In the long history of humankind, those who learned to collaborate most effectively have prevailed. However, in the world of competitive sport, there is often a fear of allowing competitors to see how you go about your business, in case they steal your ideas. Clubs, athletes and coaches are often convinced their way of doing things is the “right” way, and that by sharing their knowledge with peers that they may handicap themselves.
Do we really risk our own success by sharing our ideas and our challenges with our peers?
By sharing best practice and challenges, and being open to the suggestions and critiques of other people in a similar position – but with a slightly different point of view – we open up a whole new set of possibilities of how to get better. As progressive clubs, coaches and athletes, is it not an obligation to look for every way in which we might get a little bit better?
There are many examples from outside sport where collaborating, building on the success of others and learning from one another’s failures is celebrated, rather than dismissed. In aviation, black box information from aircraft are made available to all pilots and airlines, because the incremental improvement in safety (and other processes) are beneficial for the entire industry. In science, discovery from Scientist A is celebrated and critiqued by their peers in journals, then built upon by Scientist B. Why is there a fear of this in sport?
My gut feeling is that collaboration between clubs and coaches can improve everyone, without serious detriment to the individual involved. It’s my belief that we need to work together – not in our individual clubs – if we are serious about improving our sports. Improving the standards of training, coaching and running clubs will require access to ALL knowledge available, and this cannot happen in silos.
When I worked in netball, the clubs were only too happy to meet on a regular basis to work together. There was no fear that one club might steal ideas or poach talented athletes and coaches. Instead, they were all committed to the growth of their clubs and the improvement of the game. They even worked together to ensure athletes that did not make it through the dreaded “trial” process at the beginning with the season with Club A was offered a place at Club B, C or D. This positively influenced the growth and reputation of the individual clubs, and the sport in general.
Unfortunately in our culture, independence equates to strength, therefore interdependance equates to weakness. This is strange seeing as working together is a staple of how humans evolved. Working closely together and offering help and advice to peers on the understanding that you may not get an immediate return will require courage from Club Leaders. I am not convinced that hoarding of knowledge within your club is the best strategy for developing in 2019. I am convinced that the decision that requires personal and organisational courage is usually the correct strategy.
The higher the standard of our competitors, the better we are forced to become.
How might we get clubs and coaches to work together for the benefit of themselves and our sports?
Blair
P.S. if you are interested in some of the books I read to help write this article, join our free, monthly, email Book Club! For more information, click here.

Published by Blair Cremin

Club Development Manager at Scottish Fencing. I use sport as a vehicle to help others become healthier and happier.

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