Effective Teaching for Coaches - Article


Tuesday, September 09, 2014

“They call it coaching but it is teaching. You do not just tell them, you show them the reasons.”
Vince Lombardi, Green Bay Packers – 5 NFL Championships and first 2 Superbowls

“I think that the best thing and the number one thing I can do is teach, it is easy for me to teach. The ability to develop an environment where people flourish is what teaching is about and I really respect the people who taught me how to teach.”
Mark Williams, Port Adelaide Premiership Coach

“A coach is someone who can give correction without causing resentment.”
John Wooden, UCLA Bruins -10 time NCAA National Champions

Teaching, along with people management skills, as the quotes from the successful coaches above demonstrate, is one of the key competencies of modern coaching. In the past many coaches, including at professional level, were trained teachers. This is less so today. What can coaches do to improve the teaching aspects of their coaching?

The most obvious thing is to set up as many teaching situations in your coaching activities as you can so you can practice the art as often as possible. Ensure that you get regular feedback, a key source of learning, about your own performance in this area to gain the maximum benefit – from players, other team coaches, a teaching mentor, videos of you coaching, planned reflection.

This is the first of a series of articles about mastering the art of teaching as part of your coaching skills repertoire.

Teaching and the Coaching Process

So how does teaching fit in with the total coaching process? In team sports, most coaching is based around developing a team and reaching a level of consistent performance which results in success (ultimately winning premierships).

The first step for a coach is to develop a game plan or style of play and some tactics around specific game situations. The coaching process is then used to create an environment where the players learn to play to the plan and are eventually able to perform it at a consistently high level.

Having established a game plan or style, the coach must determine what is required of the players to execute the game plan successfully. Understanding this and the current abilities of each player allows the coach to plan practice activities to develop the players’ abilities to deliver individually, as groups, and as a total team.

The Coaching Process can be described as a recurring process involving some specific steps. It can be considered at two levels:

The Coaching Process 1 – Team Development

The Coaching Process 2 – Conducting Practice

The steps in the process at the first level, longer term team development, can be described as:

  • Having a clear vision and understanding of your game plan and its components and what is required of players to carry it out effectively
  • Setting player and team development and performance goals
  • Developing a practice plan to develop the players individual and team competencies to the level required to meet these goals
  • Planning and conducting effective practice sessions to develop the players
  • Evaluating performance in training and games
  • Resetting goals (tweaking the game plan if required) and continuing the process
The Coaching Process 1 - Team Development

The steps in the second level, conducting practice, can be described as:

  • Deciding a specific element of the game plan to practice
  • Organising the practice activity so that the players can perform at match level and the coach can easily observe the related skill and tactical execution
  • Observing the practice to analyse and evaluate the main elements of game plan and skill performance.
  • Coaching/teaching the players in the practice activity – the combination of the knowledge (game plan), organisation and observation allows the coach to provide the players with appropriate situations, cues, feedback and reinforcement, to enhance their learning about the specific element of the game plan being practiced.
  • Reviewing the suitability of the practice activity to achieve the goal and the players’ performance/learning in the activity
The Coaching Process 2 - Conducting Practice

For the teaching element of coaching to be successful, all of the other steps must be in place – Knowledge of the game and game plan, planning of practice, organisation of the activity and analysis of performance. Then the real teaching can begin.

Future articles will focus on specific elements of the art of teaching and tools to improve this critical aspect of your coaching.


Russell Dowling, 03-10-14 11:23:
I have found that having a competent mentor has improved my coaching. They have put things into the right perspective. As coach I can either be too critical or not critical enough.

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