How to get into the coaching mindset
Think about the following in relation to the team(s) that you coach; you might find that the answers differ for different teams:
- Why do people play sport?
- What does it mean to be a coach?
- What jobs might a “coach” do?
- What should be taken into consideration when planning a session?
Make sure that you keep this contextual information in mind when you’re planning sessions; are your plans appropriate for the team and players you’re coaching? If you create a positive learning environment then you’ll see better results. Be aware of mistakes made, and use that knowledge to create methods for improving in specific areas.
People have different learning styles and often benefit from a mixture of:
- Telling / auditory; i.e. describe what you want them to do
- Showing / visual; i.e. show them using diagrams or getting people to run through the patterns on the field
- Doing / kinaesthetic; i.e. doing it for themselves
Delivery of information is important too; consider the following:
- Use clear and concise wording, examples and no more than three key points per topic
- Use a whiteboard and magnets (magnets prevent too much pen on the board which can be confusing)
- Enlist the help of experienced players to run demos
How do we apply this knowledge? An example might be to explain a new exercise verbally while drawing player movements on a whiteboard. Then, get some players to jog through the pattern at 50% speed so everyone can see what it should look like; this helps people to visualise the end result. Once they’ve had a few opportunities to run through at half speed, they can increase the pace and intensity.
How do people learn?
- Cognitive (Thinking): Planning; thinking about a movement and building a mental model.
- Associative (Practicing): Practicing stage; concentrating on recognising the skill / technique and reflecting upon errors.
- Autonomous: Consolidation stage; skill is performed without conscious thought. It is difficult to correct once at this step, which is why correcting throwing technique is more difficult when people have been playing for a long time.
How do you coach?
- Coaching Cycle: Plan, Do, Review
- Language / body language used; how will this impact on players?
- Explain clearly by sticking to 3 points to focus on.
- Open questions encourage people to explore.
- Feedback; what went well, and how could it be even better?
Keep things positive. This doesn’t mean that feedback cannot be critical, rather that any criticism is viewed as a positive action on a path to becoming a better player.
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