I’ve watched an enormous amount of sport in my time but something that always makes me sit open mouthed is individual decision-making on the field, often in the heat of the moment and I have seen some howlers.
Last week I watched schoolboy rugby and hockey. I saw a rugby team pinned to their try line receive slow and messy ball from a ruck and decide to run from their own goal-line with disastrous consequences. It was obvious that they needed a good clearance into touch or a kick deep into the opposition territory – preferably the corners.
I saw a young hockey player trying to be fancy and play “Hollywood” hockey in his defensive zone, instead of the quick, firm obvious pass to clear the lines. Once again, this poor decision-making cost dearly.
Later I watched senior rugby on television and similar mistakes were made. I must confess I believe too many young players try to over elaborate instead of keeping it simple – stick to the basics. There is a time for individualism and individual flair but invariably not in zones where the opposition can immediately punish you for errors or ineptitude. Why hold on to the ball when an early pass ensures continuity? After all the ball travels faster than one can run.
But is it really so difficult to make good decisions in game situations and can you be coached how to handle these situations?
In general, it is certainly not difficult to make good “game” decisions and there is no doubt coaching can assist in making these judgments, albeit in the heat of the moment.
However, this is a very important basic area of our sport – it may seem to be a detail but actually it is a fundamental building block of our sports performance.
I know many sports psychologists have worked on this key aspect of the game but I believe it is a badly neglected aspect of our coaching which translates to game situations.
It’s crucial we pay urgent attention to this vital area of our sports make up.