Fun, play and performance

by hadrian

Over the last 5 months, I have been subjected to many hours of play including lego, frisbee, paddleboarding, skateboarding and hide and seek for hours on end with our three very energetic young boys. Most of the time I have loved this although it took a while to really get into and reap the benefits my slightly distracted mindset says ‘you should really be doing something productive.’ The realization of these moments has been crucial in developing a better relationship between work and life while highlighting the importance of play in adulthood.

Play is well known to be a vital component in children’s abilities and opportunities to learn at their best. Chinese and Japanese students, who are among the best achievers in the world, attend schools that provide short breaks every 50 minutes. These breaks are opportunities to play freely without any particular goal or outcome where the primary objective is fun. There is also plenty of evidence that the playful environment is being implemented in the adult business world too.

Google offices are famous for their creative playful designs in order to inspire innovation and wellbeing in the workplace with most new offices being built in similar ways. Gone are the days of the dreary, grey workspace with all desks and chairs in a line. It’s easy to see why adults often lose the playful attitude to work and life as they get older due to conventions, habits, and sometimes just plain laziness. This is bad for mental health and performance.

Having coached age ranges from 3 to 70+ over the years it has been fascinating to see how different age groups require such varying types of delivery. One of the most impactful and difficult areas to teach adults is how to let go, whereas young children don’t even understand what not letting go is! In order to reach full potential, we need a level of physical and mental freedom to unlock high performance, and minds and bodies which are stuck in a state of methodical and repetitive control are doomed to underachieving. The creative brain is vastly faster than the cumbersome thinking brain. Think of those moments when your keys slip off the table and your hand shoots out and catches them before you have time to think. This is an intuitive response from a non-thinking state.

Play breaks us out of our regular thought patterns and lets the imagination run free to go wherever it wants. Children thrive in this place and adults need much more of it. It is incredible to see the impact of just changing the attitude in a session on the court from too serious and over-focused to light, playful and self-aware. Sometimes just a smile can unlock all of this. This is not to say that we just mess about with no goal or purpose or that hard work is not an essential part of success, but more that just discipline and effort is not enough without inquiry, creativity, variation and fun to unlock the true potential of the individual.

Try breaking up sessions with random tasks that have no purpose other than fun. Then return to the focus of the session and notice the shift in mindset and performance. Research shows that between 5 and 10 minutes is most effective for this kind of break and helps increase learning capacity and productivity.

After all, we all deserve some lightness during such a challenging time!

4 responses to “Fun, play and performance

  1. This is a very important part of any learning challenge. I wish more trainers would appreciate it, and dare/know how to implement it.
    Adding balance between confidence and esteem is also valuable to support courage and creativity.

    1. Glad you enjoyed the post Peter! Yes this is more important than ever in the current climate. We need good feelings and emotions to connect the mind and the body. 😊

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


28 years and counting for our summer camps!

by Hadrian

28 years and counting for our elitesquash junior summer camps. It’s both inspiring and a bit scary to know we have been running our summer camps for over 28 years. Elitesquash camps began in Exeter all those years ago with the mission to provide the ultimate environment for you people to maximise their potential. This…

learn more

5 top tips for good tactics

by hadrian

TOP 5 TIPS FOR GOOD TACTICS   Maximise the serve! The serve does not just start the rally. It’s your opportunity to disrupt from the first shot. When you go to serve think: ‘How can I disrupt my opponent right now with my serve’? Use variations or serve to create uncertainly but most of all…

learn more

British junior championships review

by hadrian

As always the team at Edgbaston priory club and Birmingham university provided an excellent experience for the British junior championships. Somewhere close to 500 kids battled it out across the two venues and it was very encouraging to see so many young players at such a high level when there is plenty of talk about…

learn more

Where focus goes, energy flows

by Hadrian Stiff

As part of a personal development, I am part way though there is a section on ‘state’. The state being referred to is the combination of a physical and mental position which we hold ourselves. Many things will affect the state, from the posture of the body to the internal dialogue in the mind. For example,…

learn more

The challenges of being coach and parent

by Hadrian Stiff

My 11 year old Son Elliott has just begun his junior tournament career and last weekend we travelled to London for the first event away from home. The main purpose of this event was to introduce the experiences of different courts, opponents and the pressure of this foreign environment and see how he responded and…

learn more
We use cookies to make the ELITESQUASH website a better place. By using the site, you agree to their use in accordance with current browser settings. To learn more about this and how we use data we collect, check out our Privacy Policy
Contact us

How can we help? Are you looking for something special?