Results for category "Learning"

10 Articles

a time to lead, a time to follow

Al Smith
Oct 7, 2015

I spent the day today delivering a leadership development workshop and have come away feeling increasingly like there’s something missing in the conversation.

Whilst there’s no shortage of views on and approaches to developing leadership hardly anyone is talking about or offering development opportunities in followship. So much so that my spell checker has just told me that the word doesn’t even exist!

At myfastestmile we believe that anyone journeying to excellence must learn both how and when to lead and how and when to follow for its in this sense of fellowship that we can find a common purpose and truly co-create a future that helps us all to bring the best of ourselves.

It seems to us that it will be those who are brave enough to enter this liminal space as fellow learners who will best ready themselves for the challenges posed by the social age that we’re all moving into. That’s why we’ve decided to establish ‘relearn’.

We’re passionate about learning and development in sport and love to talk with other people who share our passion. Through ‘relearn’ we aim to curate a learning space where people can bring their ideas and experiences of coaching and its development to a community that shares a common desire to put learning at the heart of what they do.

We’d love for ‘relearn’ to generate a sense of fellowship for those who engage with it and hope you’ll join us in bringing it to life.

relearn | a rethink of learning

we believe its time to rethink learning and development in sport and we’re finding that this view is shared by more and…

born of frustration

Al Smith
Oct 6, 2015

“stop, stop talkin bout who’s to blame, when all that counts is how to change” Born of Frustration by James

England’s recent failure to progress beyond the “group of hell” at the Rugby World Cup has prompted the usual round of recriminations but perhaps more surprisingly a significant number of calls for restraint and balance in assessing the progress made by Stuart Lancaster’s England side and the future of a man who appears to be universally liked within the game.

It is doubtless of little solace to Lancaster and his side that judgement has fallen somewhat kindly on them in the immediate aftermath of their very public purging as their ambitions were bent on a very different ending. So quite where did it all go wrong? Did the players simply need to be better coached or are there deeper issues at play in the way that players are developed in the English game? If coaching and learning are indeed at the heart of the answer, then the problem is a complex one that won’t lend itself to the usual recipe of solutions.

Whilst Lancaster has been rightly commended for the seismic shifts he’s made to the culture in his England side the reality is that these changes are in large part disconnected from the rest of the game. It would not have done for the England coach to suggest that a home tournament be no more than a stepping stone on a longer, tougher and more fruitful journey to sustainable success but this is just the predicament that England Rugby now finds itself in and the decision about what to do next could not be a more important one.

Players are the product of the culture from whence they came and this current crop of England stars were bred in a wider sporting world that has dazzled with data but has been largely bereft of beauty. To turn that ship around requires equal doses of foresight and fortitude as well as a recognition that future solutions must be born of and fit for people operating at all levels of the game and must celebrate a diverse culture that includes thriving provincial rugby clubs as well as players who are thriving overseas.

The route to an answer for rugby, or for any other of England’s troubled sporting teams, does not however lie in the abandonment of the analytical advances that have given us new insight into the workings of the human body, the interaction of man and technology or the biases that bewilder our best judgement. Data in itself is not the issue but in its wielding there are problems a plenty. The illusion of certainty that comes with the worst abuses of data analytics can be a powerful force for authoritarian control and the protection of historical hierarchies by those compelling people to subordination and compliance with the allure of the algorithm. Its tempting even to suggest that this is a problem predicated on patriarchal power given that the growth of women’s team sport (exemplified most recently by the success of the England Hockey team) seems better adapted to the need to balance art and analytics, but that is perhaps an argument for another day. Whilst many cultural barriers to change remain deeply entrenched, it is becoming clear that even in the most ambitious of data driven performance domains common sense and human holism are returning to the fore.

In the wider context of sport development in the UK, the question that must be addressed is whether young players are layering the right kind of learning on to the storybook of experiences that they are led through as they journey the ranks of their sport. To meet this challenge, leaders must keep one eye on the present and one eye on the purpose for this is where learning meets its destiny. It is increasingly apparent that the long game here requires a different kind of thinking to the prevailing view as this is a challenge akin neither to pyramid building nor the provision of public transport despite a common need to see past the immediacy of what happens next and into an ambitious version of the future.

For too long the solutions to the human challenges of our times have been drawn from the toolbox of the mechanical makers who figured out how to execute a perfect plan with precision processes to deliver products rather than develop people. However, there is now a new kind of maker in town with both the attitude and the aptitude to meet the prevailing needs of the social age. The future of learning deserves to be co-created by passionate people who put holism and humanity at the heart of what they do.

Whether the decision makers who pass permission to those who seek to shape that future for sport recognise the need to turn and meet the prevailing tide or choose to bunker down and protect what looks distinctly like a crumbling edifice to the ways of the past will in large part write the history of the likes of Lancaster and his men. We can only hope that they’ll be remembered for the right reasons.

relearn | a rethink of learning

we believe its time to rethink learning and development in sport and we’re finding that this view is shared by more and…

A need to “relearn”?

Mark Upton
Sep 15, 2015

Self-Directed Learning is almost certainly at the core of the future of learning – @trenducation

This is quite a powerful statement. What emerging evidence might provoke such a strong statement? Is it relevant to learning in sport?

Well, in the last few weeks we have come across 3 examples…

Paul Cortes describing his self-directed journey in understanding and effectively implementing a games-based coaching approach.(

I sought out books on the topic at hand and read as much as I could. I followed coaches and sports scientists on twitter and went through my timeline each morning, reading their discussions and favoriting the links they shared for further reading. I watched coaching DVDs and noted the drills that fit the criteria of a gamelike drill, ones that include not only the action, but the perception as well. I began building a bank of those drills that I now use in my practices. I found other blogs that share the philosophy and emailed with various coaches back and forth. I started my own blog, HoopThink, not because I felt like I had anything special to say, but because I’ve always enjoyed writing, and I wanted to get feedback from other coaches. I also learn a lot when I write things down. I’m too self conscious to keep and write a journal, but yet I’m willing to publish something for the masses to see. Go figure.

Also, Julius Yego the new world-champion in the Javelin event…

I do not have a coach, my motivation comes from within. My coach is me, and my YouTube videos

And finally, Kit Dale, Australia’s first world-class black belt in Jiu-Jitsu.

So here I am, Kit Dale, 28 years old achieving a Black Belt in 4 years without world-class coaches, without world class training partners and in a country that has never produced a World Champion Black Belt. I’m living proof that you don’t have to have the best coach, nor the best training partners or facility or a million different techniques. All you need is an intelligent approach, an open mind, and a belief system stronger than your loudest critics.

3 great stories of self-directed learning. But is it the future? Is it THE answer? When it comes to learning, what is the role of the coach? or the coach developer? or the sporting club/organisation? or research and theory? These are questions that are in need of a forum…

We are trying to create that forum through an event called “relearn” – a space for anyone to contribute to shaping the future of learning in sport, at any level.

We would love to have you involved, so please take the first step to finding out more and contributing by following the link below…


relearn | a rethink of learning

we believe its time to rethink learning and development in sport and we’re finding that this view is shared by more and…

Mark O’Sullivan – Coaching & Learning


Mark is a youth coach in Stockholm, works for the Swedish FA in a coach education capacity and has an eclectic background that has contributed to his learning journey. Al and I thoroughly enjoyed “hanging out” with Mark and look forward to further opportunities to do so!

You can check out Mark’s blog here (highly recommended!)…