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 practise 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 be conscious of their use of and  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 practise 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 analysing 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. 

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