When did you realise that your players learned in different ways?
Have you found that as they developed the methods you use need to change?
Do you agree that it is how you coach that is more important than what you coach?
It took me several years before I realised that using exactly the same method did not work with all my players
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, but it didn’t always (well sometimes it did), and I didn’t understand why
I waited for the longterm improvements to appear
They 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 methods 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 in 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, some practices did work and some players did develop
However some players became frustrated, and others struggled
When things didn’t work I did this
I’m embarrassed to say that 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, so I watched other coaches
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 (and my mind).
Finding people willing to let me watch was hard and getting them to talk about their practices was even harder!
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, but didn’t always understand.
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.
Successful coaches designed their practices at the specific skill level of the player
& they 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 in my Coach Education courses but not how to evaluate the different ways 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, and how he designed the practice.
Initially, it just seemed as if he went about his work and things happened. I soon realised that there was far more to it than I could see.
It took me years to see and understand his subtle use of a variety of coaching/teaching methods.
Only when I asked my mentor 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 :). It was just a series of 3 or 4 bullet points in his book.
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 (people), not just players who chase shuttles and like static hitting
- Develop your ability to Review your Coaching and its effectiveness.