The drive over was a long one, hampered by the deteriorating weather conditions and societies inability to rationalise our response to some fluffy white stuff. It did however gave me time to think, to further plan in my head what it was practice should look like tonight. In an attempt to recreate the atmosphere of Monday night I had spent some time planning and considering how to shape practice in a manner that would empower the players, that would give them greater ownership of their individual learning spaces. I was going to employ the adapted Golden Circle model as a means of questioning and reflection, but I wanted to get more from the players, I wanted practice to belong to them.
Having arrived in plenty of time, I spent five minutes revisiting ‘Who Are We?’. The players responded well to this, throwing their thoughts and ideas in the air, allowing me to catch and place them in the appropriate boxes. I then introduced a second question, Where Are We? The purpose being to allow players to express their levels of exertion and concentration. The concept was a reasonably well thought out one, unfortunately, I neglected to challenge the players throughout the remainder of the practice so will have to reintroduce the concept next week. For now, and in an attempt to regain the momentum of Monday, and further build on the concept, our questioning for the Golden Circle was driven by the players, they would hold each other to account, stop and challenge play in an attempt to better understand why. It was a slow start, they were a little quiet and reluctant to challenge. I gave a few examples, unpicking the affect of a behaviour and explaining how one role failure would have an impact on everything we did and on all of us.
The players moved through a series of game-based activities with enthusiasm, the energy levels began to rise and thereafter, remain high, with the conversation rising I tried not to say too much, a difficult task, but one that I was committed to achieving. I did however jump in to challenge one player, and a second said…”argh coach, I was just about to say that to him”. That moment, the exchange and the disappointed look on the players face told me everything I needed to know about my behaviour. I wasn’t giving them any time to achieve the task I had set for them. The players are smart, they have an opinion but quite often, through my practice, I found myself limiting their freedom to express their own thoughts and ideas. In that moment I tried harder, I committed to keeping my mouth shut and allowing the space to be filled with he voice of the players. They continued to work through some of the elements of our game model, challenging each other with regularity, and most important of all, have fun.
At the conclusion of our practice I stood and paused, it had been a good practice, not the ‘Magic Monday’ we had experienced just four days ago, but it had been productive in the sense that we were communicating with each other, challenging each other and holding each other to account. We had showed that we understood what it was we were trying to do (Who We Are) and made a number of attempts at executing some of the detail that would lead us to realising our model of who we were, and also, Where Are We?. As I walked out of the sports hall I could hear the shouts of the other coach, directing and politicking, I smiled to myself, it was a further reminded of the prominence of the coach voice and the need to try harder.