Adopt pedagogical methods in training

Coaches should have pedagogic knowledge and training to make the dissemination of information more effective and engaging.Pedagogical methods are an easy way to structure training, ensure effective communication and deliver results.

General tips:

  • The “say it - show it - do it” method
    Most people will fall under the visual learner category, with kinesthetic and auditory making up the rest. Kinesthetic learning is known to be predominant in many athletes, this means that these people learn best by doing the action. To ensure that you provide explanations that can cater to these three main learning types, you can implement the “say it- show it-do it” method. The first step, “say it”, caters to those who are auditory learners. The second step, “show it”, can be done using a whiteboard or cones and caters to visual learners. Finally, “do it”, involves having learners walk through the exercise with guidance from a coach. This final step caters to the kinesthetic learners in the group.

  • Talk directly to the group and be sure to maintain appropriate eye contact.
    We have all experienced a teacher who is unengaging, one who doesn't face the students or talk to them directly, and as a result, made the learning process even more strenuous. This is because the teacher was losing the connection and attention of the students by talking in the opposite direction and not looking in their direction. When explaining something in training, the coach should ensure that all players are within sight (semi-circle formation is advisable), and that distractions for the players are kept to a minimum e.g. other teams playing in the background. Be sure to involve players in your discussions and demonstrations to keep them engaged.

  • Whole-part-whole teaching technique
    Sometimes complex skills or concepts can be challenging to learn. In order to learn these kinds of skills and movements more effectively, it can be useful to use the whole-part-whole teaching technique. This involves first practising a whole skill or concept, then some part of this activity is isolated and practised, and then to finish you practice the whole skill again. An example of this could be learning the backhand throw. First, the whole throwing movement is practised, then only the movement of the wrist and then going back to train the whole movement.

Tips for more inclusiveness

  • Allow for ‘learning by doing’ strategies during drills
    Instead of the coach guiding the players through every step of the drill, it can be beneficial to let the player just try the drill and realise their own solutions to mistakes they may make during the drill. This is so the player can start the learning process instead of just trying to follow the coach's instructions. Once the player identifies their errors or misunderstandings then the coach can offer solutions and deeper explanations.

  • Inclusive language
    Communication skills are one of the core competencies of a coach. They must use appropriate language and be conscious of their use of gender-equitable language. There are many different learning styles, such as visual, kinesthetic and auditory. Knowing how to cater to different learning styles can make training and communication more productive.

  • Divide groups according to skill level, not gender
    Structuring training in ways that facilitated the coaching and development of all players means having challenging drills for all participants, irrespective of their gender. Grouping of genders, especially in Mixed training, can be detrimental to the morale of players. For example, if experienced women matching players are assigned to a beginner group, just because there are other women matching players in that group, it is going to negatively affect the team dynamic.

  • Identify the skill limits of the players, and encourage them to take a step further
    As Matthew Syed says in his book “Bounced - The myth of talent and the power of practice”, there is a learning effect in everything we do only if it is challenging, purposeful and deliberate. If something is just routine, our brain uses well defined subconscious pathways and we do not even register what we are doing. This is of course the ideal state, to be able to do things instinctively in a perfect way. To reach this grade of mastery, it is necessary to practice something at least 10 thousand times in a challenging way, always at the limit. Through practice by practising, the brain moves the skills from explicit to implicit monitoring leading up to the top performance.

  • Give accurate and appropriate feedback
    To improve, each player needs accurate feedback given by a trainer. But it is also beneficial if the player can give feedback to themselves according to objective criteria. This is quite simple for drills where the player needs to hit a target (like darts, golf putting, etc.). Generally, it is advisable in every sport to develop a self-assessment template to measure individual skills and identify potential areas of improvement. Recording the drill executions or games and then analyzing them is another very effective form of personal feedback. This can help develop a player's personal awareness and contribute to their learning and development as an athlete.

All these methods are part of the Train the Trainer Curriculum of the European Ultimate Federation.

Referenced Case Studies

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