Having listened to yet another Podcast, the content got me thinking about the role of the coach and coaching in general. The field is such a vast landscape of concepts and positions, occupied by experts from pedagogical, psychological and sociological positions that a glance in any reflective surface may present questions of ability and effectiveness to the best of us. The reasoning and sensibilities with which many refer to the practice are so far removed from my thinking and my historical journey to becoming and being that I often battled with the concept of being comfortable with being uncomfortable. In fact, in an attempt to be more comfortable I often sit and listen in an attempt to connect, to learn the language and to be accepted as a cultural member. The problem is, much of what is said, demonstrated and reflected does not resonate with how I feel, the rationale behind my practice and where it is I wish to be. I am left contemplating whether or not a class differentiation exist within the epistemological chain that contributes to the ‘why’ of coaching and influences who we become. Is it that the club is closed or that I do not want to attend the meetings?
This evenings game was the first of two, and the very first of the season to be played on a Friday. The drive over felt different, our home court looked different (we had to play on a side court as opposed to our show court) and I was accompanied by my eldest granddaughter, all of which felt outside of my usual routine. This being said, and upon my arrival, the players were already into self-organising mode. They had set up the court, agreed their warm-up activities and were just on their way to get changed. It was with this view in front of me that I took a breath, smiled at my little princess and sat down to enjoy a few moments sharing my second world with my little girl.
Our opposition was unknown, a fact that left me further uncomfortable and unable to really prepare our next move, this being said, I had begun to settle into my ‘game day’ as it now looked. Was it club membership quality? Would I be recognised as being or becoming? Should I consume myself with a pursuit for answers? At that very moment I wasn’t thinking about my ability to perform a task, to bring together 16 young men and provide them with an equal measure of fun, learning and growth, an experience that would resonate with them for years to come. At the moment prior to the start of any game I ask myself, will I be enough today? Enough to recognise, to support, to promote and to encourage the very best of who each young person is and wishes to be.
The ball went up and in a short breath we were up 10-2, thanks to a lay up, 3-point shot, a trip to the free throw line and another lay-up. he sound of the whistle rang through the hall signalling a cry for help, the need for a moment to gather thoughts and to redesign the game strategy. We on the other hand, well, my exact words to the players as they came in for the first timeout of the game was simply – “what can I say, great job”. Not exactly the voice of a great wordsmith or even something that Hemingway or Twain would have been proud of. However, it felt as though it was all that was needed. In that moment they had been great, they had played their version of the game at their very best level and been successful doing it. The problem was, as so eloquently noted by Geoffrey Chaucer, “all good things come to an end” (1937).
My emotions were the tracks of the greatest roller coaster, I couldn’t level them out. I walked beyond site to gather myself, I expressed displeasure at our inability to ‘hold’ a degree of stability within our performance and to not be able to recognise the oppositions play. Suddenly, with a great swing and high velocity decent I would rise to considerable altitude, recognising the small gains, the effort and the determination in each and every one of the players. I was exhausted. Midway through the third quarter I called them in, I was firm, directive and resolute in my summation, an offering I am confident my lawyer brother would have been proud of. Unfortunately, I wasn’t sure, at that moment, just how effective my delivery was to my current audience.
Having finally emerged from the chaos victors, I swept my princess into my arms and left, I felt totally drained, confused by our play and disappointed in my game day preparation.