Why start with Why?? By Jack Pattinson

Delighted to share another blog from my colleague Jack Pattinson…… its been brilliant to watch Jacks development and ‘transformation’ over the last season. He is constantly challenging himself and his beliefs. I hope you enjoy reading this as much as I did


It is a question I have been asking myself a lot lately. Inspired by Simon Sinek’s book – Start with Why – and his incredibly popular TEDTalk, he explores the importance of people/ organisations ensuring they start with ‘why’…

For those that haven’t read the book or seen his video, he explains that the ‘What’ is how every person/ organisation know what they do (providing a service or a product) and that every person/ organisation knows how they do this (the things that make them special or set them apart from their competition) but what he highlights is how very few people/ organisations know why they do what they do.

Interestingly, the majority of people/ organisations respond in saying that their purpose “is to make money” but Sinek deplores this by stating that making money is a result. You have to find a purpose, a cause and/ or a belief that gives meaning to the very reason you do what you do.

Having reflected on this for a number of weeks, I began thinking of how I could bring this into my coaching. I soon realised that as coaches, we are very good at asking (and at times telling) players what to do in certain situations and how we perform certain actions, but we very rarely ask our players why it is relevant and important.

To give an example, I was recently coaching a defence focussed session and we were exploring the principle of pressure. I was asking the players what we could do to exert pressure on our opposition, to which they responded “Linespeed”. I then asked how we do this – “We push up as a line quickly to reduce the time our opposition have on the ball”. And it was at this point I decided to ask the players why, so I responded: “Okay great, I like that idea. Tell me why this is important to the way we want to defend?”… After a momentary pause, one of the players responded: “Because if we exert pressure on our opposition, we reduce their time on the ball, which in turn reduces the time they have to make an effective decision and therefore, it means they are more likely to make a mistake and concede possession”… (It may not have been as fluid as that but you get the gist!

This experience encouraged me to use why in a lot more of my questions. If our players can understand why we want to play in a certain way, why we execute it in a certain manner and why it is relevant/ important, then they are more likely to buy-in to the idea and thought-process. And subsequently (with a bit of luck), will mean that the players begin to take real ownership of their learning because they understand the purpose, as opposed to just the what and the how!

Having used this method in my past few sessions, I have noticed the players have started to be more creative and free-thinking in their approach to game-specific situations. This may come down to a number of factors but I am confident that because we have been exploring the why as a team, we are all beginning to understand our purpose. Not just as individuals. But as a team.


Here is a link to the TedTalk mentioned at the beginning of this blog



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