Searching For Lessons? Ignore Context

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Yesterday I wrote about the dangers of trying to replicate the successes of great teams and programs and coaches without considering the context in which those successes developed. Social and cultural context, level of athletes, power structure of the program, sport and gender are just a few of the contexts that impact the coach’s work. Whenever we read or hear about something that does or doesn’t work well, we must absolutely consider the context before we decide on the lessons we can use for ourselves.

But just as it would be wrong to accept everything exactly on its face value without considering context, it would be equally wrong to discard everything on the basis of its context. One of the most common responses to my posts and comments is some version ‘I agree at your level, but I coach…’. It is absolutely true that coaches of professional teams and players do work in a very specific environment that is not replicable for the majority of coaches. There are many elements of the professional coach’s work that are not applicable for coaches at other levels, most significantly the things related directly to time and resources; to prepare, to study, with the team etc. But to a very large degree, coaching is coaching and there is a lot of overlap particularly within a sport.

The lesson, as always, is avoid all extremes and question everything. Don’t do anything because someone else does it. Don’t reject anything because someone else does it. Develop your own principles and always be open to new perspectives.


The total of 82 practical Coaching Tips can be found here and here.


Read about the great new Vyacheslav Platonov coaching book here.

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