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The importance of being wrong

I have just finished reading ‘Black Box Thinking’ by Matthew Syed and it has emphasised the need to embrace failure as an important part of developing my coaching as well as my methods and philosophy. It is natural to want to be right all the time, but it is a fallacy to believe that you can be or indeed should be. Operating under the assumption you are right all the time will also stunt your ability learn and develop which ultimately effects the outcome for your athletes and or patients.

It can be easy to fall into a pattern of continually doing the same things over and over because that is the way you do it and you think it is the best way. Formally challenging yourself to do things differently can be a way of staying away from this. I regularly place constraints on my coaching such as only using certain cue types (i.e. only verbal or never verbal) throughout a day or a week in order to help improve my ability to use them and to see how effective they are. I will test different cues for exercises in order to improve my ability to coach the changes I wish to see. I will remove or add certain exercises from programmes in order to learn how necessary they are, how effective they are and whether there are alternatives that are easier for me to coach and for people to retain. My coaching environment is one where trying to develop competency in movement is very restricted in terms of contact time and the ability to coach the movement quickly and make it resilient to error between contact times is the main driver behind my exercise selection.

Through regular reflection on this I continually try to learn from what hasn’t worked in order to put it to one side in my practice and further refine my exercise selection and coaching. I feel that having a mindset where I am not tied to particular methods and where I see errors and inefficiencies not as a negative but a learning opportunity helps me in doing this. 

Neil Welch

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