In his book, ‘Focus – The Hidden Driver of Excellence’ Dan Goleman discusses how focussing on what’s critical leads to success. In order to focus on whats critical, he believes it is important for both coaches and performers to have a heightened sense of self awareness, awareness of others and awareness of their enivironment. In short, he refers to these three awareness’s as ‘inner’, ‘others’, and ‘outer’, awareness.
Increased awareness can determine what course of action we might take in our coaching or playing sessions, as in the example below;
Recently, my son asked me to play football with him in the garden. This normally involves us playing one on one, with his main intention to see if he can get past me. As he was passing between me and the fence, (with speed and athleticism, which I was vaguely aware of!), I was drawn to his lack of control with the ball. Almost immediately, I noticed a slightly anxious feeling with the corresponding thought, ‘he needs to work on his control if he wants to get better, maybe I could suggest setting out some cones and we do a practice’, Fortunately, for the moment, I was able to park my anxious feelings and thoughts to one side and continue with the game. Interestingly, as I did this and didn’t follow my agenda, I instantly became more aware of his speed with the ball and his athleticism. This awareness then helped me to follow his agenda and allow him the space to develop these aspects of his game.
After our game, I was curious as to why I’d had this experience and also, how I didn’t react to my anxious thoughts and feelings by having him practicing ball control, following my agenda…..
I realised that in the moment that I had those thoughts about his lack of ball control, I was also aware of his keen intent for getting past me with the ball in addition to his speed and athleticism, – this was my ‘others’ awareness. I noticed how enjoyable the game was and what fun we were having, – this was my ‘outer’ awareness. And, finally, I was aware that something didn’t feel quite right, I recognised the thoughts emanating from my agenda – this was my ‘inner’ awareness. Spotting when you are on your agenda or not, can sometimes be difficult to notice as a sports coach, particularly where there are many distractions and other things/people competing for your attention.
By increasing your awareness, through practice, of ‘inner’, ‘outer’ and ‘other’ awareness, you will hopefully be in a much better position to make an informed and helpful decision during your coaching sessions!