My daughter got sucked into Hockey (its really a cult) and you don’t dabble in hockey. Once you get involved in youth hockey, it really is all consuming. I think more sports have gone this way, but my experience is with hockey. What I mean by sucked in, is that you start with say a learn to play, maybe do a house league (single rink kids of same age play against each other) and a year or two later you spend your vacation days traveling to multiple states for tournaments every few weekends abandoning your house. You will spend time on training, 1-1 lessons, group lesson etc. It is an endless money pit.

But all of this is structured training. Each of the classes are supervised by a coach, have specific drills, and goals. As a trained coach from USA Hockey, they gave us drills to work on, even sample practice plans. These are great, in fact by taking the coaching certificate I had a new appreciation of coaches in general. I stopped coaching when my daughter was young as she stopped listening to me, but I continued to go thru the levels of coaching. I actually wish there was a parent class, would help parents really understand what is going on.

This structured class is great, your kids learn to skate with the right stride, learn to do crossovers, get on edges pass and shoot. But this is all book learning, this is all what people have done before. When teachers are watching the students work to show they have learned the skill, follow the lesson. So they become not robots, but definitely not trying something very creative. And strange when we watch a game we see the best players do something insane, mind blowing, and say how the hell did he think of doing that.

For years I was told that Canadian players were better in hockey cause its there national game (No it was not created there, in fact lacrosse is the only sport created in Canada.). But as I got older, what I learned is what great players in Canada did was play a lot of unstructured hockey. They would play “pond” hockey with their friends, without coaching, without parent supervision, without ‘structure.” When you are playing without a coach correcting you, you may be willing to try something that isn’t taught. You may try a move that isn’t in the books. This unstructured play is how you create, it is how you do something different. No one ever wrote a song sitting next to a teacher correcting them.

It is this combination of structured and unstructured learning that brings out the best. But unfortunately we focus on structure. We focus on the Gladwell 10,000 hours. The more we do something, the more training, the better we will be at it. We need to practice the precise movements over and over again. But to me that only gets you good and what you practice. We forget that the best stuff comes from experimenting. That nothing new has been discovered by doing the same thing over again. And often that will not happen if someone is correcting you (coach.)

When I hire people for technology, I like resumes that have a git hub link of stuff they did on their own. Just this week I was reading a resume and someone wrote his own chess program with an AI. I immediately want to talk. to that person. They are doing “unstructured” programming – for themselves. No manager telling them what do do, what libraries to use, they get to experiment. We spend too much time working on structure, we need people to become creative.

This opinion is mine, and mine only, my current or former employers have nothing to do with it. I do not write for any financial gain, I do not take advertising and any product company listed was not done for payment. But if you do like what I write you can donate to the charity I support (with my wife who passed away in 2017) Morgan Stanley’s Children’s Hospital or donate to your favorite charity. I pay to host my site out of my own pocket, my intention is to keep it free.  I do read all feedback, I mostly wont post any of them

This Blog is a labor of love, and was originally going to be a book.  With the advent of being able to publish yourself on the web I chose this path.  I will write many of these and not worry too much about grammar or spelling (I will try to come back later and fix it) but focus on content.  I apologize in advance for my ADD as often topics may flip.  I hope one day to turn this into a book and or a podcast, but for now it will remain a blog.