Lesley Sim on Skill Acceleration in Ultimate - Commoncog

Cedric Chin talks to Lesley Sim about her experience coaching the Singaporean Ultimate Women's World Championship Team in 2020, her approach to skill acceleration, and why a teaching technique designed for dogs and dolphins works just as well on humans!

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://commoncog.com/lesley-sim-skill-acceleration-ultimate/

I have a couple of clips from the podcast up on Twitter here:


Basically, I’m most entertained by Lesley’s use of clicker training — originally intended for dogs and dolphins — annd adapted to humans on her Ultimate team.

I … now wonder if this might’ve helped me with my will issues in Judo! :wink:

I loved this podcast. The clicker training was great, but especially the explanation that it isn’t helpful to tell people what not to do, so you have to have a clear “tag” that is a positive behavior you can click. Managers often say “Not that!” but never make it clear what “good” looks like so people get frustrated.

I also loved the discussion about constraints. Rather than try to control everything, set up an environment that rewards the behaviors you want, and you’ll get that behavior. This is what people try to do with incentives and bonuses, but it rarely works as people learn to game the metric to get the incentive without doing the right thing for the company. So it does depend on some degree of alignment between the coach/manager and the team.

Great stuff - really insightful!


Thanks Eric! So nice to read that you enjoyed the podcast!:heart_eyes_cat:

I’m a huge believer of constraints. I didn’t touch on this, but they HAVE to be paired with company culture and structure/processes. Especially the more abstract the environment. Work is a much more abstract an environment than sports, so culture/structure becomes even more important.

I think you kind of say the same thing when you talk about alignment.

With sports teams, I spend so much time being explicit and implicit about the kind of culture I’m creating. And it prevents sooo much problems later on when tempers are hot, competitive drives are on top gear, and the game is on the line.


Yes, that’s what I meant by alignment. In sports, it’s easier to define success by winning. In business, success can be defined by many things, and it’s important to focus on variables you can control. Revenue is an output metric, so what are the ways in which this organization intends to run their business, and how do leaders create tag points that align the team in that way?

I loved how explicit you were about values and culture and wish more leaders were similarly attentive.