NLP and Sensual Understanding, the 3rd dimension in Coaching?

Open yourself up to the possibility….

In the course of my sports coaching I teach cricket to primary school children in curriculum time. Now, not all the pupils are going to view learning cricket with much enthusiasm for a variety of reasons – from not liking any PE per se, to it being a “long and boring game” (an acquired critical judgement), to “I’m no good at it” (another acquired critical judgement), to “I’m a girl and cricket’s a boy’s game”.
We were warned about this in our coach tuition module, that highlighted the differences between a) coaching at clubs where everyone wanted to be there and had a common purpose and b) coaching in schools where this diverse disinterest level was going to be prevalent.

There are things to help break these barriers – being outdoors in the summer sun and air sure beats being in the classroom; girls’ and women’s cricket is a fast growing sport; are two that immediately spring to mind as undeniable presuppositions.

So what else can help break the barriers?

In the tuition module we watched a rather cheesy and occasionally amusing DVD of a coach approaching, planning and delivering a curriculum session on cricket, and then had to comment on various aspects of it. Helpful as it was in a conceptual sense in providing a framework for execution of the task, the parts we all found equally amusing and uncomfortable were areas where we couldn’t see ourselves doing it THAT way. So – this now brings a coach’s individuality into the equation. Now, there is ‘coaching by the book’ and ‘coaching by personality’ – and it’s generally assumed the most effective way is going to be by managing the shifting and changing balance of the two.

To my mind there is a third dimension here – and the nearest I can get to a short description is ‘coaching by sensual understanding’.

If a coach has an awareness of ‘sensual understanding’ then suddenly the whole activity is transformed into 3D. And seeing, hearing, feeling ANYTHING in 3D brings the whole experience to life!

What do I mean by ‘sensual understanding’?
I see it as an understanding that
• Communication, both outwardly and inwardly, in language, both verbal and non-verbal, should be sensory based.
• Because we are designed for a world of experience through our senses, our technical coaching makes more impact if we pay attention to sensual or sensory-based learning.
I firmly believe that the more coaches encounter and have an understanding of NLP, the more they are drawn towards using it to enhance their ‘coaching by sensual understanding.’

So how have I found using NLP beneficial and leads to this ‘sensual understanding’ when coaching, particularly in schools?
1. Preframe the term and each session
2. Assume, through positivity, that the presuppositions of NLP are expressed to the children in ways they can understand
3. Allow them to gauge their experience of batting, bowling, fielding not in my terms but in terms that are REAL to them
4. Allow performance of how they have learnt and understood through that experience to be expressed in a free and unconscious (intuitive) way

Here are some examples of the above:-

Though it may sound a bit wacky, I tell every new group that they are geniuses – and that they don’t yet know what they are geniuses at, and they need to open up to the possibility that some of that genius can be expressed in their playing cricket.

There is no failure only feedback – If it’s possible in the world then it’s possible for me. It’s just a matter of How – There are no unresourceful people, only unresourceful states – People are not their behaviours, and for things to change first I (or they) must change – Every action has a positive intention. Children very soon understand where you are coming from if these presuppositions are part of your core beliefs.

Get them to listen to what their bodies are telling them, and gain a greater understanding of what is happening, what they are doing, and through that gain better control, and to try different ways to gain even more experiences. Remembering always that this is their perception of their experience and not anyone else’s. Communicate with everyone bearing this in mind. Use their language, their calibrations.

Provide sufficient ‘game’ or performance opportunity to allow expression without conscious technical thinking. The more exciting and fast moving the game, the better the likelihood of amazing expression. Some of the most astonishing feats and personal moments of absolute quality has been in this type of game play. Take away rational and critical thinking and the body is allowed to express itself truly ‘from the inside-out’. Sometimes beyond the generally accepted acquired technical level for that individual.

So the kids I coach in schools love what cricket allows them to do and feel and be. They believe it is what it is through the way it is presented to them. They now believe, through sensory discovery, that they are capable of far more than they think they are. And if that’s true for their cricket, then it’ll be true for other things as well. They understand the presuppositions of NLP without knowing what they are; and now they have a better view of the world, a better map of the world; and know that they are not that map and that they can be their true selves whenever they want –
just by allowing themselves to open up to the possibilities……

This model should be true for all of us, all of the time.