Image via WikipediaHow Basketball Skills Can Help You to Hold Better Meetings
Last night, I ended up being the defacto facilitator for a group meeting. This experience has led me to reflect on skills acquired in therapy and "healthy living" and how they pertain to real life.
My group was asked to come up with some recommendations to be transmitted to national headquarters. We started out getting to know each other and then we turned to the task at hand. Naturally, there were a few people who dominated the conversation with everyone else sitting on the sidelines. So, I spoke up and suggested that we break out into small groups and have each group come up with a consensus on recommendations. This was well received so I asked people to count off by 4's and then have each group coalesce by their numbers. So people broke off and began their discussions.
People seemed happy with me continuing to facilitate, so I asked each group for their recommendations and let the group discuss them. After each small group presented their ideas, I summarized our ideas and asked everyone if they thought this was a reasonable summary or if it needed to be modified. Everyone was happy with what I had done so I submitted our final report.
So how does this all fit in with basketball? Great basketball players like Magic Johnson have a "court sense", i.e., they know what is going on with everyone around them in real time. I don't quite have that yet. I have to consciously make an effort to stop and check in. So, I took a look at how these superstars develop "court sense". Naturally, court sense involves understanding a lot about the rules of the game and offensive/defensive tactics that are likely to be used in any given situation. But it also involves knowing when to shoot a basket, hang on to the ball and penetrate defenses, or pass the ball in real time.
Isn't this kind of like conversation in a group? When to talk, when to hold forth in great detail, or when to stop and listen to other people? And, this is just the verbal part. There is a whole lot of nonverbal communication going on in terms of the way people hold their bodies: open or closed positions. There is a whole lot nonverbally going on in terms of the way people group together -- groups that are open or closed to new comers, etc. Good facilitators know how to take the temperature of the group and keep checking that temperature periodically.
All of this gets to be a little hard when you have problems with your vision and hearing. My peripheral vision isn't as good as it should be so it's a bit harder to see what all the folks are doing at all times. In basketball, they do a lot of drills to improve court sense that involve expanding peripheral vision. Great peripheral vision is a gateway into "The Zone".
So “how do I get into ‘the zone?”
The answer is: expand your awareness of your field of peripheral vision.
One drill used by Basketball player is to stand on one baseline looking directly at the basketball hoop at the other end of the court (getting a “line of sight.”) and without taking your eyes off that basketball hoop, trying to see things that are outside your line of sight. That is, to become aware of everything; bleachers, walls, floor, lights, scoreboard, , etc. Then, Keeping your eyes on that basketball hoop slowly dribble towards it staying keenly aware of the gymnasium that is within your peripheral vision, especially everything within the bounds of the basketball court. While dribbling and walking what’s your perception of what you are seeing?
The father of vision therapy, Dr. Seiderman, coached many of the great athletes of his day on the expansion of peripheral vision as a way to develop court sense. In his book, "The Athletic Eye", he has a series of drills to develop peripheral vision. He points out that there are two styles of visual functioning: "hard eyes", looking at the world in as sharp a focus as possible by looking at the hard edges of things and "soft eyes", not looking at the world in sharp focus but seeing movement and relationships clearly.
So, maybe facilitating involves using "soft eyes" to keep in touch with where everyone is. Kind of has a nice ring to it, doesn't it? Using soft eyes to tune into other people's emotions. I like that.