Just In Time For Spring: Using the GROW Model to help us reflect

It’s remarkable how much is changing every day, moment to moment, when we choose to slow down and notice. It’s easy to lose track of firsts when we’re always concerned with what comes next. The next assignment, the next vacation, we’re already somewhere else before we give ourselves an opportunity to just be here. And that makes complete sense! Subtle thoughts and emotions can carry us away to warmer places and easier days like the quiet stream in spring collecting rainfall. It’s human nature, a comfort we’ve always known. This isn’t a post that’s going to tell you to stop and smell the roses (even though that wouldn’t be the worst thing). This is a post about reflection in a world that continues to change. The GROW Model (Whitmore, 2009) is a tool traditionally used by coaches looking to support and connect with their athletes. My hope is that you use the model in a way that best serves you. Maybe use the framework to outline a journal entry or a FaceTime with a friend. There’s something special about noticing what comes first and the GROW Model helps us do just that.

Time For Growth

The model has been recreated below alongside questions that help frame the reflection. These questions can be adapted but should still hold the same intention. How might they work for you?

Goal Questions: What would you like to achieve? What is it that you want?

Option Questions: What strategies appeal to you? What could you do?

Will Questions: Which of these things we have discussed will you try?

Reality Questions: What have you tried so far? Where are you now?

For our athletes, we as coaches and practitioners can use the GROW Model during pre- or post-season meetings and provide an opportunity for reflection. For example, we can understand why our athletes might be concerned about their performance or their role in an upcoming season. These are areas we can address by asking, Goal Questions. What would you like to achieve? In most cases, our athletes have a clear idea of what their goals are and what they want from sport or exercise. We can identify areas of intervention when we start asking, Option Questions. What strategies appeal to you? This is where we can find ways to garner buy-in and establish a means to collaborative practices. As the coach or practitioner, we can use our experience to help shape methods of achieving the goals our athletes set for themselves. These strategies are often identified using Will Questions. Which of these things we have discussed will you try? We know athletes feel motivated when they have the autonomy to decide for themselves. This is where we can be creative! We know when working with athletes there is never a one-size-fits-all approach. Considering the options available encourages us to weigh multiple perspectives. Finally, asking Reality Questions, like “where are you now?”, is how we put a plan to action. We can empathize with the athlete struggling with injury or who might have concerns about playing time. Their goals might be more specific and their options might seem bleak. There are so many reasons and ways we can lose ourselves in these ideas of the future. Yet, grounding ourselves in reality, the here and now, is the only place we can make any kind of difference. This is where the work is done. This is what sets athletes apart.

We can’t afford to get lost in goals or potential options. Ultimately, this is one way that leads us to paralysis by analysis. A common sport psych mantra that describes the athlete who is left frozen or challenged by their thinking. We might encounter this in our own lives as well.

Where in your own life have you felt immobilized by thoughts of the future? By all the things that need to get done and how to make time for the things we want? This spring, I invite you to think differently and let these thoughts go. Instead, choose to ask yourself one question.

What will you do today?

All pictures are my own – check out more here


Whitmore, J. (2009). Coaching for performance, GROWing human potential and purpose, the principles and practise of coaching and leadership, 4th edn. London: Nicholas Brealey Publishing

Published by Jacob Ames

Feline father, perpetual graduate student, sport enthusiast, pancake expert, and gratitude writer. Using this blog to keep my life organized and to develop a platform I can one day use to share baseless conspiracy theories about the robot uprising. I enjoy writing!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: