The 4 Cartesian Questions (NLP) – pre-match team talk

November 15, 2009 Post Comment Uncategorised

I’ve been examining the 4 Cartesian Questions in the sporting context and indeed illustrated them in a pre-match talk for the rugby team I coach, a couple of weeks ago.

For a side of average age around 21-22 with few ‘old heads’ in there, the problem has been consistency in terms of performance. The ‘old heads’ bring with them a level of experience that gives them a higher level of emotional intelligence, and in this side it is noticeable that the 2 lads at college (the youngest) are the ones with the lowest EI score. So the quandry was to find a means of guiding the whole team into an area where they could understand their own decision making in the course of a game and how it impacts upon the rest of the players, elements of the playing process, and inevitably the outcome of the match.

I started the talk mentioning the Butterfly Effect which pre-framed my point of invitation for the players’ thoughts. So (eg) does the flap of a butterfly’s wings in Sao Paolo set off series of events to alter the path of a hurricane in the Caribbean?
As thoughts on this were rattling around inside for them I sprung the 4 Cartesian Questions … and decided to frame them in rugby terms :-

1. What will happen if you DO make that tackle?

2. What will happen if you DON’T make that tackle?

3. What won’t happen if you DO make that tackle?

4. What won’t happen if you DON’T make that tackle?

So how effective was this?

In terms of performance things went really well, through warm up and overall through the game. There were some momentary slips (as always) but the general level of decision making through the team was much much better. I have not yet asked the players how they felt about the pre-talk (if anything) because most of my talks are aimed at the unconscious, are metaphorical and non-motivational. We lost by 1 point to a side who had beaten us convincingly earlier in the season, so in outcome terms there was a huge improvement. We should have won to be fair, but missed 2 kickable penalties in the second half to re-take the lead.

These 4 Cartesian Questions do set up interesting trains of thought for inexperienced players, and it certainly de-focusses their feelings of singularity which is so destructive in a 15-man team game. The belief that they and only they can change the course of the game by (in effect) trying to do too much every time they have the ball in hand. So they only have to consider beating their wings to make changes ……..

Fascinating concepts – great questions!