Thursday, June 25, 2009

How much Coaching is Too Much?

I know I have said before that I believe many coaches try too hard when coaching and in the process are often over coach athletes. It is great to be eager and try to fix everything as soon as possible, but Rome was not built in one day. Although practice time is limited and we generally feel like we have too much to say in too little time, we should understand athletes are learning without us constantly coaching them. In fact, according to research on focus and attention there is only a certain level of stimulus a person can handle at one time. With this knowledge, we need to apply this research to our coaching and an athlete's needs. One or two things for an athlete to focus on will be plenty especially in a controlled environment such as practice, work on one thing at a time and then progress appropriately- you are in charge. In a game situation it may be a little harder because there is much more stimulus, but I think proper preparation for these moments in practice will teach the athletes how to control their focus.

I will share something with you that I heard in a book by Mike Krzyzewski, basketball coach at Duke University. He said that in the locker room before any game he coaches he will write one word on the chalkboard. This one word is the basis behind everything he preaches in the pregame speech. By giving the athletes one word, he ensures they will be more focused on that particular task and accountable for performing to the best of their abilities relating to the focus word. I think you know you are over coaching when an athlete's performance is no longer reflecting your coaching. For example, if you tell them 6 things and they can only handle and respond to 4 of those things, this may be evidence that you need to break it down further for them to understand. When a motivated athlete does not do something we say, we need to take a different approach to teaching them (it is our fault not theirs). In Coach Krzyzewski's case, one word is enough to focus on at one time.

Thank you for reading, more to come tomorrow....

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