After posting some of my mistakes this season and what I’ve learnt, here are some lessons again I’ve learnt but ones in which I have shown quicker improvements.
Incorporating technology within sessions to stay adaptable. Without the use of the surface, I’d be less confident in my organization that’s for sure. It’s funny how much of my session I can control with absolute certainty when I have my surface tablet on hand. Minor details such as the colors of the bibs to more significant details such as players available can be quickly changed on the go with every session I take. If we need to spend a little longer on a particular practice I can adjust and plan accordingly, all within the session. Before I was using the surface the need to incorporate forced changes would easily throw me off. I have no problem saying that. My ability to quickly adapt and keep on track is an area that I need to improve but this is now made a lot easier by the surface. I originally had this down to be part of my mistakes post but on second thought, this is not necessarily a mistake or a sticking point as the incorporation of the technology is where the game is going. I guess it’s just a dependence which I don’t like.
What I have learnt is that in using the surface, I can control every detail with great precision and that the players are able to see key images and explanations dynamically to cater for all learning styles which the players also enjoy. I can also quickly make changes and refer to previous sessions instantly if needed. It really has enhanced my coaching process.
Communicating technical information with creative minimalism. I feel that I have realized that I do not have to rush things in regards to getting information out. I have dialed things down and tried to lead with one main principle and build around it rather than cover several principles at once. This has not only led to less time wasted with me losing players with explanations but has also allowed for a greater and faster understanding of a single principle. This is of course a more favorable situation than having a hazy understanding of several principles. In using a single principle to drive sessions, I have been able to be very precise in my use of technical terms and have seen this has led to players catching on to phrases and terminology repeating things back to me as I had said them. But parroting is not necessarily a sign of understanding. So when quizzed further, impressively the players have been able to explain the concepts of the principle in their own wordings. This is good news.
What I have learnt is that less is more. The use of vivid imagery and involving demonstrations helps add depth to a simplistic concept no matter what the age. Allow sessions to run as much as possible and make notes of points to explain rather than firing out the point while they play or worse yet stopping the session with regularity. Then when questioning for understanding, use small groups when talking to everyone rather than have everyone huddled as a collective and look at the competition and engagement increase as players fight not to be the weak link!
Session management. If I look back to the sessions in fall I would say I’ve managed to improve in this area the most. This is because I pinpointed this area as a key area and put a lot of time into fixing it! Basically I wasn’t helping myself with my planning. It wasn’t as thorough as it could have been. This was just leading to average sessions in my eyes where the first half of the session could have been improved by at least 20%. I didn’t need anyone to tell me what was happening (even though they were probably thinking it!) but it was clear that it was something I needed to get a better grip of. Since those fall sessions I have consciously tried to improve my session management and initial organization. ‘Control the controllables’ is a common phrase that applies to many walks of life and here is no different. I took time to examine every aspect of the session and how they interacted with one another, even things I didn’t think were necessarily important at first glance, e.g. the color of players bibs in exercise 1. I then made sure that a conscious decision was made in regards those details in some small level. Doing so has led to sessions that I feel the players are now benefiting from the whole way through.
What I have learnt is that every detail matters. Everything is connected and that time can easily be utilized or lost dependent on how well these details are manipulated. Session learning and player engagement can be greatly advanced if I am able to keep control of as many details as possible. Doing so allows them to enjoy greater uninterrupted repetition and then for me concentrate on my communication and interactions with the players.
Realizing the player’s understanding is a better measure of when to progress topics, not time. Players will show when they are ready to move on with a subject with their ability to repeat the required actions or technique without any invitation. Once it is seen independently then you have your trigger to take things forward. It may be a question of waiting for an extra session but there will be a moment where if I remain patient enough, the players will show that collective understanding that had been planned for. However upon starting my sessions earlier in the year I was far more hasty in my progressions. I would go by the time as a means to progress. The weeks and months were my indicator to progress and not the actual player’s understanding.
What I have learnt is that it is important that time is still used as a main reference point by which to measure how we should progressing. However, flexibility should be incorporated into the program to allow for players to have control of their learning and reach their own independent conclusions. This will require patience and adaptability but having players who understand less things deeply is more powerful than having players who understand more things shallowly.