Last week a good friend of mine reminded me of the following Ray Dalio equation.
'Failure + Reflection = Progress'
Although I have no doubts it often fell amongst deaf ears, ‘learning from my mistakes’ is something that was hammered home from a young age by my parents, coaches and teachers.
A recent conversation with a man I hold in extremely high regard concerning coaching led to a watershed moment on the subject of reflection. The suggestion he made was to ensure I review or reflect on all training sessions that I have coached or been involved in. Carrying out this reflection is a skill that can be enhanced and developed to ensure our potential is maximised and our athletes get the most from being under our tutelage. Although mindbogglingly simple; it is wonderfully effective.
Reviewing involves critically analysing the entire session and taking detailed notes on each area. These areas include the overall preparation process , how I addressed the athletes, what I could spend less or more energy focusing on, which athletes require more attention, which technicalities need work and so on.
I was shocked as though I would regularly look back on sessions and simply ‘think’ where I could have done a better job, I had not reviewed by putting pen to paper and examining specific components.
‘The Governing Dynamics of Coaching’ is an excellent book I am currently making my way through written by James Smith, A.K.A ‘The Thinker’ . I believe that most people would benefit greatly from investing in this book, but especially all coaches working at any level in any sport. Each page is filled with nuggets of insight into the mind of Mr. Smith who has consulted across many organisations such as the NFL, Super 15 Rugby and the English Premier League but to name a few, working with numerous athletes throughout his journey. Interestingly he has also consulted with the FBI, US Army and Para Military Contractors. Its fair to say he’s been there, done that!
I was pleasantly surprised to come across a paragraph at the beginning of the book with the heading ‘The After Action Review’ (A.A.R). The author describes how the A.A.R is a vital cog in the wheel of various military outfits to raise operational awareness, that is investigating how the organisation or team is truly functioning. The A.A.R occurs immediately following combat operations. It is highlighted that it is simply not a ‘tick the box’ exercise by noting ‘the way the A.A.R is conducted means everything’.
Furthermore he asks to envisage if following a match, event or competition win lose or draw, all players and staff involved in the occasion held a meeting or A.A.R which, briefly put, revolved around unreserved communication noting why each decision was made and how to perhaps improve upon the next opportunity. A pragmatic exercise that can be applied to any sporting event, session, job interview, exam ,presentation , or date! Every occasion, positive or negative is a chance to improve somehow somewhere.
Founder & CEO of Be Ready Training | Strength & Conditioning Coach