Focusing attention can increase the effectiveness of your coaching
It could also be ‘harmful’ 🙁
Do you deliberately try to focus a player’s attention when coaching?
Where to focus attention
Maybe you have never thought about being deliberate in your coaching actions.
Even if you don’t realise it, you will always be directing a player’s attention towards something.
Your specific instructions, the aim/goal of the practice, and even your casual comments can all draw a person’s attention to something. It’s very difficult not to!
The way your coach (deliberate methods or not) can also aim to move attention away from something.
I recommend that act deliberately in your actions, although (importantly) the performer doesn’t have to know this. Become an expert at understanding where, when and why you would consider where attention was being focused by the player.
The interactions with your performers are always happening, I’m just asking that you consider how you use them, as there are huge benefits to be had.
Consider Where, When, Why & How to draw attention
It will increase the effectiveness of your coaching
Watching a friend coach
It’s always great to observe some coaching (working), especially if you know them and can have a discussion afterwards. I recommend that instead of looking at the practices they set, concentrate on what they say, the words and phrases they used, and when they speak or don’t speak.
Listen actively (it may be harder than you think) with the intention of considering the effect of their words. What do you hear?
How much of their communication is directing a player’s attention towards something, and what is that ‘something’? Could you categorise the different themes – I’ve suggested 6 below.
What phrases and actions do you use to move attention towards one place or another?
The discussion afterwards
I asked them if they deliberately set out to draw attention to different aspects during the lesson. We chatted for 15 mins that somehow became 45 mins, coffee was needed!
They could remember the themes of the practice but struggled a little when I asked what precisely they were trying to draw the players’ attention to, or if they tried to move it away from something. It helped when they asked me, “what did you hear, and what was I doing?”
I’d written down many of the instructions, words of encouragement and small phrases they used. The coach recognised many of them, but not all. They explained the purposes behind what they’d done and the effect (positive or native) each had in terms of helping the player.
Eventually, we created a short list of all the different aspects we could encourage our players to place (focus) their attention on.
Initially, we didn’t judge the effectiveness of our choices, we just tried to list the things we did.
We decided that coaches could deliberately draw attention to ..
- A player’s body part – placing it in a specific starting or ending position
- An internal feeling – asking them to think about a body action or feeling, “create a feeling of ….. “, “try to move as if you …..“
- A thought created by a coaching cue – imagine that “…… “, or asking them to create a scenario “pretend that you ……“
- A previous similar technique – something that transfers or assists in the new learning, “remember when you learnt this….” or “this is very similar to .. xxx .. that we know you do well“
- The outcome of a stroke – How the shuttle would travel through the air, where could it land in the opponent’s court. “imagine the shuttle ..(describe the path outcome)”
- The effectiveness of the action on the opponent – what would the opponent see/feel, how may they now act, how we can gain an advantage. “play the stroke so that .. xxx … happens to the opponent“
The questions we didn’t have time to consider (or the expertise) were …
Which of the points on our list would increase the effectiveness of our coaching (and the player’s development)?
Would any of the points be ‘harmful’ or less effective for player development?
What were the occasions when focusing attention would and wouldn’t be as effective?
I need your help
Can you help me and my friends in answering these questions or pointing us in a useful direction, we’d like to hear from you
Want to help ?
I’m in the process of writing a longer post that examines the advantages and disadvantages of each of the 6 points above. The aim is to give lots of badminton coaching examples.
Plus, outline some of the dangers of focusing attention at certain times and on less effective places.
What would you include or what questions would you like answered? I need your help!
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As always, I’m very grateful if you have read this far 🙂
Have these ideas given you some thoughts about where to focus attention during your coaching?
Why not send me an email email@example.com