On this blog I will be writing my thoughts and experiences regarding Teaching and Coaching. I learned most of this from mentors I’ve had in field of coaching and teaching, though coaching applies to any arena, of course. Learning and Coaching and Self Coaching and Coachability are all related.
The structure of what you will be teaching or coaching will change, from offense to defense, individual skills to team skills. But it is in the HOW you teach and coach where I hope I may be of assistance.
Teaching vs. Coaching
By “Teaching,” I mean the environment where information flows from the Coach (or Teacher) to the students with little, if any, feedback back to the Coach. This is based on information and demonstrations, and then the students are supposed to go and do (learn) what’s been said or taught.
“Coaching” is teaching with feedback, where the Coach values the experiences that students are having during the learning. This is much more powerful than just “teaching,” as it engages the students, and ultimately makes them responsible for their own learning.
This Coaching stuff takes more time, so sometimes there just isn’t time for feedback. In those situations, you do the best you can in how you say things and then have to leave it up to the students to make it work. It is helpful, I’m sure, to talk about this whole process with students and how, when there isn’t time, you invite them to be their own coaches. By that you mean that they have to observe and report (to themselves, or to a teammate) what’s happening and then hang out with the process of learning.
What I suggest doesn’t work in a coaching situation:
- Praise to make them (or you) feel good
- “That’s okay!”
- ”You almost got it that time!”
- ”Now you’re getting it!”
- ”Don’t worry about that!”
- ”You’re doing great!” Praise makes everyone feel better, but it can actually interfere with the learning process. Too easily it becomes Cheerleading, rather than helpful coaching.
- Telling them what to do “Do this!
- ”Do that!
- ”Don’t do that!
- ”You did that too much!
- ”Relax the wrist! “Shoot higher! Telling a student what they did robs them of the experience of self discovery. We learn best what we discover, what we dig out, rather from things people give us.
What I suggest does work:
- Awareness … always, awareness
- Observation of oneself with curiosity, openness (what could be called Exploration or Discovery)
- No judgment of good or bad — just observation of what happened
- What’s called “Positive feedback, positive coaching This is where you point out what’s working, what can work. By this latter one, I don’t mean “Positive thinking” … “I can do this, I will do this, etc.” Positive thinking is too much thinking. I mean looking for and highlighting things that are working, even a little. Our fragile egos need strokes like that, to know that we’re close to success or at least on a path that is leading somewhere. Though it can be helpful to point out the failures, and we need that some times, it is very powerful to point out the learning that is happening, the little successes that our students are getting.
Kids (and all of us) learn by our experience, not by the (sometimes) wonderful words of the teacher or coach. In a physical arena, Experience is the Only Teacher! Another way to say it: Awareness is developmental! In fact, as a coach friend of mine said, “Awareness is the only thing that is developmental!”
- Demonstrations can help, if they increase the understanding of possibilities.
- Words and word descriptions can have the same effect, if they help lead the student to an experience, to awareness. But it’s still the experience that does the teaching, not the teacher or coach.
- Video taping can be a big help … if it increases awareness! However, if it’s viewed such to make you “wrong,” then it won’t help and can even hurt.
I remember seeing a video of me in college at football practice doing one on ones WR’s VS DB’s. I had never seen myself on tape in practice. It was enlightening! I could see that I didn’t look anything like the Wide receiver player I thought I was. I looked like a slow stiff, average player. It wasn’t the graceful football body motion and quickness I thought I exhibited. It was athletic and strong, but it wasn’t how top WR’s look!
After seeing it, I observed myself through awareness much differently. It opened my eyes to the areas I needed to look at to become more graceful and football-full. So it served only that purpose. If I had made myself wrong by how I looked, I might have then tried “hard” to fix it, tried hard to look better, and maybe even given up the game. Instead, I used it to see and know where to focus my attention.
Video your drills, games, and even weight room workouts can benefit your athletes to see their own flaws and how to fix them
“We should not have to push you to work hard, you should work hard because you want to be a great player.” Bobby Knight