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Developing Reflective Players

Reflection allows us to dive into our experiences to support our future decision making.

Are we creating space in the session to have conversations? What are you doing around ‘downtime’ periods to create conversations? Who are you sharing conversations with? Coaching is all about people and with that comes conversation but in a hectic and chaotic world of distractions in a technology-driven age, it is becoming harder and harder to create conversation.

When we ask questions our minds begin to dive into our library of experiences and knowledge, even more so when we ask questions that people will enjoy answering. It is worth considering when and in what tone we ask our questions, players will often be more forthcoming when we ask questions informally rather than in a military-style and authoritative approach.

Players want the play the game so tactically using the time in and around this is golden, leaving Reflection MatchPlay Cards next to the water bottles during breaks or during transition moments between exercises maximising the time to get meaningful and productive learning from our experiences.

The conversations can reveal information and spark reflections to better understand both the person and player in front of you, asking players to reveal a Reflection MatchPlay Card from the deck during a team meeting allows coaches to hear the stories that otherwise may go amiss as players reflect on previous experiences to support their future decisions (Shoutout to Mark Egnar at Dartmouth College Field Hockey for that one!).

"They really made us think and communicate more as players" - Foundation Phase Player, Watford FC.

Putting a question into the playing group before an element of a session of before a game to influence the behaviour of players and impact the quality of response to that question after. This would begin to support players in building links and connectivity between their in-game actions and decisions.

The process of transferring responsibility from coach to player is guided by an environment where opportunities are created in session design and the willingness of coaches to step away from formally leading his or her group. Used as a tool to develop a players confidence in leading others and creating self-awareness whilst promoting reflective practice. Rugby Australia's Dwayne Nestor explains...

Debriefing provides athletes with an opportunity to process, manage and understand the experiences they have gone through, thus ultimately enhancing their mental and emotional recovery to bring an event to a close in their mind describes Elbe & Kellmann (2007). As we would with our technical practices, planning reflection into our sessions with Reflection MatchPlay Cards in between practices and at the end of sessions will support players in capturing their learning and building a greater base of knowledge for the future.

Select your questions wisely! Consider who is in front of you, where they are and where they need to be. Think about what information you may get back from asking a certain question. Stay curious with open ears to use responses to influence your future decision making.

We designed Reflection MatchPlay Cards for all of these reasons, combining our favourite conversation starters into one big deck of cards, where the answers to questions can’t be yes or no but rather responses generate conversation to wrap experiences together and support futures performances. We all have the answers but need to be asked the right questions!


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