Sharing our practice space

I spent the majority of the day exploring capital, observing student coaches and seeing my own practice through the various lenses that fill my day. It always intrigues me just how much observing others coaching practice provides visions of my own. The opportunity to scrutinise, evaluate and assess my practice through numerous frames and measures is a chance to get just that little bit better. However, I did like where I currently was, my coach identity foregrounded much of the day, my practice was planned and included a raised awareness of my actions. I do however ask, could I be better? I am sure I could!! Observing others provided me with the prompts, moments of reflection and teachable incidents that direct my focus and provide me with new lines of inquiry, new avenues to venture down in pursuit of a better coach self.
Today had been one of those day’s, having explored and shared concepts in planning, periodisation and marginal gains, my drive to practice was about what more could I do, what small margin could I improve? I greeted the players, set a number of tasks and stood back and observed the unfolding of our practice. We were cumbersome, awkward in our organisation yet we were getting there. We spent longer than I would like – note to self – is it about I? There was a great deal of politicking, discussion, directing of bodies to spots, perhaps there was too many leaders? I reminded myself to stay patient, allow them to work out their practice, to construct the moment with which they would engage and flourish as contributors to our Game Model. It was a difficult undertaking, yet the end game was pleasing.
Having rejoined the practice we moved through a number of efficiency points, the sharpening of our movement and the clarification of our direction. The players were engaged, motivated and almost at the rowdy state of being. I didn’t however challenge, I allowed them to self-direct, hold each other to account and lead themselves to a point of focus. The whole concept of patients and control is such a difficult beast to tame. You want to so jump in, challenge and scold for what you perceive to be chaos, yet with a little patients, the mayhem unfolds to reveal learning, collaboration and confidence. The need to intervene is the desire to regain ones cultural capital, to reassert the legitimate power bestowed upon the coach as a means of elevating ones standing within the field. To relinquish this power and distribute capital equally across the field is to confront ones own ego and set aside the power struggle present in traditional coaching practices.
We played our weekly contest against the second team, much of what we did reflected an authentic attempt at being us, executing our roles and doing so through informed movement and the direction of our on-court leaders. There were times when it didn’t quite resemble the ‘we’ talked about in our planning, the movement went rouge and was individualised. Again, this felt like moments when I needed to improve my ability to be patient, construct a question that would prompt a degree of introspection and challenge the culprit to reflect on the detraction from our Game Model. I tried, I really did, but what fell out was a jumbled message that included my thoughts and opinions as oppose to eliciting those of the players.
Aside from my lack of questioning ability I was somewhat content. Practice had been a high energy affair, led by the players, who were accountable to one another throughout the 90 minutes, and who had challenged themselves to be better. As I walked back to the car following the conclusion of our time together, I shared a laugh and a smile with many of the players who walked alongside me. It felt good to share in our environment as oppose to wanting to control it, even though it was difficult to fully let go.

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