Competition ain’t playful – it can be healthy, if it’s goal-oriented. BUT… don’t confuse competition with play, actively engaging in relaxing, mindless, unstructured, “timeless” and/or energizing pastimes without any purpose other than having fun. Which, by the way, seriously promotes creativity, productivity, and health. Our need for play, our instinct for playfulness, is as fundamental to us as our need to breathe.
There are a gazillion sources for more information about play, such as The National Institute for Play founded by Dr. Stuart Brown, a researcher Brene Brown cites; a fascinating series of Psychology Today posts by Peter Gray Ph.D., and the Greater Good Science Center.
And then there’s Kyle Mclean, The Coaching Gig/Thriving Kiwi Coaches, another 2021 Playful Creative Summit participant, blurring the lines by bringing a new perspective to competitive sports as he infuses practice with fun through game-based coaching. No more drills. No more waiting in lines. He asks his players – often rugby professionals – to problem-solve – no more practicing skills in isolation of “real life (game)” scenarios. Crashing into teammates clutching foam pads isn’t going to duplicate an opponent’s bloody nose – but don’t ask me how Mclean helps players imagine it all. I think I’ll have head to New Zealand, his home base, and watch it in action.
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