We were walking from the gym to the rink with our hockey players last week after a dry-land session when Taylor Hardy, one of the assistants, told me he had noticed something. We had been working with some of the younger groups – 9 and 10 year olds – on getting in and out of an athletic postion, squatting and jumping. They were pretty good at finding an athletic position; hips, knees and ankles flexed, chest up, back straight. Squatting though was a problem. Lots of bending at the waist, heels off the ground, heads down. The typical stuff.
But, Taylor noticed that when they jumped they came down in a good position and from there it was only a few more inches to the squat. We had also had success teaching the young players by emphasizing the eccentric motion, lowering themselves slowly over three counts rather than trying to get down quickly. (everything nine and ten year olds do they want to do fast)
Taylor experimented with putting those things together. Have the kids get into their athletic position, squat jump, land in position and then lower themselves into a squat.
It worked. It didn’t get everyone into a perfect position but it got most of them there or much closer. And, it was a more athletic way, a more natural way to get there.
Two things stood out:
1. The body has a way it wants to work. That’s going to be a little different for each of us but there is a wisdom to it and if we take a moment, pay attention and work with it we can often get a better result than when we take a diagnostic / prescriptive approach to developing physical literacy with young athletes.
2. Creativity is key. Steve Jobs had a quote about creativity that made a lot of sense to me.
” Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it. they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while. That’s because they were able to connect experiences they’ve had and synthesize new things. And the reason they were able to do that was that they’ve had more experiences or they have thought more about their experiences than other people.
Unfortunately, that’s too rare a commodity. A lot of people in our industry haven’t had very diverse experiences. So they don’t have enough dots to connect, and they end up with very linear solutions without a broad perspective on the problem. The broader one’s understanding of the human experience, the better design we will have.”
While Jobs was talking about the computer industry he could have been talking about coaches. We can get pretty linear. What Taylor did was notice some things and put them together in a way that got us better results. He noticed the dots and saw a different way to connect them. Others have probably discovered the same thing but for us, it was out of the box, outside the frame we were looking at.
What dots are you seeing that aren’t connected that might be. How can you expand your vision, see more of the dots? How much time do you spend noticing and thinking about what you are seeing? Food for thought. Have fun playing with the dots. And, way to go Taylor!