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  • Writer's pictureHugh Lawrence

Teacher coach: the secret sauce

It's common for coaches and players to think that the effective elite coach has 'secret sauce' in their coaching that lower level coaches don't. But most research into effective coaches reveals that the best coaches do basic things that all coaches do - but the best coaches do them better.

So what is the 'secret sauce'? First, international coaches are working with the very best with the goal of making them even better. In other words, those players have to learn. In the case of team sports, players have a greater chance of learning if you follow seven learning rules - that aren't so secret!

  1. Let players learn by doing, not from you talking

  • reduce your talk time and get them going – it increases player time on task

  • with familiar drills, set practice going with two or three “cue“ words

  1. Repetition leads to learning

  • BUT, only perfect practice makes perfect (and permanent)

  • SO make sure you provide enough “goes” in each drill for learning to happen

  1. Making mistakes is part of getting it right

  • don’t critique individual repetitions; let the drill run and make comments after everyone has had a chance to try or to work it out

  1. Don’t provide all the information

  • hold some back so players have to think

  • some coaches like to add an element of confusion to each drill to force players to think – just like a game

  1. Take players through the base stages of skill experience:

  • uncontested walk through

  • uncontested at around 50% (applies to individual skills and team combinations)

  • uncontested at 80%-90%

  • partially (or soft defense) – allow the skill to succeed

  • intermediate defense where pressure is now applied (offensive or defensive) again allowing the skill to succeed

  • fully opposed, where the player must execute the skill in a decision-making mode (just like a game).

  1. All players should expect to be spoken to personally in every session. Technical correction or refinement is core business for coaches.

  2. Rules 1-6 work in harmony, they overlap and apply at all times, so: “Apply each rule without breaking any of rules 1-6".

(photo source: We the Governed)

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