Politicians when they are in campaign mode… tend to campaign in poetry, in simple terms and high-level messages.
When you get into office you have to govern in prose … and face a very serious reality check.
I was fascinated by the juxtaposition of poetry and prose in this quotation. It prompted me to think about how teachers and coaches create their learning opportunities and the language they use to mobilise interest and engagement.
My work has been profoundly influenced by the approach taken by Miller Mair. Three decades ago (link), he observed that he used “a story telling approach which attends more to our ‘acts of telling’ than to particular methods by which we ‘get the facts straight’, He added “Every telling is a composition with personal intentions. Every telling is partial, suffused with personal interest”.
Miller has a clear sense of what poetry is to him “By poetry I do not mean short lines on a page that may or may not rhyme. I am referring to an approach to living that involves imaginative fluency rather than conventional solidity. I am referring to being able to hear with new ears, see with fresh eyes, and becoming able to speak with imaginative directness, telling it like it feels and is right now”.
I sense that this imaginative fluency is quite different to the short bites of a political campaign. I was also fascinated by Miller’s approach to poetics. He stressed “the importance of a poetic approach in psychology and psychotherapy, and the need to explore and understand the nature of psychology through an imaginative freedom of language”. He emphasised too that “a poetic awareness and attentiveness is fundamental to any pursuit of understanding of ourselves or others” (link).
This relationship between experience and story-sharing has been an important guide for me in my practice and my thinking about practice in teaching and coaching. Today’s alert to poetry and prose has set me off on another journey.
In 2018, StatsBomb announced the release of free data on women’s football (link). The announcement included this observation:
Not only do we believe that analysis of the Women’s game deserves equal attention as the Men’s game, we know that by doing this better, we will improve the overall understanding of the game. We also want to encourage more Women to enter into Analytics, Technology and R&D …
The announcement included a reference to the StatsBomb Resource Centre (link). In 2019, StatsBomb provided open data from the Women’s World Cup (link) and indicated the importance of the use of R in deciphering these data (link).
We’d like this to be as approachable as possible for as many people as possible. We want you to feel comfortable jumping in and having a play around. With that in mind, we’ve put together a little primer for working with our data in the R programming language.
StatsBomb has created the StatsBombR package (link) and is shared as a repository on GitHub. The package requires a User Agreement (link) that notes “StatsBomb have made this data freely available and accessible to encourage and facilitate research and the shared analytical understanding of the game of Football. This is aimed to be a research tool, and is intended to be used as such”.
Information about the StatsBombR package can be found on GitHub (link). An example of the use of these data can be found in the FCrSTATS Github repository (link) including some getting started guidelines (link). Ryo Nakagawara has been using ggplots with some of these data (link) and shared them with #TidyTuesday visualisations (link).
Simone Halep has defeated Serena Williams in the Ladies’ Singles Final at Wimbledon 2019, 6v2, 6v2 (link).
What struck me forcefully about this game was the precision of Simona’s play. One set of data suggests that she made just three unforced errors in the whole game.
Her 56-minute performance demonstrated how athletes can transform performance and combine the physical, psychological (link), technical and tactical (link) in an integrated way that takes performance to a new level.
Such performances redefine what it is to compete and encourage observers to consider the game as a world best (link).