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March 28, 2007

Soccer season has begun again

R: Soccer season has begun again. It actually began a couple of weeks ago, with evening practices. My older son has decided to play again. He was enticed to join a team with several of his friends. He had stopped playing for a couple of years. Now he's excited again, and I think he will have fun.

I continue my commitment to assistant-coaching my younger son's team. I learn so much from trying to teach them the multiple layers of team-play, individual skill, and imaginative dynamic creativity.

My friend and colleague Bill Depper has told me he continues to play soccer and hockey for the flow experience. He means it in two senses. Both in the sense of pursuing a state of optimal performance, as Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi proposes; and, in the sense of an organic and dynamically emergent gameplay experience shared among a group of players. One could argue, I realize as I write this, that both senses are manifestations of the same experience. I haven't heard many talk about the former sense as a shared experience. Instead I've only heard it spoken of as a deeply subjective experience. Perhaps the shared manifestation can be described by the same sense of collective flow.

I posed to Bill - who also has coached for his children's soccer teams - the question of how to teach the latter dynamic flow. Soccer has developed a set of vocabulary terms that are necessary, but that I find insufficient to the task of developing this collective sense of spatial and temporal awareness. "Move to the open space", "follow your pass", "square pass", "wall pass", "through pass", are all descriptors that - combined with appropriate actions - should help build this embodied knowledge. Children who play in the streets of latin america figure it out (perhaps I idealize here). The knowledge I seek here is an aesthetic one. The brazilians have called it "Joga bonito", or beautiful play. How can I share with kids the idea of beautiful play.

Beautiful play is filled with joy as well as with skill. It is both individual and collaborative, even as it is performed in an environment of competition.

Posted by SWEAT at March 28, 2007 09:25 PM