One key to pitching ideas and books is to continually reach out to potential readership. A week ago I presented at the fall conference of the Maine Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association. From that experience I was asked to write a short article for the national AD magazine. Here's a draft for IAA Magazine's “AD’s Clipboard”:
"Learning with Athletic Team Notebooks & Journals"
by Richard Kent, Ph.D.
“Writing organizes and clarifies our thoughts. Writing is how we think our way into a subject and make it our own. Writing enables us to find out what we know—and what we don’t know—about whatever we’re trying to learn.”
––William Zinsser, Writing to Learn
Whether on the playing fields or in the classroom, writing is a powerful way to learn. Athletic Team Notebooks and Journals can enhance communication and amplify learning by providing athletes with space to analyze, reflect, and note-take. The idea of using writing as a way to learn in athletics is not new. From Olympians to middle schoolers, athletes use writing to guide training, motivate, and analyze performance.
What’s a Team Notebook?
Writing in Team Notebooks helps guide athletes to think more deeply about their performances and the team’s. The basic Team Notebook has five sections that include prompts to help players analyze their practice sessions and competitions:
–Preseason Thoughts… the prompts on this page help athletes think about the previous season and the upcoming season.
–Competition Analysis I… the prompts on this page help athletes reflect on a competition.
–Competition Analysis II… the prompts on this page assist athletes in analyzing a competition that they watch.
–Postseason Thoughts… the prompts on this page guide athletes in thinking about the past season while making plans for the future.
–Notes & Journals… these pages provide athletes with a place to keep notes and sketch plays. This section may also include a variety of journal prompts to assist athletes in thinking more broadly about their sport and their lives beyond athletics.
What’s an Athlete’s Journal?
An Athlete’s Journal provides a place to set goals, grapple with issues, keep track of training ideas, and record results. These journals may stand-alone or be a part of a Team Notebook. Research suggests that writing benefits athletes by reducing stress and anxiety, increasing self-awareness, sharpening mental skills, and strengthening coping abilities. Writing in journals or notebooks helps athletes look back and think forward. Here are several model journal prompts for athletes:
––Who brings out the best in you as an athlete and why? You might first think of a coach, manager, or trainer, but also think about family members, fans, teammates, or even an opponent.
–– Tell the story of your proudest moment as an athlete that is not about winning a competition.
–– Write about this quotation from basketball legend Michael Jordan:
“I've missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I've lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I've been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I've failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”
–– When you were young, whom did you admire as an athlete and why?
–– Write a letter to one of your former coaches. You may wish to include some of the following: what you’re doing now as an athlete; this coach’s contributions to your athletic and personal life; the issues you currently face as an athlete; a fun memory; and a photo. Send this letter.
–– Why can this statement be true: “Some days, playing poorly is the most important result that could happen.” Give examples from your own experiences as an athlete.
–– After a competition, write a note to an opponent. Highlight the athlete’s strengths or weaknesses, and feel free to offer some advice. (Not to be sent.)
––How do you cope with anxiety or nervousness before a competition?
––Describe your most humiliating day as an athlete.
For more information and models of Athletic Team Notebooks and Journals, visit the resource Website WritingAthletes.com.
Richard Kent, PhD, is professor at the University of Maine and director of the Maine Writing Project. He has authored ten books, including The Athlete’s Workbook: A Season of Sport & Reflection and the Soccer Team Notebook (with Amy Edwards, Gonzaga University). He may be reached at his resource Website: WritingAthletes.com