Part of the motivation for these blogs has been driven by the Covid19 issues and the amount of time we have and the training on fields and gyms we have lost. But this time allows us to build in other areas often disregarded.
But it is also driven by the desire to show people thats skills for sport and indeed life are such a broad spectrum. IN sport we get extremely bogged down in skills, to a torturous extreme in the UK & Ireland around the various field and court sports and many coaches and most of the public see skills as a dummy solo in football or a step over in soccer or one off moments that thrill a crowd. Those exhibitions of high level technique and solution finding in high pressure stakes are important, they thrill us and they bring the crowds in, they excite young kids to grow to love sports and activity. But they are a tiny part of the overall picture.
There are technical, tactical, movement, mental skills as well. I hope to touch on all of these in some way in this series. They all can be developed. Physical capacity is the low hanging fruit, the basic physical conditioning and strength work we do. It doesn't make it any less important, but its the easiest to work on. Its important for our health, mental and physical and if not conditioned well for the game pretty much everything else becomes irrelevant as we will not be able to stay up.
For a start we will look at the Mental skills we can work on, because in ways they underpin or can be used as a tool - especially in this situation - to improve the other skills. We can build resilience (Sarkar, 2018) to come back from mistakes, but also to continually work on a new skill or development of a learned skill (Moran & O' Shea, 2020) or to develop positive self talk which can lead to increased focus and performance (Roberts & Kristiansen, 2012) . There is information, anecdotes and tasks in this for coaches as well as players and i hope both take something and there is also element coaches and players can work on together.
But Imagine (pun intended) hitting more free throws, making more hooks and blocks, developing your weaker side to such a point that you can kick off both feet with equal confidence? Well actually focused imaging can help, as can many other techniques.
I am not a Sports Psychologist, however i do take a deep interest in the mindset part of the game and reading and talking to those in Sports Psychology, Skill Acquisition, Resilience Research, Coach Education areas of expertise. It is really obvious that the Psycho-Social element of the games are THEE most important factors. Having coached 26 years in multiple sports across 3 continents much of what they are telling me and i am reading through research tallies with my experiences, my education and also notably with the coaches i find influenced me or others around me most. Often these coaches were not necessarily educated in the realm of Coaching science or indeed formally educated at all, but they had it. Some may call it emotional intelligence, others would call it motivational skills. Whatever it was they had it. Its not so much that people who specialise in these areas are better than any type of coach, its that they have dedicated their time and maybe careers to diving deep down into the various areas we are discussing.
Very often i have heard from people in the areas of Mindset, psychology, resilience, is “we are all psychologists”. And this plays to the experiences we have all had where we met coaches or teachers or leaders who just had that ability to get performance from all of us, no matter what the background or skill level. But with modern life Pop Psychology, raising youth anxiety levels mixed with still a nice bit of “ra ra ra, this is the way we did it in our day” we may need to dig a little deeper and expand or breath of coaching and playing a little more to challenge and enjoy the games and activities that little bit more.
We believe sport as having 4 primary goals – 1) Public Health; 2) Educative; 2) Elite Development Goal 4) cultural preservation