Thursday, July 17, 2014

Joe Maddon of the Tampa Bay Rays on the Importance of Focusing on the Process

In my research for What Teachers Can Learn from Sports Coaches, I heard from a number of incredible coaches a pretty clear message about the importance of the process in teaching and learning. Specifically, several of the coaches told me that a key element of their success over the years has been focusing more on the process and less on the results. By focusing on the process (individual and team growth and development) with their players, and by coaching the athletes and teams toward mastery rather than performance (stats, scores and wins), the coaches have been able to improve the quality of individual and team performances. Perhaps that sounds counter-intuitive, but the evidence lies in the national championships and Olympic medals these coaches have accumulated.

I recently discovered a great quote by Tampa Bay Rays manager Joe Maddon (I did not obtain this personally for my book)  that summarizes this approach to process-focused coaching and teaching: "What I'm trying to convince them is, you're not trying to beat the Yankees or the Red Sox or the Blue Jays, you're trying to beat the game of baseball through execution." Maddon nailed it. This approach works equally well for baseball, hockey and soccer, as it does for writing, calculus and second languages. Just as Maddon has led his team into the playoffs and into the World Series by focusing on mastering baseball rather than focusing on beating particular teams, teachers, too, can lead their classes to success by focusing on mastering writing, calculus and language, rather than focusing on test scores.

No comments: