The Cybernetics of Neuro-Linguistic Programming

Curtis Brackenbury
16 July 2018

In elite sport recognition skills, pattern recall and decision-making are critical success skills that impact the outcome of a game. How good the decisions are, is determined not only by the quality of information available and the quality experience athletes draw or on the athlete’s self interest, memory and outside stimulus but the relationship between the coach and the athlete.

The hockey coach / athlete relationship can be visualized as a cybernetic loop in which meaning is constructed through reciprocal feedback. The first feedback loop enables a coach/athlete or team to learn a pattern of behavior that is appropriate for a particular environment.  This is an observation action cycle in which observations of what is going on plus what has gone in similar situations informs decision making. The second feedback loop enables the coach/athlete or team to take a break in the action. It occurs because they recognized that the environment has changed and that in order for them to survive/win a new pattern of behavior is required immediately. They then revert back to the first loop.  

The cybernetic loop is also used by coaches to not only create an environment that is conducive to learning but be flexible enough to see the athletes for who they are rather than being emotionally driven by what they expect them to be. This developmental coach athlete relationship provides a scaffolding of connection and nurturance while pushing the envelope to support further exploration. The athletes learns with the attuned coaches support that they can tolerate what initially appeared to be intolerable thus widen their window of tolerance. This adaptation leads to a positive change in their behavior traits and an opportunity to reach their goals.