Patrick Ianni and Seth Taylor are on a mission to revolutionize the way we bring up athletes.
Ianni, a former MLS player who featured with the U.S. at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, and Taylor, who is a writer, life coach, and soccer coach, have penned two books – On Frame and The Coaching Revolution – to give parents and coaches a different experience when they are on the sidelines.
“We created a plug and play solution that honors the depth of parenting and it’s an experience instead of a list of rules,” Ianni told LIJSoccer.com before he spoke at an LIJSL Bi-Annual General Meeting.
“A lot of times we become focused on players and yet dealing with our own stuff as parents and coaches. Raising awareness to the stories we bring to the game and the needs we bring to the game, and if we can raise our awareness to what those things are, we no longer project them onto our kids and have them carry those burdens for us. We’re getting parents to bring the attention onto themselves in different exercises in the book and our parent workshops, so they raise their awareness.”
The goal is to help the cultural shift of the youngest athletes finding love from their elders throughout the game, which can create an identity crisis when that affection isn’t there later in life.
It’s a struggle that Ianni dealt with himself when things weren’t going well on the field.
“You have this deep rooted connection to the game that I work and earn love for and when you’re not the man anymore – when you don’t play or things are going rough – a lot of anxiety comes up and you don’t have that affirmation.”
“When I wasn’t playing or starting, I was churning and trying to figure out how I could get there. It wasn’t changing myself to try to position myself and control it. I had to deal with all the anxiety that came up and complained about my coaches.”
That anxiety can manifest in different. For Ianni it was binge-eating or complaining about his coaches, among other things.
Eventually, Taylor noticed Ianni’s difficulties and helped put him on a better path, which has led to them working together to get an often overlooked issue out into the mainstream consciousness.
“Pat and I are saying it’s an inherently cultural problem that exists in the identity development of American athletes,” Taylor said. “Sports psychology primarily has been focused on building better athletes and not on healing wounded people. It’s our belief that when you start addressing those issues your capacity for improvement completely transforms.”
The goal is to have athletes reach their full potential and do so, as Taylor put it, “with joy in their heart,” rather than being held back by the cultural stresses ingrained in them from an early age.
When it comes to sharing the exercises from their books or at workshops, ultimately there is one thing that will being to create a shift.
“The kids are going to motivate them the most, so if parents can start to see the trauma they’re doing and we can give them an experience of where they’re hearing this stuff and it affects them then we can shift the culture,” Ianni said.
“You can’t educate parents, but you can give them experiences,” Taylor added. “If it transforms the way they see the world then things start to change.”