Benefit from imperfect outcomes
Here’s a typical situation where it seemed that my game activity was failing, yet it was providing plenty of learning opportunities, for me and for the players.
I was running a session for a U14 team. The rule was that on the third touch, the ball carrier would take one knee and all defenders had to come in and touch him. They could not move until the “scrum-half” had passed the ball to the first receiver.
The aim was to improve their tactical understanding: To get behind the defence, the first receiver has to take a flat pass and move the ball before the defenders can get across.
It’s a game I’ve used a few times and normally takes a while before they get the idea.
THE PLAYERS’ VERSION
On this occasion, the very first time the receiver took the pass from the back of the tackle, he puts in a beautiful cross-kick to the opposite wing, who caught it and scored.
It took me totally by surprise. It was not at all the way I saw the session panning out.
What would you have done?
Stopped the kicking? Told them they could only pass?
PANIC AND RECOVERY
After a brief moment of panic, I applauded it and let play continue with the same rules.
On the next occasion, with the same first receiver, he took the same option. This time it was a dreadful execution and the ball was kicked into touch. It was the same on the third attempt with a different first receiver.
When I stopped the session, I asked the group to talk about other options and what they were trying to do. They had explored the options and found the solutions. They achieved the objective – but found a different way to the one I had planned for.
I could have told them MY way, and been none-the-wiser to another way.
I could have panicked and told them no kicking because it wasn’t what I wanted. That would have: Dismissed a perfectly valid solution, undermined their contribution and missed an opportunity for them to see an aspect of their game they needed to practise and get consistently better at.
In games, you should:
- Allow them to find their own solutions.
- Be patient.
- Know that your “objective” may be different from their outcomes.
A skilful games coach won’t just let this happen though. Let’s see why in the next topic.