Discussion Paper on Whitmore’s GROW Model

March 6, 2022

Discussion Paper on Whitmore’s GROW Model

Discussion Paper on Whitmore’s GROW Model

Discussion Paper on Whitmore’s GROW Model

Discuss each step of the Whitmore’s GROW model. Explain how the GROW model helps the coach to better understand the coachee and allows the coach to use those insights to better assist the individual.

In a 2009 article,[3] John Whitmore claimed that Max Landsberg coined the name GROW during a conversation with Graham Alexander and that Whitmore was the first to publish it in the 1992 first edition of his book Coaching for Performance.[4] Landsberg also published it a few years later in the 1996 first edition of his book The Tao of Coaching.[5] Elsewhere Whitmore said that the model had been in use for some time before it was given the name GROW.[6] Alan Fine’s 2010 book You Already Know How to Be Great claimed that Fine had codeveloped the model with Whitmore and Alexander.[7] Other (later) similar models include collaborative helping maps in family therapy[8] and Gabriele Oettingen’s WOOP model.[9]

The GROW principle and the Inner Game
GROW was influenced by the Inner Game method developed by Timothy Gallwey.[10] Gallwey was a tennis coach who noticed that he could often see what players were doing incorrectly but that simply telling them what they should be doing did not bring about lasting change.

The parallel between Gallwey’s Inner Game method and the GROW method can be illustrated by the example of players who do not keep their eyes on the ball. Some coaches might give instructions such as: “Keep your eye on the ball” to try to correct this. The problem with this sort of instruction is that a player will be able to follow it for a short while but may be unable to keep it in mind in the long term. So one day, instead of giving an instruction, Gallwey asked players to say “bounce” out loud when the ball bounced and “hit” out loud when they hit the ball.

The result was that the players started to improve without a lot of effort because they were keeping their eyes on the ball. But because

Discussion Paper on Whitmore's GROW Model

Discussion Paper on Whitmore’s GROW Model

of the way the instruction was given they did not have a voice in their heads saying “I must keep my eye on the ball.” Instead they were playing a simple game while they were playing tennis. Once Gallwey saw how play could be improved in this way, he stopped giving instructions and started asking questions that would help players discover for themselves what worked and what needed to change.

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The GROW method is similar. For example, the first stage in the learning process would be to set a target which a player wants to achieve. If a player wanted to improve their first serve Gallwey would ask how many first serves out of ten they would like to get in. This is the Goal. The Reality would be defined by asking the player to serve 10 balls and seeing how many first serves went in.

Gallwey would then ask awareness-raising questions such as “What do you notice you are doing differently when the ball goes in or out?” This question would enable players to discover for themselves what was changing about their mind and body when the serve went in or out. They had then defined their Obstacles and Options. They therefore learned for themselves what had to change in order to meet their serving targets and they had a clear Way Forward.

The originators of both the Inner Game method and the GROW method suggested that many individuals were struggling to achieve goals because they were not learning from experience and were not aware of the available knowledge that would help them.

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