Building Capability and Capacity


So, we’re nearly through the second week of Wimbledon. The main draws in both women’s and men’s singles each feature 128 of the most talented players on the planet. It’s now been narrowed down to the last four in the men’s and the finalists in the women’s singles.  Technically there is little difference between those who’ve already lost and the woman and man who will raise the trophies at the weekend.

The scoring system in tennis means that those that have got so far have not only played well but are those who have managed themselves and their energy most effectively at the right time.  This enrgy ebbs and flows through the course of the match.

At this level the margins are fine but it’s also being able to stay present, or stay in the moment, at critical points that makes the difference.  In tennis this is done by developing the ability not to be rattled by set backs.  At the top level in tennis players learn routines to still their minds after a point and re-focus on the next point.  These can be things like playing with their racket strings, bouncing the ball before serving.  Whatever the action they are ways of tuning out of the last piece of action and re-focusing on the next.

The pioneer in researching this in sport, Jim Loehr, has also extended his work into business, where senior people often start early, work long hours and go from meeting to meeting.  Understanding how to use small amounts of time to tune out and re-focus has been critical to build capacity (and hence productivity).  We have used similar techniques with teams in challenging environments to great effect, building capacity and ensuring positive outcomes.

Building capacity is not about working longer hours, it’s about working smarter. This includes becoming aware of your own energy and capacity and learning and practising techniques to increase your focus.  Even when you’re at your busiest you need to take breaks, your productivity can drop-off without you noticing.  Learn how to use the break time to tune out, then in returning take stock and re-focus.  It also helps us to manage the ebbs and flows that we face and so readily affect our confidence, one of the most significant factors in our performance in all areas of our lives.

#capacity #energymanagement #continuouslearning #capability #coaching #tennis #wimbledon #rogerfederer #staypresent

Davis Cup Coaching

It was interesting to watch some of the court side coaching interludes when GB played Slovakia recently.  It was great to see Dan Evans seal the win under pressure in the deciding rubber against Slovakia but I was unsure what coach Leon Smith was aiming to do at the changeovers.  While I didn’t catch the whole match, at every changeover Leon seemed to be talking incessantly to Dan.  This is nothing new – previous coaches seemed to do the same – continuously talk to their charges during changeovers, maybe they see this as their way of justifying their existence as captains.  While it may have been seen to work with Dan, it can hardly be effective.  As human beings it is doubtful we can take in a constant verbal stream throughout a 90 second changeover.

A more interesting story of man management came up in Spain’s victory over Argentina in 2008.    Verdasco playing Acasuso was 2 sets to 1 down, with the Argentinian crowd going wild, when at the change of ends he told Emilio Sanchez (the Spanish Davis Cup captain) that he couldn’t play, as the crowd was getting to him.  At this Emilio started packing Verdasco’s bags up – asked what he was doing, Emilio said that as Verdasco was unable to play that was ok they would quit and Verdasco could explain to the people of Spain why.  Verdasco went on to win in 5 and seal the Davis Cup for Spain.

Sanchez_Verdasco “It’s amazing,” said Sanchez Vicario. “It was an incredible match of ups and downs. In the end Fernando was the better player.

“It was very tough for us because Fernando was fighting with the crowd and not listening to us.

“But he has been playing at a higher level than Acasuso all season and is very strong physically. He wasn’t even tired. We’ll celebrate with a lot of wine.”

Often it’s key interventions that make the difference not simply a constant stream of information that’s not readily absorbed!