A person’s name is a tangible part of their identity, the amalgamation of traits and characteristics that distinguishes them among the unwashed masses. Admittedly, names are shared, first most commonly, and on some occasion last names as well. Some names carry more weight, literally and figuratively, than others, but in every sense they are significant, and that significance attaches to learning and remembering the names of others.
I have used this as a coach in two ways. In a setting where I am essentially scouting or evaluating players, I frequently convey my interest in a player, by asking their name, and remembering it. This is an act of inclusion on my part. I have seen you perform, and I need to know your name. It is important to me, and I will remember it. I do this in front of others. It demonstrates my interest, and signals to those who I have not learned the names of what I am looking for and how I will express my interest. The other way, is when the group I will coach is defined. I make a conscious effort to learn and remember each player’s name quickly. It makes us personal, a relationship.
With this in mind, I was genuinely surprised and put off during a recent training session I observed with a selected group of players. The players had been scouted, and selected through a process several months at work. The session I attended was the third over two days, and the coach was hard-pressed to call any of his players by name…..”Big guy”, “little guy”, and “my left back”. He even asked several players their names, but did not commit the mental energy to remember them even just a few minutes later.
I suppose, giving the coach the benefit of the doubt, it could have been a practiced affect drawn from military boot camp, but I would be remiss in not noting that a similar reduction of names to impersonal numbers is fancied in prisons and prison camps.
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