Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Coaching Sport - Why We're Asking the Wrong Questions


Sports Coaching – Why We’re Asking the Wrong Questions



We weren’t disciplined enough tonight.

They didn’t want it enough.

Queenslanders showed they’re the toughest sportspeople in the world today.

The boys played with passion out there, they left everything out on the field.

They were ready to run through a brick wall for each other.

These players these days don’t have any pride in the cap/jersey/bib. We used to play for the cap/jersey/bib.

Read any sports article or listen to players, coaches and ex-players and these are the types of phrases that keep hitting you between the eyes. It’s not that these messages are completely wrong……just that they are very short sighted. What comes next? After you’ve run through the brick wall and there’s four days, 79 minutes, or three-quarters left to play? And what have you as a player or coach done to get through that?

Now I’m not saying that passion and emotion don’t exist in sport. Of course they do – contests between tribes over the years, competitions for trophies, striving to be the best at what you do usually does. BUT…..we are now living in a fast food type industry and the press has to produce the catchy 5 second byte and headline that creates readership and conversation. So we bypass what coaching is and learn how to hit the next headline.

When it comes to our understanding of Coaches, Coaching, Learning and Development we have a poor understanding of what it is and how Coaches should be appointed then judged. The way things are now, questions and comments lead to an emotive response around Coaching which leads Coaches to fear of innovation, development and learning – which is exactly what coaching should be. If we’re not prepared to be wrong we’ll never come up with anything original, different or better. If you get the chance check out Sir Ken Robinson’s TED talk around education – he tells it as well as anyone in the world.

Because of this we have Boards and Senior Management basing decisions on whom the Senior and other Coaching Staff should be based on the wrong premise. With the wrong information in hand it leads to Boards and Senior Management asking the wrong questions, looking for the sterilized answer (the best salesman or the highest profile ex player) and therefore as Indiana Jones noted in Raiders of the Lost Ark, “They’re digging in the wrong spot!”. Hard to get the Ark of the Covenant when you’re doing that – therefore the only way is to steal it is after Indiana has discovered it – and that, I fear, is the landscape of much of our sporting development and learning for young cricketers, footballers, netballers and many athletes around the country.

The increase of money in “professional” sports (mostly male dominated) has changed several things in the sporting landscape. And these changes have led to greater emphasis and pressure on coaches to produce “results”. This in turn has led to the “sterilisation” and “industrialisation” of the Coaching and Learning Industry. And from Cricket’s perspective at least, it is hurting the learning of the reducing cricketers we have to pick from.

We spend hours and hours on predicting future teams and future trends, telling anyone who’ll listen we know what the 2017 Ashes Party will look like from the National Standard Testing after the Under 17 National Carnival. Now I’m not here to suggest these experts of coaching, administration and scientists are wrong. I’m here to say that it’s a very unhealthy way of going about things. Please stop predicting the future and allow it to happen organically! We should aspire to create learning environments over dictatorial ones.

Administrations, Boards and Player Associations can help in other ways… Contracting processes and understanding, Player Welfare and Development, Transitioning, Coordinating Playing Schedules etc.

We need to better understand what coaching and learning is and how athletes and coaches learn and connect.


Enjoy your weekend matches.

Cheers Sport.




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