The drive over was packed full of thought and imagination, I had watched the SuperBowl, an annual ritual that never fails to leave me stunned at the glitz and glamor of it all. This, alongside a weekend of games that resulted in some very interesting successes and I was somewhat at odds with my practice. I know, I am sounding like a scratched record (vinyl for those not quite old enough to know what it is I am talking about), coach is on the cause and affect debate again! It is just that I am keen to get to a point where I understand my interactions, my behaviour and the impact of what I do and say on the young people I work with.
I arrived at practice not having had a great amount of time to plan, the time I had set aside was gobbled up by a very interesting conversation with one of the UK’s bright young coaches. This being said, I was confident in what it was I wanted to focus on tonight and was comfortable with our content. We started by revisiting the previous game, a moment to congratulate a young man for his success and to highlight ‘Who We Are’. The players shared in his smiles and gave him a metaphoric pat on the back, it was a great moment. We then moved on to the scout, everybody contributed to the ‘painting of the picture’, revisiting prior knowledge in order to map out what it did and would look like. The mood seemed relaxed, everybody was engaged and attendance was good. We were ready to go!
I had wanted to focus our attention on execution and the need for communication in order for us to realise our potential. We utilised our Golden Circle model to challenge communication – the purpose and intent. We discussed what each was (early, loud, direction and action), agreed when and where we should be ‘talking’ and set about putting it into practice. It was at this point that the landscape that stretched out in front of me began to look baron, no longer could I see crisp passing out of stance, well-communicated movement, early identification of movement and all the things that my vista should include. However, I was mindful that I was looking through my lens, projecting my opinions and aspirations on the setting. In an attempt to regain some sense of what we were doing and why, I stopped one player and asked him why he didn’t communicate his movement. His response was short, “I did coach”. On further examination the player did indeed communicate his movement, he just wasn’t loud, it just wasn’t the way I had intended. Surely that was the key, what it looks like and what it is are sometimes just not quite aligned. In fact, I would argue that this is the point in coaching where the relationship is tested, where flexibility and understanding are required.
Looking back at the session, the boys worked hard, they made a tremendous effort to do something that perhaps didn’t come natural to them, to communicate in a leadership voice. To project a sense of confidence in their ability and to demonstrate their understanding of Who We Are. What it was I was asking them to do was far greater a task than I had considered. More importantly, how effective am I as a communicator? I would suggest that I have my moments but there is a great deal more I could and should be doing to improve the communication lines within our interaction. We sparingly utilise social media, mobile Apps and electronic mail to share ideas, focus in on a topic or area of interest. In addition, I have taken to utilising the white board as a means of providing pictorial / infographic type illustrations of key messages and working through our two key questions – ‘Who Are We? and Where Are We? But the point is, is it enough? Am I promoting, facilitating and presenting opportunities for players to be comfortable communicating with each other? Tonights session had left me wondering ‘where was I?’ Had I communicated enough? There wasn’t a buzz, a sensation that I get more often than not pre and post practice. I wasn’t communicating with self!
The drive home was somewhat empty, I don’t recall revisiting any part of the session. I wasn’t sure why, or even what it was specifically that had led me to this. Perhaps it was the lack of planning and so the feeling (or lack of) was due to not knowing what we had achieved? I arrived on the drive, left my car and climbed the stairs to my home office. Perhaps tonight was just one of those nights and all would be well tomorrow?