Evolving as a Coach

This article was written by Coach Mike Dunlap. I hope that you can find a couple of nuggets to give some thought to that will help you improve as a coach.

The richness of coaching rests within the seemingly insurmountable frustration of watching as a player finds his or her way. The teachable moments are those that are frequently fraught with poor decisions. Yet that is exactly when an individual needs their coach. Those moments are priceless and a turning point for the athlete. Wonder not why you do what you do and KNOW that you make a difference!!!

10 Steps to Improve Your Coaching

The evolution of a master teacher takes years of skill development. The outstanding coach is an exceptional teacher. We believe that there are fundamental steps that should be considered when teaching your team:

1) Know the five laws of learning
• Explain what you want
• Demonstrate for the learner
• Player demonstrates
• Correct demonstration
• Repetition is lord and master

2) Know how players learn
• Visual
• Auditory
• Kinetic
• Writing/Drawing
• Player as coach
• Cooperative versus competitive technique
• Whole, part, whole versus part whole method
• Feedback system – negative versus positive

3) Teaching techniques
• Universal teaching technique (i.e. find the problem and fix it)
• Praise, prompt, and leave (i.e. find positive, correction, and next step, leave)
• Relay teach – the cooperative method
• Create your own language (e.g. anachronisms)
• Use your voice as a tool
• Speak in word pictures, analogies, and metaphors
• Overload to get conditioned response (i.e. consistently give the student the advantage when they are demonstrating as early success breeds confidence)
• Progression – teach in sequence and then reverse it (i.e. inductive & deductive)

4) Use the four steps of shaping
• Set the stage
• Modeling
• Prompt
• Forms of feedback (i.e. ask questions, make observations, reinforce the correct response)

5) Talk less, do more
• We need to reduce out verbal instruction

6) Recognize the power of observation, listening, and gathering information
• Behavior patterns
• Myers/ Briggs psychological exam, self-aggression evaluation, and the “I am sheet”

7) Role declaration is paramount to a coaches’ success

8) Know your audience, circumstance, and be ready to adapt or change course

9) Competition means time, score, and personal records (e.g. individual/group)

10) Apologize
• We will make mistakes. We humanize ourselves when we go public and our players will accept us more readily.

We are teachers. We are trying to create an environment of learning. Hence, mistakes must be encouraged as a form of discovery. Certainly, we want to correct the problem and move on in a timely fashion. The more teaching skills we have at our disposal – the better. If we are comfortable with our style, the player will adjust quickly. Effective communication is the instructor’s greatest tool. Learning is a step-by-step process. We keep it simple, as we know that the player responds best to precise instruction.

We believe that the coach should work off a blueprint of conceptual teaching. This means teaching cognitive ideas through a specific process (i.e. drills that are directly linked to the whole). Our drills may change from one season to the next, yet the ingredients of competition and effort level are never compromised.

The what, where, how, when, and why are always foremost in our minds when explaining our philosophy. The “when” and “why” are the most important to us. We want thinking players who can react quickly under pressure. Hence, we create that environment in our practices with consequences for actions.

We teach winning. We are not interested in just playing. The enjoyment for the player comes from learning, interaction with others, and measurable improvement. We teach that perfection comes from an all-out effort.

The standards for winning must be defined. The coach should have measurements both offensively and defensively that represent a system. When pressure is applied confusion will reign unless there is structure. Moreover, that is when communication breaks down. We cannot have this. We see the first signs of a successful culture when the players start saying and teaching “Our Way” when times are tough. We like that.

In conclusion, we can only do one thing at a time. Simplicity is our guide. We constantly evaluate our system under the most severe circumstances. Teaching techniques define our system.


2 comments for “Evolving as a Coach

  1. Corey Kramer
    January 8, 2016 at 1:36 pm

    I am a high school science teacher and boys volleyball coach. These ten things are true for the classroom and the court. I love it when I get to have some of my athletes in my classroom. They know my ideas and philosophy when the enter the gym and the class, and this can help create a great dynamic in the classroom for my non-athletes.

    • bwiliams@coachingtoolbox.net
      January 9, 2016 at 9:43 am

      Great points! Thanks for your comment.

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