Danny James

Tag: strength and conditioning

494

Laconic Coaching

“He who knows how to speak, knows also when” – Archidamidas

Ancient Greece was a fascinating culture, and a fascinating time. Even the way they communicated is fascinating. Greece was obsessed with rhetoric; the ability to debate, and to deliver elegant and persuasive speeches was highly prized in society.

The exception to this are the Spartans. The residents of the ancient city of Sparta (often called Laconians, after the region that Sparta was capital of) were known to abhor the typical longwinded Greek obsession with language.

These days, through what we know of their history, Spartans are remembered not only for their courage, frugality, and simplicity, but for their economy of speech; so much so that we call this manner of speaking ‘laconic’.

“Spartans were expected to be men of few words and stick to the point”
They felt that there was power not only in what is said, but in what is not said.

One challenge for coaches is to be ‘Spartan’ with our language; to use as few words as possible, and allow learning to be driven by the athlete’s experience with their surroundings and the task we give them.

We must get to the point – quickly; economy in language is crucial if we want to be heard. Attention spans are diminishing by the day. This makes it especially important for us to be concise; to shorten our message.

We can always add details later, if necessary.

Too often, words get in the way. We use them to mask our insecurity. In our desire to prove to the athletes how much we know, we often overwhelm them with information.

Like the Spartans, the wise coach will know what not to say – not just what to say.

143: Edge of ability

Some runaway thoughts noted, upon reflection of a fine day Coaching. Or as I like to see it, facilitating realisation.

To that end, a Coaches role in the process I believe, is to become progressively dispensable.

School can not equip the Coach of all things with which he/she can use to prepare athletes. It’s the beginning. Further to this, there is a time for theory/calculation/science, and a time for practice/action/art. Know the appropriate blend for the individual and situation.

I would always advocate going as far as you can, evidentially and experientially informed, before applying any speculative knowledge or informed intuition.

Coach dials the environment.

Minimum effective dose.

Economy of words. Simplify the message, not the goal. Communicate context.

When assessing ‘readiness’ using bio-feedback, I find the greater value in looking for trends over time, as opposed to banking on daily changes.

Adapt. The best Coaches I know, are adaptable and integrative.  With knowledge, ways of knowing, application etc.

To have ‘forgotten more stuff than most people learn,’ to my mind is profound in its simplicity and precision of fact, when it comes to continued professional development, at least in this field. I think that if we can say this of ourselves after so much given to mastering the craft, and having discarded much of what we’ve painstakingly acquired over many years, through obsessive distillation, it’s really the best we can hope for.

I am immensely grateful for the reminder of the fairer side of human nature that I am fortunate to witness, that emerges from the stress of such betterment endeavours. To wilfully undergo the very necessary contribution of regimented discomfort to attain a desired training effect, requires humility. A healthy value opinion of self-improvement. Choice. These are typically high worth individuals.

They can usually do the least,  who want to work the most, or the hardest. The trick is to temper this enthusiasm. Without being discouraging, but realistic.

That, which repressed in the day-to-day of living, finds often the outlet hour of need, in the session, – long-term programming benefits aside. Employ always best practice first,  and where possible have fun. Take your work seriously, but never take yourself too seriously.

To be expanded upon.