I am privileged to have a voluntary coaching role with my local rugby team. The privilege for me is on a number of levels:
The players ages are spread mainly from 18-30, with the average age being around 21 or 22. The privilege in this for me is working, connecting with and being part of the lives of young men emerging onto life’s stage. It keeps me young, sane, grounded and in touch with their world which is an ever-changing world.
The second privilege is working in my local community and feeling very much a part of that. The club is also very much part of my playing roots, and there are always great opportunities to spend time with people I played the game alongside 35+ years ago. There’s a deep sense of belonging here that’s really important to me.
The third privilege are the benefits and learnings for me in terms of enhancing my coaching, mentoring and changework elsewhere in my ‘working’ life in a more professional context.
The fourth privilege is just on a personal and pleasurable level – and this can take many, many forms.
One of my guiding principles for the players is to get them (a) to understand what I mean by playing intuitively and without thinking and (b) to be able to do that whenever they want. Its the way I strive to get ALL the players I coach, in whatever sport, to play. We condition ourselves, we practice the processes, we play without thinking. Tactics, in this regard, are part of processes.
It’s a concept that, for some, falls on stony ground. These are the players whose presupposed thinking won’t allow them the freedom to ever get beyond playing sport in a 2-dimensional way. Sport is a part of life – it is not a compartmentalised thing we go and “do” and when we’re finished close the book and put it back on the shelf. It’s part of who we are. So it’s right to really immerse ourselves in the experience and get the most out of it – rather like what we should be doing in the rest of our lives?
The glorious feedback
Last evening we ran a particular drill we first looked at about 3 weeks previously, and the underlying principles of which we have looked at a lot more than that. Three weeks earlier the drill was riddled with errors, muddled execution and poor processing. This time there was very little of that – which allowed us to look at finer points of detail to make things work even better.
When I paused and asked for some feedback from the players as to how different this was for them, what I heard was music to my ears and I received the golden nuggets of reward bound up with Privilege number 4.
“Its so much better because we don’t seem to be thinking about what we’re doing, we’re just doing it, ” said one. “We’re seeing what’s in front of us and listening to each other more clearly,” said another. “It’s working because we aren’t trying too hard or forcing it. There are mistakes but no one minds. We all seem to be on the same wavelength.”
No one minds – I liked that too. As a person who licks his lips at the prospect of linguistic tinkering, I really savoured this one!
No-one minds. No one-minds.
When the mindset changes on the inside, wonderful things start to happen on the outside.