When did you realise that your players learned in different ways?
When did you finally find the ‘best way’ or are you like me and still searching?
I took me several years before I realised that using exactly the same method to coach did not work with all my players
Especially when doing individual 1-2-1 coaching.
I gave them all the same “instructions” and advice.
I used repetition over and over to ensure that they hit enough shuttles in the same routine 🙁
It should have worked, it didn’t, and I didn’t understand why
I waited for the longterm improvements to appear.
It didn’t always happen 🙁
I sat down and thought about the methods I used
… it was a shortlist and made me feel uncomfortable as most were just delivery without ‘thought’
- I did practices that I liked as a player and that worked for me
- I did practices my old coach did with me
- I used the practices I was taught on my coach education courses
- I reproduced practices that I’d seen the ‘top’ coaches used
- I copied practices from social media or the last conference I went to
Ok, to be honest, some practices did work and some players did develop
However there were players who became frustrated, and others struggled
When this happened I did a number of things, some of which I’m now embarrassed about
either I …
- changed (well stopped) the practice as soon as I could so no one could tell it wasn’t working 🙁
- gave a new piece of advice, searching for that ‘magic instruction’ 🙁
- increased the repetitions, surely more of anything would be better! 🙁
- walked away from the court leaving them to practice, whilst I felt confused 🙁
Oh yes, I also blamed the player if they didn’t develop!
I needed a plan
Eventually, I started to experiment and watch how other coaches went about their work. That meant I had to travel, make friends and open my eyes (my mind). I asked questions, I took notes and I listened.
It was an exciting and confusing time.
They used all sorts of techniques. The more I watched and examined their methods the more I started to see.
There was so much to see. The more I looked, the more I could see subtle variations, a different way of delivering improvements to the players.
The critical point was that those successful coaches designed their practices at the specific skill level of the player and understood just what to suggest, add or encourage
There seemed to be a layering to their delivery based on what the player could already do and what they needed to do next
How did they do it ?
Understanding how they went about their work was still confusing to me
I’d been taught the components of Technique and Tactics on my Coach Education courses but not how to evaluate the different way of delivering information and certainly not how to analyse other coaches.
It became clear that whilst I had been working on building up all my Technical knowledge, I had done very little to develop my teaching/coaching skills
I was coaching every player the same way, I was just delivering, not coaching
Whilst working with my mentor the truth of his success became apparent
It wasn’t just what he knew that was important, it was how he developed it. He just went about his work and things happened.
It took me years to see and understand his subtle use of a variety of coaching/teaching methods.
Only when I asked him to explain how he designed his practices did I really start to learn
It shocked me how many different coaching methods he used or could use to teach the same technique/tactic/skill
Oh, I did make a BIG mistake of asking to see his lesson plan … 🙂
I realised the coaching wasn’t knowing everything about techniques
The skill was in selecting the methods to be used
I’m still working on that skill! 🙂
My advice to you
- Don’t expect every player to respond to your practices
- Have at least 3 different ways to teach every Technique/Tactic/Skill/Concept
- If it worked for you, there is NO guarantee that it will work for them
- Find a mentor, watch them, ask them, challenge them
- Just doing more, faster and harder is not the preferred solution
- Try to develop players, not just people who train hard and chase shuttles
- Develop your ability to Review your Coaching and its effectiveness.