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Posted in: Area for Member Introductions

What were your pivotal sporting events as a kid?

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  • Ralph

    I was writing a reply in the “What’s your story” but realised quickly, it probably should be in a separate discussion.

    For those few that have read what I post here, you’ll probably have spotted, that I put a different spin than the norm and I will also do so here in answer to the question “What’s your story.”

    I wont advertise my self and achievements, I’m too old in the tooth for that but more importantly, it goes against my primary ethos, “it’s all about the kids.”

    I came from very successful, very academic parents that had not a clue how to be parents, wonderful people but knew that were clueless and left me to it. This was useful in that it left me open to a few great coaches (and many poor ones).

    I unfortunately forget his name but a Gloucester cricket coach that taught me when I was 9 how to catch and throw and this fundamentally changed my life (A brite kid that fell through the schools cracks and as usual Sport came to the rescue, common story amongst many children). The cricket coach did this in his own free time, of his own free will, asked for no thanks and I don’t even remember his name. Without the that single event, my sporting career and the subsequent 20,000+ I’ve coached would not have happened.

    Another coach form a different sport said to me at 10, “That’s a clever word, you must read a lot.” I didn’t at all but I sure did after that comment. That single comment snow flaked into me having a library of books on psychology, philosophy, anatomy and physiology, physics and anthropology, sports medicine and neurology. You need a research paper? I’ve probably got it and all that’s because of a coach, not a school teacher.

    Next was a first team member, (Raymond Lee), I’d be 17ish. Not sure why, I never asked, but one day he spent two hours with me, working on one single technique, doing it over and over again.

    And last but not least, Bill Medhurst, blessed to have met at least one coach over a consistent period of time, that really took an interest in teaching me.

    To those four that I was too naive to thank, I owe an invaluable amount but I’ve paid it forward with the many lives I know I’ve improved and the rest I hope that I’ve improved.

    Us coaches do a far more important job than we give it credit for. It goes way beyond sport and into positive feedback loops. It does not just make a physically fit human, it doesn’t just train their brain, it goes way beyond giving self confidence. It can if you wish go towards saving lives by stopping illnesses, physical and mental. There’s a direct correlation between child development and athletic development.

    You’ve heard of the butterfly effect; In time travel, it’s called the “Grandfather Paradox.” You may have watched “Sliding Doors” the Movie. What’s your real story, something more profound than your C.V.; those tiny random details of chance people, chance events and off the cuff comments and lucky game changers through tiny tipping points that led you here? Why on earth did you become a coach in the first place? Why do such a thankless task?

  • Richard2591

    Hi Ralph, great post. Like yourself I try to refrain from the CV or qualification achievement when describing my coaching journey. As a child, I had possibly some of the worst experiences as a player at my local club. I was turned away twice at 5 and 6 (baring in mind this is a grassroots club) from their soccer school simply because I wasn't good enough. Strange that I went on to represent their 1st team years later, but that's a different story. My next coaches at a different local football club were provokingly pivotal, not an idea on coaching or how to develop players. Almost a defining moment was when I scored 2 goals from coming off the bench and then the next week they didn't play me... completely baffling...! This was at U14! Things did turn for the better as they knew I was interested in coaching and pointed me in the right direction with doing my Level 1 course, and probably if not for that then I may have never taken it up!

    After years of constantly feeling like the underdog, having to prove myself because of my background it certainly taught me some good lessons of how to and how not to coach. I thank Carl from my 2nd club because without him I may have never taken up coaching. He constantly asked where I saw myself coaching and he was a major influence on me. Far too often as a player I've bared the brunt of politics and borderline scandal but its sure helped me for the person I am now. 

    For a good while now I have detached myself from the theory that coaching is not about coaching the sport but more about the player. More about providing players and people with the best possible experience and making sure they have a smile on their face (in any environment). Everything we expect of players we should expect of ourselves - risk, creativity, feedback, obtaining a growth mindset, commitment.... these are great values which are often overlooked!

    My journey has been far from linear, but I'm thankful for all my experiences for better or for worse. 

  • Ralph


    Thanks for your reply Richard, I’m pleased to find someone else that separates the C.V. from the journey. I see the C.V. as the destination.

    Although I’m happy to discuss worst pivot points, I wasn’t clear enough, I was hoping this was only going to be the positive points and the coaches we wished we had thanked.

    Your answer was excellent and only with your permission, I’d like to do a separate pivot point that covers negative things that have happened that, spurred us as kids to greater thing, as with part of your story.

    I think you are spot on with your theory about it being athlete centered, and see that as evidence, you were ahead of the curve. But I don’t have your patience with “bared the brunt of politics and borderline scandal.”

    Everything I’ve ever studied, suggests, nothing is linear, it’s not supposed to be linear and any view of linearity is an illusion. Covered well in the book The Master and his Emissary. Mc Gilchrist

    And that’s the point, because of your experiences, you were ahead of the new curve, that now puts the athlete first. You realised quite quickly anything else is the coaches’ ego and despite scoring two goals, which should mean performance and results are the primary, perhaps the truth is, coaches egos always come first

    As coaches we run a risky game, we are messing with people's lives, "with great power comes great responsibility". The advice we give should only be seen as advice, up-to the athlete to know what to believe in; they will anyway.

    "You’re lucky when you’re young if you find (a coach) someone that doesn’t talk down to you. That treats you seriously, as a serious person. If you want to be taken seriously, then take something seriously, don’t coast. Edward Norton

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