The Simplicity of Sport

Sep 13, 2011
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The coach and athlete of today now have a wealth of information at their fingertips to support their goal of developing athletic ability. This information may be derived from academic journals or coffee -table magazines, perhaps it is gleaned from internet chatlines or from credible sources organizations like NCPAD, but wherever it comes from sorting the kernel from the chafe requires skill and pragmatism. The phrase “A little knowledge could be a dangerous thing” is a necessary and cautionary reminder that not every piece of coaching wisdom is well conceived or suitable for your special needs athlete.  There is certainly a danger in over-analyzing every single possible risk, benefit, sports tactic, counter tactic, etc, and you may find your head is whirring with contradictory ideas; sports psychologists might suggest that you are in a state of “analysis – paralysis.”

The locker-room maxim: “Keep it simple stupid” (the KISS approach) is a some what vulgar reminder that  sport is fundamentally a natural expression of movement. It is play and is meant to be fun. Children understand the simplicity of play and don’t need complicated rules to dictate or facilitate its flow. As adults we easily lose our way by examining, analyzing, trying to synthesize massive amounts of information in the hope that it will make us a better athlete. It almost seems paradoxical that an athlete can often improve by returning to simplicity; “getting back to basics” as it is known in the vernacular.

Albert Schweitzer, the great humanitarian and scientist, once wrote: “We should move from naïve simplicity to profound simplicity.”  Certainly a coach should continue to develop their knowledge of training to help guide their athletes on a path to improved performances, but emphasize the simplicity of it all. Have fun, stop worrying about details and outcome. Have Fun (it’s worth repeating) and enjoy the simplicity of playing sports.

Author: Gary Barber