I have heard coaches, parents, swimmers saying things like they practice until what they do becomes 2nd nature. Until it becomes automatic.
Got me thinking…….
Do I really want the athletes I coach to preform as if it has become automatic?
Now I’m not an authority by any stretch of the imagination so may be I’m wrong on this but I’m not entirely sure this is what I am aiming for.
What exactly does it mean to be automated?
The dictionary definitions are
1. The technique, method, or system of operating or controlling a process by highly automatic means, reducing human intervention to a minimum.
2. A device that functions automatically without input from the operator.
Now i appreciate that these definitions are not specifically talking about sport but it doesn’t sound to me like this should be our aim as coaches.
Any one who knows me knows that I believe that we are that which we repeatedly do. I believe that in order to achieve perfection there must be repetition and a lot of it. I believe it takes 10000 perfect practices to achieve perfection.
So is this a form of automation?
I don’t believe so no.
In fact I believe that we practice so much so that we can avoid automation at all costs.
Automation to me imply that the athlete has disengaged from whatever activity they are doing. I want my athletes to be actively in the moment at every stage. I want them to know how to react to every situation and have the ability to respond.
In my opinion we, as coaches, need to teach our athletes to think for themselves, to assess what they are doing in every set and actively learn from each experience. I don’t want them to become automated in their approach to training or racing THAT is the exact reason we train so much.
Does this conflict with my believe in the highly structured controlled environment I want to create?
I don’t think so.
My aim is to encourage every athlete in the club system to become more thoughtful in what they do, more concidered in their approach and try things. When they fail, they learn and they improve.
This learning and constant evolution of skills as we strive for perfection, in my opinion, means that, if we are to become truly world class, we move beyond automation to a higher level of execution.
Just a short 1 today. Till tomorrow
posted by Peter