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When the trainer becomes the trainee

When the shoe is on the other foot, it sometimes reminds us of what's truly important.

I’m coaching my son’s first grade CYO soccer team this fall and earlier this week I attended four and a half hours of mandatory meetings and training. The morning after the training, my wife asked what I learned.

I paused, then said: “You can’t bring your vuvuzela to games this year.” In fact, you can’t bring cow bells or whistles either.

She asked if I learned anything else during these four and a half hours. I paused again, then began to panic. It was less than 12 hours since I left the training, and Ebbinghaus’ forgetting curve was already kicking in!!

I’m a professional trainer, I thought to myself. I know all about this forgetting curve. It wasn’t going to happen to me. So I racked my brain. I was going to remember more stuff, darn it!!

It turns out I remembered some more stuff. I remembered several soccer drills that other coaches had shared during a small group discussion. I also remembered a variety of reactions that other coaches had when discussing on-field bullying during a small group activity.

As I reflected on this more deeply, it turned out that the few things I remembered most vividly had several things in common:

  1. They emerged as part of a small group discussion. I was an active participant in the content I remembered most easily.
  2. They also solved an immediate problem. I’m forever in search of new drills to keep the kids engaged.

I also remembered that Washington state has a law around concussions. We watched a video about it. Although I’m not quite clear what happens if somehow I violate this law. Actually, I think we’re supposed to take an elearning on this or check out a website for more information.

The facilitator was actually quite engaging. He boasted almost two decades of coaching experiences and had a lot of relevant anecdotes to share. His stories were interesting, entertaining, relevant and at times funny. Unfortunately, I don’t know that much stuck.

After four and a half hours… actually, we ended about an hour early so it was more like three and a half hours… I walked away with a few drills and a few ideas on how to deal with intra-team conflict. And I know to remind my wife to leave her air horn and bugle at home.

Perhaps the biggest return on my investment of three and a half hours of my time during this training session was the opportunity to be a training participant. It certainly reinforced the value for me in putting so much effort and time and thought into producing amazing learning experiences that engage the audience and lead to change.

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