Work in Progress…

It a simple enough phrase…”Work in Progress”…

And yet I’ve discovered that when using it with young sportspeople, that it actually liberates them from any performance shortcomings where (more often than not) they would hang their heads, beat themselves up, and all the other attributes that go with our culture of instant success, instant gratification, instant…you name it!!

So what is the power behind these 3 words?

1. Well, have a look at the presuppositions when the player hears my response to their assessment of how they’ve played.
PL: “It went X, I did Y, I didn’t do Z, I forgot to do M and I made a mistake with N.”
PW: “Yes – and lets be realistic now. These parts of your game – it’s work in progress.”

What is it? It’s work > which presupposes they are putting some effort into the activity away from competition. Which means they are motivated and active towards getting to grips with these parts of their game.
What’s happening to the work? It’s in progress > which presupposes its on the move from A to B and is improving, getting better. This implies positive and purposeful outcomes are already taking place.

2. Liberating emotional possession of competition errors.
What is the work in progress? IT is! (a nice little impersonal IT) > which actually puts a space between (1) the errors and imperfections of the performance and (2) the player themselves, by introducing that neutral and unemotional wedge (3), IT (ie the work being done to improve those particular parts of their game).

3. No impatient time constraints.
There’s no start or finish to Work In Progress either – just a plan, programme and record of improvement, accelerated or organic. These are process goals related to levels of competency, for which the acquisition timescale has never been set.

Part of the difference between my approach to young players and say those of the non-coaching fraternity (ie just adult players etc) – is this very point of detaching the emotional effect of errors of performance from the players themselves. When players are bombarded with a continual chorus of “You should do X” and “You mustn’t do Y” and (perhaps the funniest of all) “Don’t forget to remember to do Z” – heavens, how confusing is that – these remarks are miles away from my “Keep on with the Plan – because this is all Work In Progress.”

So, “WIP” could be my phrase of 2010!!