Hypothetical Answer

Athletes coached with the preceding philosophy would have a dream as exciting as any other, except it would feel bigger, deeper…and somehow more meaningful. They would believe in themselves and their journey, knowing their only job was to stay on that edge of constant learning and discovery. Taking risks would be second nature to them, as would experiencing a vitality of life that only exists outside their comfort zone and its fear based limitations.

They would have no trepidation of making mistakes or losing because in terms of achieving their ultimate potential, winning was understood to be largely irrelevant. Consequently, every single game they played would produce outcomes far closer to their actual best. Win or lose, it wouldn’t matter. The only consideration was whether their commitment, intention and effort had been optimal and if not, how that might be corrected. Yet, inexplicably, the less they focussed on winning, the more they actually ended up winning. They’d win more comprehensively. And they’d win with an air of lightness, enjoyment and absence of pressure that drove everyone else crazy. They’d make it look easy!

They wouldn’t seek fame or money, but would end up with all their sport had the capacity to provide. They wouldn’t go out to impress anybody, but inadvertently would end up impressing everybody. Not only with the quality of their play, but also their attitude, purpose and character. Every time someone watched them perform or had any interaction with them at all, they’d immediately sense the qualities these individuals brought to their sport. And because they would ultimately be more successful than any other athletes of their time, their message would set a new example for the adoring, worshipping spectators to follow.

These unassuming role models, using sport as a focal means for expression in life, would unconsciously usher in a new culture and all the changes that came with it. And most of us wouldn’t even realise it was happening.

Tania Gooley describes her experience of the methodology employed by Team Australia Beach Volleyball coaches (an embryonic form of the ideals cited above) in the preparation of her team for the 2000 Olympic Games:

“The approach used (in preparation for the Sydney Olympics) by the TABV coaches was positive, motivating and very powerful. It made me feel like we were heading in the right direction, when really none of us had a clue!

“The approach made the experience one of the best of my life! (It)…was all about having fun and enjoying the journey. After all, that is when you reach your best and play in that zone! It was certainly about enjoying it for me, and that I did! Of course it wasn’t always enjoyable, but I understood that that was part of the process, and in order to reach our goals, we had to go through the tough and disappointing times. If we didn’t, we would not have made the progress that we did.

“(The coaching methods)…affected my learning immensely, immeasurably, unbelievably! Having an open mind and the trust in the people that I worked with, allowed my learning to never stop! I believe this was a big factor in what I achieved. The approach was also very much about thinking for yourself and thinking about the things that you need to change/adjust to be the best that you can be.”

The PARADOX

In seeking justification to subvert all else to winning, we have lost sight of one crucial factor. While the desire to win can and does motivate athletes to compete at a higher level, if promoted as the primary objective in sporting endeavour, it can potentially also become the single biggest limitation to absolute performance.

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