In Search of Greatness (2018)

‘In Search of Greatness’ (2018), born from creativity

If we study the Great Ones of sport, we find there are many contributing factors to their success: motivation, competitiveness, mentors, resilience, discipline, talent, and luck. Writer-Director Gabe Polsky gives us examples of all that and adds one more trait, creativity, that extends across music, art, and other disciplines.

Using Wayne Gretzky, Jerry Rice, and Pelé as interview subjects, In Search of Greatness provides much food for thought and inspiration for parents, coaches, and athletes. Thus, America Scores Bay Area presented the film in an interactive environment with Sara Truebridge, the education consultant for the film, and d’Alary Dalton, a long-time California coach and educator. You can currently also watch the film on Amazon.

Don’t pigeonhole talent

In the area of talent, Gretzky and Rice talk about how they played multiple sports as kids and how they were considered too small or too slow. Rather than be defined by these limitations, they compensated by thinking further ahead, to see the game and the play, and identify the openings that would appear.

The film shows how Rocky Marciano won his fights despite arms that were too short. The point is that the current systems of physical metrics that are applied in youth and pro sports are not true measures of talent.

Talent may be buried and only come to fruition under a combination of luck and will. An athlete needs the right mentor for encouragement and development. Some believe in themselves because a parent or coach believes in them. Some have an ability to learn quickly, and some have “a rage to master” and practice incessantly.

Some, as in Michael Jordan’s Hall of Fame speech, drive themselves to prove others wrong — those coaches who sat them on the bench or doubted their ability to become pros.

Pelé’s comments in the film are not as lengthy as Gretzky and Rice, perhaps because his talent was recognized early, playing in the World Cup at age 17. But he discusses the greatest player he ever knew: Garrincha, who excelled despite physical deformities of his knees and foot.

Key coaching themes

In discussion, educator Truebridge pointed out the major themes of the film

  • Greatness is born from creativity, not being the fastest or strongest
  • Players should be encouraged to embrace one’s originality
  • The importance of play versus structured education and practice
  • Resilience is a process not a trait. Help players learn lessons from failure. Remember that FAIL = First Attempt In Learning. If you don’t want to use the word failure, Dalton suggests instead emphasizing iterations. And she cautions that kids who have never failed will have problems dealing with their first failure.

Truebridge also pointed out that resilience comes from 3 protective factors that buffer risk in youth sports:

  • Caring relationships
  • High expectations that come from believing in themselves because of the positive messages they hear growing up. If the coach believes in you, it makes you believe in yourself.
  • Provide opportunities to participate and contribute. This can be off the field, such as service, philanthropy, or the poetry that is part of the AmericaScores program

In conclusion

This review has highly compressed the film’s content and key points from educators, and people would benefit a great deal more by watching. The film demonstrates all the key points, and it is poignant as Gretzky and Rice discuss those types of moments in their lives. The film also covers many other athletes, artists and musicians as examples of various success factors: creativity is chief among them.

The athletes are mostly American, but hopefully their stories and context will be understood by a global audience. It’s a good film, and after listening to Jerry Rice, I thought, maybe I can learn to catch a pointy football!

8 Soccer Movie Mom Rating = 8