to new markets, not only in the many new countries that have joined our wonderful sport in the past decade, but also in the villages in the Netherlands where korfball is strong. With the compact game, we can also clearly develop a new strategy for more rapid international growth.