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It’s Not A Competition

by Peter Prickett - Follow Peter

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Winners and losers.

Sport is full of them. People going to great lengths to make certain that they end up a winner. People determined that they don’t end up a loser.

Some are so determined that they sell their soul. Morality is not a factor, just the win. The cutting edge is sometimes illegal. Sometimes the cutting edge is the apex of innovation for the time. Either way the methods used will be guarded with extreme secrecy, to keep the competition at bay. Until the next innovation comes around. The next way to gain an edge.

The competition element is easy to understand. This is top level sport with huge prizes on offer. Train harder, train smarter, train push the envelope. Keep it secret. Yet, in some environments, this competition is not so easy to understand.

There has been much written in the last decade plus about competition between children. Whether scores should be collated. If fun or victory should be the focus. Equal playing time. Children generally want to win. Adults also want their children (or students) to win. The issues relate to the lengths that people are prepared to go to with junior sport, where the tangible prizes are limited but there is greater prize at the end, provided people are able to see it. To expand further on this would distract from the issue at hand.

Competition between coaches.

This particular competition can take a number of forms. Most people who have coached to even a casual level will have witnessed it.

There are coaches who look to hide their work. So that it remains a secret only they know. Making sure that no other coaches can copy their successful methods. It may not just be the winning coach who does this, it may also be the great developer who hides away their special alchemy. For it is they who are the king makers, not us. Their carefully gathered resources kept under lock and key. For their eyes only.

The parks may have plenty of these coaches but the world of social media is generally not filled with that type of competitor. Here lives a different type of competitor. The one who can shout the loudest. Their methods are not a secret, which is fortunate for the coaches who have a desire to learn. Unfortunately with ideology comes belief. It takes a great deal of mental energy to find a way of working. A way of working that is genuinely your own. Most people will have a style that is an amalgamation of their physical experiences and their research. Picking out certain parts for specific moments. The coach who has discovered a method of working has taken these, melded them together and discarded the rest other a period of time. A long period of time. They will also be seeing results.

This is fantastic. Until the ideologies clash. The competition is live and raw. It may be a contest born of selling a product or of belief, but as with all great wars, the true reason they start doesn’t really change the fact that the soldiers are locked in combat. Free play vs coaching in detail. Opposed vs unopposed practice. One vs one vs two vs two. Periodisation vs every else. Everyone else vs Piers Morgan. This list is endless and the exchanges between the factions can be vile.

There are also coaches who work together but seek to undermine each other. Although the environment is ostensibly one of equality hierarchy often emerges. There can be coaches who dislike this so seek to move ahead. Doing it through personal development and growth is noble and laudable. Doing it through gossip, disrespect and denigration certainly is not.

Can’t we all just get along?

Well, the answer is no, we can’t. We are human.

What we can do is remember.

Remember why you started coaching?

Remember that even those who you disagree with have reached their ideology not as a way to spite you, but because they believe it to be right.

Remember that the end goal, the end game, the grand finale, for every coach is the same.

To develop the next generation of players. The methods used to get there may differ but that target is the same.

Secrecy is pointless. Argument is pointless. Undermining is pointless. We are not competing with each other as coaches. Our competition is time. Using the time we have with our players the best way possible. Which will likely differ from group to group and coach to coach. What works for one player may not work for another, never mind one group to another. I have spent time developing a method, which I have shared in part and will likely share in greater detail. Do I believe that everyone should use my method? No, but they are free to if they wish. Will another coach have a method that I see and will make me rethink? Most probably, but that is evolution. Evolution will drive us forward.

By collaborating and sharing as much as we can our chances of developing the next generation of player increases. We all win.

By seeking to destroy the competition our chances of developing the next generation decreases.

We all lose.

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