The Million Dollar Question

At Kick-It! Training we ask the question a lot. We ask it when we’re setting long term goals, when we’re looking at a macro, meso or micro cycle in a training plan. It’s the first question in the training journal that an athlete keeps for each workout,  “What are you wanting from this session?” I use it in the training sessions to help an athlete focus and make adjustments. “What are you wanting … from this set, from this jump, from this movement .. from _______ ( you fill in the blank)?”

I began to understand the power and importance of that question several years ago through my work with Christina Marshall and the people at Totally Coached, Inc. It was brought home to me again in a new way a while later when my son was doing his undergraduate studies in music performance. Struggling to learn a difficult, new piece of music he seemed to be at a dead end. Trying harder was just making it harder and not bringing results.

So, rather than telling him what to change or do or fix, his professor told him to play a short section of the piece and when he finished asked him, “ Is that what you were wanting?”  “Well, no, not really,” he said. The professor asked him to play it again and again asked, “Was that what you were wanting?”  “ It’s closer but, that’s still not it.” The process continued 3 or 4 more times, a total of maybe ten minutes until voila! What seemed impossible only  ten minutes earlier had snapped into perfect form. Reflecting on it a few days later he was still marveling at the breakthrough and said to me, “ You know, when they ask you if that’s what you’re wanting you really have to ask your self ‘what am I wanting?’ and then you really start to hear it.”

Answering that simple question, “ What are you wanting,”  brings the goal into focus and helps us see ( or hear ) the steps and actions that will get us there more clearly. A few weeks after hearing my son’s story I began using the method with some of my athletes. One of my players was struggling with finding her balance on a single leg drill we were doing. Instead of trying to fix her form or re-cueing I asked what she was wanting on the landing. Frustrated she snapped, “I don’t know.”  “Go get a drink,’ I said, ‘ and we’ll try it again.” When she came back I asked, “ Do you know what you want here?”  “ I think so,” she said. She set herself, made the jump and – boom – nailed it.

So, we ask “ What are you wanting?” a lot, sometimes when we’re stuck in the moment and sometimes to help us look ahead at the bigger picture. It helps us see the goal and puts our choices about the steps we need to take or the adjustments we need to make in context. As the folks at Totally Coached, Inc.  say, “ When you get clear about the what, the how starts to snap into place.” Whether you’re a coach or an athlete, trying to see the big picture or stuck in this moment, consider that question and see where it leads you. On the flip side, if you don’t know what you’re wanting its awfully hard to get it.

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