Mind Full or Mindful

I was rereading Presentation Zen this weekend, just like any good book it has proved valuable on several levels, first it stimulated me to improve my presentations, second it has proved to be a very good coaching book. After all, what is coaching? It is communicating ideas and concepts. The secret to good coaching is to get the athlete in the proper state of mind, that state is no mind. The athlete does not need to be burdened by verbiage in terms of detailed instructions and long discourses on technical minutiae. That creates a Mind Full, the result is robotic mechanical movement, that has no carryover to competition. To be real and insure optimum transfer training should be Mindful. The athlete should be encouraged to explore movements, to feel what works for them, to be creative, to explore the full palate of possibilities in terms of solving a movement problem. Somehow we need to break away from the mechanistic paint by numbers approach we have taken to teaching movement, step back and look at the big picture and emphasize rhythm, flow and spontaneity. After all we don’t play games in a phone booth, drills for the sake of drills make the athletes robots that cannot create and explore space and time in their sports. I am reminded of the endless “ball skill drills” I see in soccer. Seldom if ever do I see them put into the context of the game. They are just neat looking drills that the player “must master” to be a good player. I saw a combine prep situation where a football player was “rehearsing” the agility test by walking through the movements counting steps. How about filming the drill at full speed, tell him to take less steps and show him the difference before and after. He will figure it out and it will transfer. There is a whole new world out there for those willing to be creative and explore.


At 3/17/08, 10:22 AM, Blogger Swim Coach Tom Sweeney said...

As an age group competitive swim coach, I couldn't agee more about the difference between mind full and mindful. I'm reminded of two coaches on the same deck: Coach A has his swimmers on deck for up to 20 minutes at a time lecturing them on the finer points of stroke mechanics and the like--his swimmers become psychologically dependent as well as shiver from being cold; Coach B gets his swimmers out for 90 seconds and quickly explains a desired movement pattern, has them try it on deck, and back in the water they go.

BUT, one must have an eye for what works and what doesn't work. For example, a mid-pack 9-year-old girl, Rachel, didn't understand a fairly complicated full body dolphin pattern. During a short break, I watched her play with it. She linked three different movements and Rachel's Drill was born.

Some of us have a gift of seeing effective movement patterns. I don't know how that is taught.


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