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I’m driving home after a coaching session in the rain – I’m wet through and so are the two players on the back seat. Thanks to the performance of the car’s heater (which was better than mine at training), there’s an ever-growing musty smell, as sweaty bodies dry out. I can’t open the window because it’s pouring down... really pouring down.
The boys are hungry, but the traffic’s snarled because of the worst rainstorm of the summer, and I’m not going to be home in time for dinner. What an afternoon. Why do I do this?
And the training session? What a washout. No-one was doing what I wanted. The defenders were attacking, the attackers were defending – essentially the whole thing had been turned on its head, and not through instruction.
I thought glumly about this as I looked at the trail of red lights ahead of me, as the wipers continued at full speed. But once we had got home and were dry and warm and (finally) fed I looked back and went over the session, as I normally do.
I use something called an achievement exercise when I think a session has gone badly. It’s where you simply write down up to five things you achieved in the session.
No matter how stressful or frustrating training was, as a whole, this is a pleasant reminder that some progress was made in some areas. Some achievements might appear minute in the grand scheme of things, but they are achievements nonetheless, and I write them down
The defenders attacking, the attackers defending - it all has a place in coaching. It is a huge positive that these things came out of the session. Even something as seemingly unimportant like my players all turning up despite the bad weather – that’s a positive too.
And I might not have enjoyed it, but I know most of them did. After all, what kid doesn’t get a thrill from getting muddy and battling against adverse conditions? Then add in the fact that my relationship with the players became even stronger because we trained together in those appalling conditions. They saw my commitment and liked it.
It was a powerful exercise for me to snap out of my frustration and be grateful for what we, as a team, had achieved in that hour-and-a-half.
So, the next time you think you’ve had a bad session, reassess by writing down what you achieved. You’ll find that it’s often the little things we take for granted, and the relationships with others in our lives that bring the biggest smiles to our faces.
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This is a good exercise. I ask my archery students to make two lists after each competition. One list is three or more "things I learned at this competition." The other list is three or more "things I will do differently next time." I think the second list informs future behavior a bit better. I suggest the things learned should be positive, no such comments like "I learned I suck at archery." And I ask them to review the "do different" lists before the next competition.
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