Becoming an expert athlete
How does one become an expert? A couple years ago my brother Nate (former Edmonton Eskimos wide receiver) made a catch against the Toronto Argonauts that was absolutely mind-blowing.
He ran a route towards the sideline as the Eskimos quarterback, Mike Reilly, threw the ball up; Nate grabbed the football out of the air with one hand like it was the size of a tennis ball. The catch was so spectacular that it was featured in the TSN top 10 catches of that year.
Now let’s go back a few years to when Nate was a member of the Medicine Hat High Mohawks football team in 2001. Nate was in Grade 10 at the time, and I was a Grade 12 senior. I vividly remember one game where Nate was playing on the special teams unit known as the field goal squad. I remember that he got hit so hard on one of the attempts that he came to me on the sideline and asked if I would go in for him on the next field goal attempt. I declined and told him that he was able to do fine if he was a bit more aggressive. He ended up doing just fine for the rest of the game. You see, Nate was a novice football player at the time, but he would surely go on to become an expert.
How does one go from being a novice to an expert?
There is a school of thought which explains that you can give a step-by-step outline for an individual to follow in order to become an expert; this is know as a normative approach. Well this school of thought has been all but laid to waste as it has been shown to be mostly ineffective. A step-by-step process does not give us any real-life experience; it merely gives us an outline to follow if we end up in a particular real-life situation. There is another school of thought called the naturalistic approach which states that people use their experience in real-life settings to ultimately become an expert. This method holds a lot more validity and has been shown to have a large degree of success associated with it.
I am convinced that people learn to become experts by years of experience in these real-life settings. Nate learned to make that incredible catch in 2014 against the Toronto Argonauts through many years of experience in high school, college and the professional ranks. He made that catch as easily as he ate breakfast that morning. It was very second-nature to him.
This applies to all fields, whether it be sports, work or any other field that you may be in. We learn to become experts by experiencing real-life situations. We are a product of our experience with success and failure. Battling though the more difficult times helps us to learn and become better as a result of them.
Cory Coehoorn is the coordinator of the Alberta Sport Development Centre – Southeast. He would love to answer any questions that you may have in regards to their programs or services. He can be reached via phone at 403504-3547 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.