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Performance-based outcomes

Why involve players in planning and decision-making for the game? Watch Paddy Upton explain.
PADDY UPTON: The reality is that winning happens in only one moment– when the final whistle is blown, when the last ball is bowled, or the race is run. Winning isn’t a habit, as many people believe. It’s a result. It’s a result that follows habits, such as planning smarter and working more effectively than your opponents. And having the right sprinkle of luck. During the course of a game, players shouldn’t be focused on winning, which would have their mind in the future. But rather on what they need to be doing in this and the very next moment. That will give them the best possible chance of success.
This process focus helps keep their minds focused on the present and on the task at hand. Ideally, if a player or team finds themselves in a mentally compromised space, such as being flustered, feeling pressure, fearful, confused, and whatever, one of the best ways is to ask themselves the question what’s important now? Or what’s important next? Both have the acronym WIN– Win. Either way, the answer should ideally direct them into the present and focus their minds on the task at hand. In order to be able to answer this question, what’s important now, players need to have clear performance or process goals, things they need to do or mindsets they need to have moment by moment throughout the performance.
What they need to focus on doing sits in the top right hand quadrant, and the mindsets they need to adopt sits in the top left hand quadrant. Both of these may well change as the game unfolds, and players need to be clear on what these changes are. So in order to have players with clarity of thought to be able to make the sound in the moment on the field decisions and adjust their games accordingly, they need to have been actively involved in the process of planning for the game, rather than have it imposed upon them by the coach. Under pressure, memory generally fails and players revert back to what they are familiar with.
Thus, players have a far better chance of remembering what to do if they were part of the decision making process in the first place. Again, they not only need to know the team game plans, but also to be clear on their own individual game plans within these team game plans. This mostly happens in a player centred environment. As a practical example, in one of the teams I recently coached we decided that the brand of cricket we would play would be smart and attacking. There were detailed discussions about what this means to each individual player, so that when in doubt or under pressure in a game situation, players innately knew what smart and attacking meant for them.
They weren’t just words in a pre-match motivational talk. Smart, for example, meant taking the extra few seconds to make a clear decision. And if necessary, to check the decision with a teammate closest to them. And then when considering the options, it was to take the attacking one. I not only include players in planning for games, but I also ask them to give their input on how we can make training sessions and meetings more enjoyable and effective. After all, these are done for the player’s benefit, so why not ask them? It’s not just about what we do– the science of performance– but also how players feel about what we do, which are on the left hand or odd quadrants.
Happy and engaged teams are more successful than unhappy ones. In fact, research suggests they are 30% more successful.

Winning isn’t a habit; it’s a result.

As we saw in the previous step, focusing on the moment, and the next few moments, is going to have a more positive impact on the outcome than looking to the future – to the moment the siren sounds or the bell rings to signal the end of class or to the end of the project.

During the planning phase it’s important to ask players what they think is going to give them the best possible chance of achieving the outcome and what they’ll focus on play-by-play, ball-by-ball. In this way, they have some input into decision-making and to their own game.

As a coach, one question to ask yourself is whether a player who’s under pressure and needs to focus on those things that are important right now is clear on what they have to do right now to achieve the goal. Determining if each player is clear on the goals is a fundamental step in a player-centred approach.

Your task

In the video I discuss the importance of being present in the moment and how the acronym ‘What’s Important Now (WIN)’ can assist players to be present.

Wilber’s integral map places an individual’s visible and tangible skills and behaviours in the top-right quadrant and invisible and intangible attributes in the top-left quadrant.

Imagine you’re a coach who wants to implement a player-centred approach to planning. In the comments, share the arguments you could make to senior officials/leaders and players, to convince them of the importance of incorporating both quadrants in the planning process.

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Player-centred Coaching

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