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Coaching Philosophy

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I believe in science. I believe there are things that people who are good at science don't know about yet. I believe in teaching games for understanding and I believe in game sense. I also believe in constraints based learning. I believe this has been a thing for 40+ years. I believe the inability to do the fundamental skills of a sport limit you. I believe as a coach your responsibility is to remove these limitations, by teaching good foundations. I believe the perfect technique is unnecessary. I believe that as athletes develop the building blocks for higher and higher level skills, care needs to be taken that they don't have any attributes which will limit them in the future. I believe that ultimately the best will rise through natural selection. I believe that athletes work things out themselves. I believe coaching only one type of athlete in one way limits the development of others with the potential to excel. I believe that many others can rise through t

Coach Drills v Player Drills

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I've recently come up with a new term to describe drills: 'Coach Drills'. When I say that I've come up with it I mean that I've never heard the term in exactly the context I use, but, of course, that doesn't mean thousands haven't come up with it before! Coach Drills Drills which make a coach feel good but don't necessarily help the athletes improve. Athlete Drills Drills which are great for athlete learning but don't look neat and clean and make a coach feel good. Note I'm not saying there are only 2 types of drills and that there isn't a continuum. Anyone who suggests that in comments on social obviously didn't read this far and, as always, I know who you are ;) Introduction Like most conversations about coaching, let's start with....Brain Neurochemistry. We know that there is a lot of brain neurochemistry that goes into athlete enjoyment and learning: we know that acetylcholine is a 'focus chemical' which is released when t

Three Types of Coaching

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The premise of this post is that there are three distinct types of coaching that coaches must understand and be cognizant of when they make decisions. Theoretical Practical Political I would also add that there are many many more types of coaching. So, anyone who responds to this post without reading it after seeing the headline in social media, and says there are more than three types, I know who you are! THEORETICAL This type of coaching is very important. It is evidence based and analytical in nature. It looks at problems and comes up with logical solutions. A couple of common examples in volleyball coaching are: Research shows it is better to land on 2 feet than one, so I will teach my players to land on two feet and correct them when they don't Research shows it is better to pass midline than outside your body so I will teach my players to move so they are always mid-lining the pass and correct them when they don't. PRACTICAL To follow on from the example above, when you w

When is the right time to do Conditioning?

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There seem to be a lot of questions about 'when to do conditioning'. Or maybe questions about training plans asking 'what do I do after I start with conditioning?' These questions have always puzzled me. Today was a great day though, because it occurred to me for the first time the reason this always puzzles me. Firstly, I'm a really big believer in running drills which involve everyone all the time. That is, no lines of athletes waiting to do things. This is because of, well, science, and anecdotal evidence. Secondly, I never (rarely) do dedicated conditioning sessions because I can never think of what skill practice I would want to skip to do it. Thirdly, my warmups always include strength and conditioning aspects. So, what occurred to me? It occurred to me that if you spend a percentage of your practice time with athletes waiting in lines, they are not doing any conditioning. But if your trainings have all athletes involved in drills at all times, then they are d

A Review of Olympic Sports

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Someone sent me this a long time ago and I thought now was a good time to publish it. I don't necessarily agree with it all but it is fun and interesting. If anyone knows where it came from please let me know, I'm very happy to attribute it. The original title was: Fool's Gold.

What Type of Coach are You?

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Merriam-Webster , describes a coach as, "one who instructs or trains an acting coach a birth coach; especially : one who instructs players in the fundamentals of a sport and directs team strategy." There are two parts to this definition, one is a teacher, and one is a director. That is, one educates, and one commands. These different roles change depending on the environment, and are manifested mostly in competition. In fact, I think all coaches operate along a continuum with 'teacher' at one end and 'competitor' at the other. Some coaches clearly focus more on teaching, some more on competing. There is nothing wrong with a coach being at any point on this continuum. The problem exists when the coach is at a point that their athletes are not. The easiest example is where the result of a match in a junior competition is more important to the coach than the players. You can see this as it is happening. And you can imagine that coach berating the childr

How to Become a Professional Coach

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Sometimes people ask me how you can become a professional coach. Especially somewhere where there might be only 10 jobs nationwide. It is a tough question to answer. But then I find old documents like a movement analysis I did for the National Men's team back in 1991, and I remember how. I was in my last year of my human movement degree and had decided I wanted to be a coach. The national team was on a tour of the country, and I wanted to get in to the game for free. So I decided to volunteer to do a time and motion analysis for them, based on the game. I contacted the head coach with the idea and he agreed. So I borrowed a couple of video cameras, got access to the overhead area so I had a top view, and also a back view. No problem. And I got in for free! The analysis I did is below. Remember, this is all from VHS tapes and stopwatches. Cover Letter Summary Results Detailed Results Oh, and while I was there the CEO asked if I had any free time (I had plenty) and offered me a job t