In preparation for my upcoming coaching experience, I have started reading The Double-Goal Coach by Jim Thompson, the founder of the Positive Coaching Alliance. As I read, I hope to add frequent posts about things from the book that I feel are significant. My first post is about the ELM Tree.
The Positive Coaching Alliance has started an effort to help coaches and teams move away from the "win-at-all-costs" or scoreboard approach to youth sports to more of a mastery and life skills approach. In Chapter 2, Thompson attempts to redefine what a Winner is. He explains that inherent in the scoreboard approach are three main focuses: the results, comparisons with others, and avoiding mistakes. When we focus on the results of the game, all that matters is who has the most points. It doesn't matter if you play poorly, as long as you win. Comparisons to the other team are easily made. We scored more points, we must be better. Following the scoreboard approach necessitates avoiding mistakes because mistakes "lead to bad results on the scoreboard" (pg. 22).
By contrast, the ELM Tree of Mastery focuses on Effort, Learning and improvement, and the way we respond to Mistakes. Sure it is great to win, but here putting forth your best effort is more important. Every time we go out and play (or run), we are learning and improving, getting better than we were before. This has always been my philosophy to running. I don't compare myself with others, I want to improve on my own race times. The third part of the ELM Tree is concerned with how we respond to making mistakes. Mistakes are not something to be feared. We learn through making mistakes. They provide opportunities for us to grow and improve. This, I feel, is especially important in sports.
I hope I can use the ELM Tree to help my kids be the best they can be and feel good about what they are doing, whether it be running or anything in life.