To switch or not to switch

February 12, 2016

george orwell


If u had a blank canvas and could fill with an ideal training week how would this ideal training week look?

Whether it was running, cycling, lifting, movement or football skills I know I would have just one criteria.

The criteria: To be in an environment that switches me on.


A few evenings ago I had a football (soccer) practice with a group of very wild boys.

Wild boys you say! How wild? I could only politely describe this group one way.

These are the kind of boys that George Orwell wrote about in the novel Animal Farm.

In the past I had seen these particular boys decimate the ego’s of grown well educated men with their dodgy behaviour and disruptive antics of mischief.

In a past album Beyonce claimed to be fierce. Uh, uh. That ain’t fierce. These lads were fierce.

So fear mongering was this team coaches would take turns just so they could avoid training these boys.

I knew I was next.

Team A.F. didn’t disappoint. From the get go it was game-on.

When I gathered them around to discuss the lesson plan they were flicking their buddies ears, bouncing balls and looking at me like I was the stupidest man on the planet.

After this painful introduction of utter uselessness I got them going. In the very first exercise they were given boundaries to stay within.

Within 10 seconds a quarter of the group went running past the boundaries, another quarter of the players were randomly kicking their balls high in the air. Meanwhile, the other half looked as if they would rather be anywhere else in the world. Their body language suggested a sewing class would be more enjoyable.

Even worse, all the parents were watching. (The parental attendance watching our practice in particular was unusually high. I think it became ongoing entertainment for the parents to see their children make grown men whimper so effectively )

There was only thing I could do. I had to switch them on.

The first thing I did was get them together in a huddle and give them what I call a pleasant row. In front of their parents I told them they would be an embarrassment to their own blood line if they carried on this way. I told them that if they decided to misbehave in my session they could sit down and watch (it was belting of rain). By this point they were a wee bit scared and definitely switched. Quite pleasantly so were their parents. You could almost hear the parents think “my Johnny better not embarrass me.” Now that they were switched I had to flick the switch up to on. At this point I used all of my coaching experience to get them moving.


By the end of the hour it turned out to be a brilliant session. The wild boys were taking absolutely every piece of activity and coaching advice into their rebellious wee hearts. The energy previously expended into being disruptive was now catapulting forward to developing. The boys were learning–they were giving it–and they were playing hard. At the end each player shook my hand and said thank you with the fateful words…”see you next week coach.”


For all I know they might be planning the entire upcoming week at school lunch on how to get coach Jase back. Regardless, for this week at least, I enjoyed the experience.

Going back to the original part of the story and the whole point of this post really:

If this particular group of boys were not in an environment that switched them on the end product would never have happened.  They would not have had a good training session–they would not have sweated like they did–they would not have learned like they did–and they definitely would not have been as engaged.

This is important to digest because for the majority of us, training is just not fun. There is other things we’d rather be doing. (Dentist/talking to your Aunt/board games!!!) If exercise wasn’t meant to be so damn good for us, any sane person would rightfully avoid the self inflicted masochistic torture altogether. However, when you are switched on I cannot think of anything better. (Ok, ok I can think of one thing better).

Anyway @ TLA we switch you on.