16:52 18 February 2014 by GS Jade Barrett, CsbNews correspondent
“I am always doing that which I cannot do, in order that I may learn how to do it” – Pablo Picasso
The one size fits all approach to bridge education frequently weeds out those who would make the best and most loyal players. In my nearly thirty years as a bridge professional and club owner, I have witnessed many novices take classes and attend lectures, and then never see them again.
I am convinced that one of the reasons that these would-be participants fail to return is that we as educators leave them with the impression that they must acquire an advanced degree in the game in order to participate – and that many of my peers mistakenly believe that, as well. Creating this notion in the novitiate actually prevents my fellow bridge teachers from obtaining their goal of recruiting new athletes to the game at large and repeat business for themselves personally. What we need to do is to help our new charges recognize that the base language of the game is simple, and the complexities lie in the application of the same.
Under the guidance of Dr. Donna Wood, Director of Operations for the Esplanade Bridge Center
in Solana Beach, California, we have redirected our focus, utilizing a new format and curriculum consistent with these goals. We provide a one day, five hour introduction to the game that prepares these first time participants for our supervised play sessions. These two hour sessions start with a short lecture followed by a small game in which these budding players may interact with an instructor with the understanding that they will be provided the right questions to ask of themselves, but no direct answers. This procedure allows for the individual to develop, establishing the foundation upon which their bridge game will be built, as opposed to giving them a set of rules that undermine their ability to grow.
During the past two years of this experiment, this Great American Bridge Tour
Training Facility has tripled the attendance of its classes, seminars and lectures, as well as dramatically increased the number of private lessons, partnership training and team coaching sessions provided by our staff. As a whole, the bridge student athletes who avail themselves of the educational opportunities that exist have had a greater sense of reward for their competitive efforts, while reducing their anxiety of playing at levels that they once believed unobtainable.
For our own part, we have assisted many players to enter the larger tournament environment by adhering to this core belief:
We wish to create self-reliant competitors, not automatons.