In team sports from hockey to football to rubgy to water polo and beyond, each team will have a plan. The more professional the teams are the more likely they will have watched and studied how they other team plays. They will notice common behaviours, theories, and how they work together. And they will have practiced. And practiced. Running drills, set pieces, and so on.
During the actual game there will be moments of recognition. Moments where the other team behaves in a certain way and you can predict what is happening next. But, there will also be surprises. Surprises when you think the other team is going to do one thing, but does something completely different. But more importantly, surprises when your plan doesn’t work because the other team is reacting differently to how you practiced it.
This happens all the time in life, especially in organisational change. Although it’s rare that teams do much practice around change. When things don’t go as you expect, it is easy to become discouraged. It is easy to give up. But change never goes as planned – it involves people. And people have a habit of behaving different to how we expected them to.
Most professional sports teams and athletes have learned this over the years. Therefore we hear them and their coaches talk about the ‘mental’ game. Change requires a certain type of mental toughness too. But rarely is developed or practiced.