The Art of Sport.

A conversation on twitter is shown below:

Loving BBC2 Faster,Higher,Stronger: Imp. of mindset & dispositions making ultimate difference is striking, 'talent will only get you so far'

Yes,just what Andy Murray said prior to the Final.His mindset + even harder effort now will surely match/exceed his talent

I agree with @fullonlearning's tweet, especially "Talent will only get you so far." There is no doubt that Andy Murray is talented (not in the Gifted and Talented way that causes teachers in the UK to demonstrate their ignorance).

However it doesn't take much to explore why harder effort and mindset changes aren't quite enough for him.

To be successful in tennis I imagine the following non-exhaustive points are required:
  • Hand-eye coordination
  • Fitness
  • Strategy
  • Motivation
  • Opportunity to play in the professional matches
Can anyone doubt that Andy Murray doesn't have those? He is born with the first point, aims to maintain the second point and develops the 3rd over time. The 4th point is, I believe, innate. The 5th point is seized upon by his family from a young age.

However he is playing in competitive tennis at a time when a few players are dominating. That, therefore, stops him winning the major tournaments. What, though, causes him to get knocked-out in the early stages of a competition? I believe that it is the 4th point. I also believe that it is a fixed commodity unlike the other 4.

This type of study can be applied to education. We have spent a lot of the last 20 years saying that our pupils are all equally capable of achieving great things. We have said that effort alone is the key driving force in achieving success. We have assumed that everyone is equally motivated.

Consider the checklist again, but think of it in a school sense:
  • Hand-eye coordination - can they "hit the ball" educationally? Do they have basic skills?
  • Fitness - can they keep up the pace for a lesson? A day? A term?
  • Strategy - Are they aware of the key points in lesson or do they miss them?
  • Motivation - DO THEY WANT TO LEARN?
  • Opportunity to play in the professional matches - How good is the competition? The class? The teachers? The school?
To extend the analogy even further, Fred Perry equals O-Levels. The glory days of tennis/education are behind us (according to the media!) However, just change YOUR point of view a little.

Squash is the slightly less-loved sibling of tennis. Over the last 15 years, the UK have had incredible success as a nation in World squash.Men Women

If we change our focus, we become the world's best. The 5 points above apply to both tennis and squash. In fact they apply to almost any human endeavour at the highest level. The mind-set change that
@AnnBridgland speaks of is probably better aimed at our leaders and not our participants.

If we assume that our pupils are fixed in terms of motivation, we could then concentrate on developing the points we are in control of. To change the outcomes of a school requires great effort if you try changing every pupil. It would be much easier to change point number 5.


Enough said.