Can amateurism help get the most from top athletes?

I have been reading a book called “What Sport Tells us about Life” and have learnt a lot about the intense philosophising that sport creates.

A photograph of Mark Ramprakash.
A photograph of Mark Ramprakash. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Have a think about this sporting situation:

Mark Ramprakash – international and county cricketer has become a legend of ‘unfulfilled talent’ because his record playing at county level is hugely more successful than his record playing for England.  The author, Ed Smith says

In the 10 years I have been playing county cricket, more dressing-room hours have been spent discussing his career than any other…. How could he be so talented and so technically adept and yet not come through eventually?… Was he dropped from the England team so many times that it became impossible for him not to be constantly looking over his shoulder?

After he finished playing internationally, Ramprakash spent time in his off-season doing the TV show ‘Strictly Come Dancing’ and he had this to say about that experience

Every session was so enthusiastic, varied and fun – it’s an attitude that could really make a crossover to cricket.  Cricket practice can be so technical and stereotyped.  Everyone’s so worried about the left elbow – is it in the right place?  Cricket’s a game!  Something to be enjoyed.  That would be one massive thing I’ve got from this [experience].

Mark went on to win the ‘Strictly’ tournament.  A splash of amateurism enabled him to start to enjoy training and competing and that relaxation coupled with his sportsman’s training of discipline and technique pulled together a successful outcome.

How could this apply to your athletes?

Do you have top club athletes who won’t make the national squad but are still capable of doing well.  Can you set up a new challenge for them that will release the ‘shackles’ of the stereotyped rowing outing and release their potential in an un-threatening but potentially fulfilling competition?


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