Posts

Maslow's Hierarchy of Coaching Needs

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I've been spending a lot of time on coach development over the past 5+ years and have made a number of observations. Primarily, that coaches have different needs and interests and different times . I call it Maslow's Hierarchy of Coaching Needs and, like Maslow's Hierarchy , there is little scientific basis for it. The concept of Maslow's Hierarchy is that someone needs to be satisfied at one level before having the capacity to progress to the next. For beginner coaches, technical is the focus for the first 5 years, then tactical for 5 years, then Sports Science and Sports Medicine for 5 years, then the actual ability to 'coach' after that. 1  For anyone still reading, yes, the 5 years is arbitrary but feels about right. It takes a long time! Now, what are the practical implications of this? Primarily it is related to coach development. A good coach developer knows that coaching skills are critical, and that curiosity is a trait of high performing coaches. But

Coaching for the Future, Today

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I often see questions on coaching forums asking what 'technique' or 'system' should be used for what division. This is a good question and I doubt the questioner is completely satisfied with the wildly contradictory responses they get, but I understand the question. What I don't understand is why there is always such a sense of immediacy. That is, the need to know what to do THIS year. I've never really operated in situations like this. The question I'm usually asking is, what do I have to be able to do next year and the year after.  To a large extent, what athletes can do this year is already with them. Of course, you can change during a season, but really, you are polishing what already exists. While you are polishing what already exists, you also need to be introducing what will be required next year. You don't have to be able to do it perfectly, but the athletes need to learn the fundamentals. While you are polishing and teaching, you also need to en

What happens when players miss training?

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I often see discussions in coaching groups about how to manage athletes who do not attend trainings. Usually the discussion is related to how long they should be banned from the court as punishment for not coming to training. Sometimes it is argued that it is not that they are being punished, it is that the players who WERE at training would effectively be punished by not getting to compete even though they had been, presumably, dedicated. Usually I decide not to comment at all. I don't think I could write anything that would be acceptable, because I don't really understand the premise. So, rather than providing advice to someone else, I'll just go through what I would do, and the rationale for it. If players come to practice that is great. If they don't that is a shame because they miss out. I do my best to create an environment that people want to come to because they think there is value If players miss practice the 'punishment' is that they miss out practice

When are you at your best as a coach?

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  There are many examples in popular culture of the 'excitable young pup' and the 'wise old dog'. There is a Warner Brothers cartoon I remember with the pup constantly jumping up and down with energy. There is another example in a Sean Penn movie where he plays a young policeman and his old, craggy partner, tells a story about how best to go downhill to the pasture. As someone getting towards the wizened old end of the scale I recognise the value of the enthusiasm of youth. Sometimes not seeing or knowing why something shouldn't work has a real value. Same with not remembering all the times something was tried and it didn't work and so it is not worth bothering to try again.** This idea got me thinking of coaching in relation to the Dunning-Kruger effect . What part of the chart do you think makes the best coach?  What part makes the best junior coach? What part makes the best pro-level coach? Do you think the curve is the same for male coaches and female? **On

What is Competitiveness?

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There was an interesting video posted recently where a coach makes the point that hard work is not the same as competitiveness, which is a really good point. Here is the video: I previously wrote a post discussing 'Hard Work'.  On THIS post I want to discuss 'Competitiveness'. Firstly, let's quickly note some misconceptions: You are not either Competitive or Not Competitive Competitiveness is a spectrum, unsurprisingly, because pretty much everything related to human beings is a spectrum. Different people have different levels of competitiveness. Some levels are occasionally useful in sport, but often negative in sport and life. You are not Necessarily the same level of competitive in different situations Competitiveness is situational, like ' Grit '. You can be competitive when there is nothing on the line, but not be competitive when there is. An obvious (and admittedly clumsy) example is that you can be competitive in sport but not care where you place

Competiveness v Hard Work

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I recently saw a video of a coach discussing that working hard and competing are not the same. Which is a really interesting idea to me. The point was that anyone can work hard. And that a coach can make anyone work hard. Which I don't really agree with but I understand the point, I think. Then afterwards I realised there were a few things missing. But first I want to note, I really liked the clip. It really resonated with me and made me think. Maybe too much!   Ok, I'll assume you have watched the video now, or have seen it before. If not, stop and watch it. Don't be that person who forms an opinion on something just by reading the headline and the comments! Now........... (Arguably) the two biggest myths in sport are all athletes are competitive 1 and all athletes can work hard all the time if they want to Neither are true at all Having said that, both are really important ideas for getting the most out of athletes. So, a few of questions came to mind: Are they related o

What is the difference between reading and reacting?

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I recently asked a friend of mine who is an expert in Skill Acquisition about reading and reacting. My exact question was: "What is the difference between reading and reacting? Is reacting even a thing?" As usual his reply was excellent, illuminating, and managed to avoid scientific terminology so it was easy to understand. The response in full is: In the literature it is called the perception-action coupling, and refers to how your brain (using mainly your eyes) takes in information and then uses that to make decisions. It is important to note that this process is continuous, and not as ‘isolated’ as we might conceptualize in sport. This read and react continues multiple times per second as we perform the task, continuing to use information to shape our movement. So in a soccer example, you have the ball and ‘read’ the options, you make your decision, but are continually perceiving information to make sure that it is the right decision, and continually using that inf