Last week my wife and I ventured WAY out of our comfort zone… we took a weeklong class living aboard, and learning to sail a 37’ catamaran off the coast of Southern Florida. You can read about our exploits and see some pictures here… BowLines.
During this week, in addition to learning a little about myself, I was also reminded of some key teaching/ coaching concepts:
Understanding different learning styles is important.
There were three people on the boat taking the class…. me, my wife, Jamie, and another young women named Anna… each with different experience and more importantly, different learning styles.
I like to read (yes, I typically read the manuals with any new purchase) then DO so I can be as “perfect” as possible and not make any embarrassing mistakes. Anna was just the opposite… she wanted to jump right in and DO, not mattering if she got some things wrong in the process. Jamie wanted to take things slow, with a lot of hands on instruction. Our captain and teacher made no accommodations to any of our learning styles… he told us straight away “there would only be a certain amount of instruction, then we would have to DO”. He was pretty salty and did not care if he made you feel foolish or stupid… it was his job to teach and keep you safe. Consequently, we all had a different feeling about our experience and what we learned.
When teaching a lot of new information, pace is important.
As coaches, we always discuss the pace during our installation. We know that there is a set amount of information that we need to get through in order to be ready to play come game time; but we also know that if we proceed too quickly, we will overwhelm our new players with too much new information and get paralysis by analysis. We always try to reach that happy medium regarding pace.
I was reminded of this…. actually slapped in the face with it… on my first day at the helm. Our captain asked me to steer a proscribed compass heading. After a while, I felt fairly comfortable keeping the boat on the heading… looking at the bow, horizon, and compass. But then he added some new instruction and information… the waves in the Atlantic off of Miami were getting larger, and he instructed that I “turn the bow into the larger waves”. That one simple added instruction threw me… I had a very difficult time steering the correct heading AND turning into the waves. Much like, I suppose, when I ask an outside linebacker to line up correctly against a #2 receiver in the slot AND THEN make a correct read when the ball is snapped.
There is a reason it is called your “Comfort Zone”.
This was uncomfortable… it physically and mentally tested Jamie and me… it was at times exhilarating, and at times exhausting. The physical aspect made the mental part more difficult. The effect was cumulative… it got harder to concentrate and process new information later in the week. Much like it would be for a new player in your program after a week of double day practices. But, when the week was over, we had a whole set of new skills and new information at our disposal… and with that a sense of accomplishment.
You can read a couple of previous posts about getting out of your comfort zone here:
Remember – You Can Do More… your brain is lying to you…. Don’t Believe It!
Jeff Floyd – firstname.lastname@example.org