Be­com­ing an expert ath­lete

Medicine Hat News - - SPORTS - Cory Coe­hoorn

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 ccoehoorn@mhc.ab.ca.

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