Some observations from 14 years of hosting teams from all over the world
Athlete centred coaching. The latest trend in coaching has become widely used at the highest levels of sport. The ages 12-18 that we tend to see a lot of, the athlete centred approach has some really good documented benefits. The purpose of sport in these age groups is to develop the person as much as the sporting capability. According to long term athlete development framework, these athletes are in one of the following stages.
One of the biggest common complaints from our visiting coaches…
We see many parents, coaches and parent-coaches come across our paths. We organize tours for all levels of teams, from all different sporting codes and many parts of the world. Almost all of our tours get some specialist coaching in some shape or form. These specialist coaches have honed their craft and know what athletes need at what time. Given we tend to develop tours for age groups 12-18, it’s often the basics that need to be tended to and coached and repeated.
One of the most common statements from our parents and coaches who tour with the team is:
“We’ve gone through all of these skills with our players, how come they are actually listening and doing it different when it comes from the specialist coaches”
What we’ve noticed is that sometimes parent-coaches or volunteer coaches can have a more prescriptive and dictative approach. It can be challenging to find new, inventive ways to drill the basics, and of course sometimes it’s just a novelty effect. We all know the coaches who are quite prescriptive in their approach. They often have quite good game and skill understanding. They may have played at quite a high level in their own career, or are a very passionate fan or avid club participant. They mean well, and in many cases sometimes the team would cease to exist if it wasn’t for the passion of some volunteers.
If you want to explore new ways that you can learn from the best.
Learn to drill the basics, but get more adoption from your athletes.
Scroll to the bottom for a few downloads from Sport NZ
Often our specialist coaches are masters at finding new ways to teach the basics. The All Blacks are known for their focus on run-catch-pass, and Rowing NZ’s basics are release-recovery-catch-drive. It’s always amazing to see that seasoned coaches can get the maximum performance out of some athletes who nobody expected to perform. These are some of the most magical moments on tour. So what is different about the seasoned specialist coaches and how do they manage to essentially be teaching the SAME things, and somehow are able to pull out the greatness in each individual athlete. Well, we think it’s the athlete centred approach, the constraint led approach and the Teaching Games for Understanding. We all know that when a student of the game comes to a new conclusion themselves, they are more likely to remember and embody that new learning than if it’s told to them time and time again. As athletes work their way up the hierarchy of learning, as a coach you can support them in having them arrive at the conclusions themselves, which will ensure they can “embody” the knowledge and use it in different situations and be able to make decisions when the circumstances look a little bit different. This is the ultimate aim, to have your athletes be able to make decisions and self correct, of course this comes with time, but there are a few ways to ensure it happens easier and faster and earlier in their development.
Sporting New Zealand has some resources to help take you to the next level in your own coaching journey.
Here is a bit of a comparison about how the traditional model of coaching compares to Teaching Games for Understanding or “Small Sided Games”.