Craig is a nationally recognised , brilliant coach and here he offers a real personal and initmate reflection on being a dad to his daughter, in a way that can be related too by any parent. Enjoy his letter.
‘Time is a game played beautifully by children’
The greatest game designer I know.
It captivates me to see how you take up with your sporting endeavours. A joyous gallop to field a cricket ball, the enviable grace of your backstroke or the infinite energy with which you deliver a gymnastics back layover. I observe you in these environments first as your Dad, but also I confess, as a coach. Something I work hard to suppress, but more on that later.
I’m fascinated by your motivation. Motivation, that may or may not be apparent to you, and I think there is a richness in that somehow. If I may be so bold, I might say you play Cricket for social interaction, a sense of working together with friends. Swimming is about the adventure, learning how your body interacts in and with water. Gymnastics however, is about mastery. Gazing in awe and wonder of those who tumble, twist and swing. As the lounge rug shuffles once more at the impact of yet another cartwheel, round off or back layover I notice your competitive spirit, your drive, your perseverance.
‘Knowing as we go!’
At your recent competition you cried at the door, uncertain as to whether you could go on. Self-doubt and an awareness of reward and consequence drawing on your attention. I couldn’t be there, my engagement limited to an online feed. I sit helpless updated only by your Mums text from the car park outside the venue. I notice my emotions, far superseding those of coaching an Olympic final. Seemingly qualified and experienced to handle this situation, I feel helpless. Unable to reach out, to correspond, and it turns out to handle this experience very well.
I sense not much, if indeed any of this will matter down the line but perhaps for how we navigate this together. I say together because even though some people come to Daddy seeking advice and consult in the realm of sporting excellence, it’s important you know that he doesn’t know what he doesn’t know. Here as we navigate the rich entanglement of your growing love for physical movement, social interactions and competitive mastery I call upon myself to be present. To immerse myself in this unique interaction of you and the environment through the lens of me as Dad. To be nothing more than a companion leading out into the unknown, exploring together. You have never been here before, likewise me as Parent and Sherpa.
So next time I lean into the poolside window angry that you aren’t in the pool yet, 10 mins into a 30mins lesson or when you line up in queues at gymnastics, I shall have a word with my attention. For what is most important for you is unlikely to be my opinion as a coach but my companionship as a father. A companionship where you lead the dance, and the tune to which we dance is far from a soundtrack to my knowledge.
Craig Morris is an award winning high performance coach and mentor. With over 17 years experience of coaching and leadership in performance sport, Craig has supported multiple individuals and teams to European, World and Olympic Medals in the sport of Canoe Slalom. Within this role he is also recognised for supporting the growth of many colleagues to acquire leadership roles across the sporting landscape. His experience and expertise are highly regarded both at an individual level and across high performing teams.
Embodying a person first approach to coaching, Craig supports people to enhance self awareness, achieve personal growth and deliver high performance across multiple sectors including sport and business.