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I love coaching children…it is a real privilege. I honestly believe that it is one of the most fun things that you can do.
Yes it’s a challenge and yes it has it’s ups and downs but if you want to do something that gives you a genuine sense of contribution and personal well being I challenge you to find something better than coaching a group of children.
I don’t want the players to follow or obey…I want to help them become more aware… I want to draw their attention to things that they might not be aware of and make them more aware of the problem they need to solve. I want them to explore how they can solve the problem through play and exploration.
Instead of thinking “I can’t do this…” they think…”I can’t do this YET!”. They aren’t deterred by the failure, they don’t shy away from it…they embrace it and use it as a means to get better.
If we correct them and offer solutions too quickly then they just take the easy way out and follow orders…they can opt out from engaging in the learning process.
In a recent article for Scientific American, Dr Kaufman reviews Anders Ericsson’s latest book. But Dr Kaufman feels that deliberate practice is best suited to specific activities that are limited in variability and require repeatable actions instead of creative ones.
Dr Kaufman makes a reference to a passage in Ericsson’s book which he thinks is key.
“…the techniques of deliberate practice are most applicable to “highly developed fields” such as chess, sports, and musical performance in which the rules of the domain are well established and passed on from generation to generation.”
The problem is I still see a lot of coaches who are using techniques and approaches that are clearly designed to generate automaticity and replicability. The very concept of a ‘drill’ that involves repeating a movement pattern again and again can only be used to create players that will behave in predictable ways.
I imagine that coaches feel that they can then establish a tactical game plan for these players who will execute effectively and with a good degree of consistency.
The irony is that these same coaches will go crazy when players do something that isn’t in the game plan but they are then surprised when the players fail to react to something that the opponent does that is unpredictable.
I wonder how many coaches are out there using methods that are killing creativity without realising?
How long will it be before we wake up to this and change the way we do things?
I used to use my voice as a major tool in my coaching toolbox. I would provide a lot of feedback to players in an effort to create a high energy, motivational climate. I would fill the airwaves with positively descriptive words and phrases like “good”, “excellent”, “I like it!”, “good thinking!”, “good effort” Sometimes I would go further and start throwing in the odd instruction like ‘”watch the back post”, “use the space” or sometimes…”give it” or “carry to space”.
Then somebody gave me some feedback about my coaching and questioned my use of voice and my constant communication. I was made aware that I was probably just filling the session with an incessant barrage of noise which the players would just tune out.
… it meant that my delivery was less effective and there was no space for the players to learn through exploration
I went into a bit of a meltdown….. went through all of the classic stages of the Kubler-Ross change curve. The initial shock left me reeling…
At first I rejected it and looked for examples of why it was wrong…’there are other top coaches who give a lot of feedback…why is it OK for them and not for me?
I got frustrated when in my sessions and felt that I was way less effective as a coach…’why wasn’t my natural style good enough?’
A wide range of topics are covered by Stuart Armstrong as he walks to work through London avoiding pedestrians and traffic. Don’t worry he survives and gets to work. Each podcast is about 20-30 minutes long. Why not go for a walk with Stuart and he what he has to say. Stay safe and like Stuart avoid the potholes!
Stuart takes an alternative look at what Talent Development means to him and posses some very interesting often argumentative viewpoints. He is not shy at stating what we should be thinking but also offers positive viewpoints.
While he walks he covers these subjects
.. Is competition is corrosive and toxic to the process of talent development.
.. The dangers of making comparisons between youngsters in your develpment group
.. Should we jump to correct mistakes and remove a learning opportunity created by errors
.. Is development too comfortable in these select Talent groups
.. How honest are we with developing athletes, do you avoid hurting their feelings