Relearn continues to challenge my thinking. I listened to many stories at Coopers last Wednesday night. Of Chris’s journey of setting up a high performance coaching structure in a new sport. Of Tom’s honesty of not always knowing what is best for the athletes he has a responsibility for. Of Danny’s relentless pursuit of a different way of teaching PE in primary schools. With Al and Uppy once again expertly guiding our connections to those stories in the hope of gaining a deeper or meaningful insight (Keynote listeners rather than speakers). Out of the stories shared I found a common strand that pulled them altogether for me. One of perspective and what is “right”?
The coach and the athlete each have their own perspective.
There is the assumption when working with athletes that our perspective, as the coach, is the most important one. We have the knowledge. We have the experience. We understand what success looks like. We know what is right. So we spend our time on changing our athletes perspective to be more like our own. To see the sport and the world the way we do. That learning, progress and development is where the athlete’s perspective becomes less of theirs and more like our own. Success is when our athletes begin to see things the way we see them.
When working with children in youth sport, their perspective may not be fully formed; lacking focus and clarity.
Rather than working to get the athlete to see our perspective, perhaps we first must try to understand theirs? By giving them room to explore the sport, by creating an environment that it is safe to try and fail, one of support and encouragement. Then they can gain a clearer perspective of their purpose of being involved. By asking them why they are here and what they want from the experience.
However just giving them room to explore and space to try things isn’t enough. We need to then help the athlete better understand their own perspective.
Through self reflection:
By helping them to focus on the details:
Or assisting them to zoom out and see the larger picture:
Or by even getting them to experience something else:
And getting them to understand ours and other athletes perspectives:
So often we start by enforcing our perspective on the athlete, rather than gaining insight into theirs. By working to understand the athlete’s point of view, we have a better chance of them opening up to us and authorising us to help deepen or expand their perspective. By fully understanding their perspective as much as we can, we have a better chance at developing buy-in and commitment from them that doesn’t rely on compliance, manipulation and persuasion. Through understanding our athlete’s perspective, we become more aware of who they are and where they are. This can help us to make better decisions on supporting them on their journey through our sport.