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Teach it the Right Way!

A while back I was passing through a gym where a team was having practice. I didn’t think much of what was going on until I decided to plant myself and just observe. Most the time when I’m in a gym I’m the one blowing the whistle, instructing and in this case I thought I’d just sit and watch. What I saw made me take note to write this article.

The coach running this practice is a very good, knowledgeable coach. The problem he was having in practice was his players were not getting his instruction. As he stood off to the side giving instruction, I certainly understood what he was saying, but the poor kids learning for the first time were doing it wrong and looked a little confused. Simply put there was no demonstration.

You can just imagine the confusion, miss-understanding and every player doing something different because they did not get the visual. He stood there getting frustrated and repeating his instruction to the players doing it wrong over and over again.

It made me think that as important as I feel it is to demonstrate the instruction some coaches just don’t think to do it. What are a few simple things I could share with others to help teach players a skill? Below are my thoughts.

Here’s what I consider to be the Right Way to teach players a skill.

1. Introducing the Skill The first thing you’ll want to do is introduce the skill to them by a catchy name. Be clear in what this instruction will help them with and what they’re going to be learning. If you’re coaching experienced players over 13 this step should only take you a few seconds to tell them what they’re going to learn. If you are coaching young youth players spend a little more time on this step repeating yourself and getting feedback from them. This way it helps you to know they are picking up on it. Bottom line is if they do not get what you’re doing you are wasting time, so spend more time up front making sure they understand. Let them know why they will need to do what it is they are working on.

2. Demonstrate and Continue to Explain the Skill It’s extremely important that the skill is demonstrated correctly and there is no confusion. For starters it helps to demonstrate the skill slowly, step-by-step, and without defense. This might sound like you are wasting too much time but believe me players learn differently and you want to make sure they all get it. What are the keys to the skill? Come up with some fun key words or phrases to help it hit home. Always demonstrate the skill a few times slowly and then open it up to questions from them. Ask them to repeat it.

3. Player Practice the Skill After the demonstration allow the players to start practicing the skill themselves doing it slowly. It will take a while for them to understand, then they must get their mind to tell their body. They will make mistakes and struggle but it is all part of learning process. Don’t rush this. Do not be concerned about the speed at first. It’s more important that they learn the fundamentals of the skills first before speeding up.

4. When and Why to Use the Skill Once you have explained it, demonstrated it and allowed them to practice the skill allow some time for discussion of why and when they can use the skill. Add some light defense so they understand and see the benefit. Player must know when and why to use the skill, then it will really click with them. Use your white board as well.

5. Repetition, Repetition, Repetition There is value in repetition, as tiresome as it may seem and as boring as kids tell you it is. Repetition is what makes the average players great. This is what coaches struggle to find time for so encourage your players to do it on their own. It is hard work but will really pay off in time

We all know young players learn at different levels. While some might pick up the skill quickly, there will be others that will not and they must to benefit the whole team. If the attention of your team hinders their learning that is a whole new subject matter and must be addressed.

Don’t be the guy standing off to the side getting frustrated and shouting, get into it with these 5 simple steps of coaching the skill the Right Way. r.

Good luck with your game,

Coach O


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