GAINcast Episode 191: Teaching better (with Doug Lemov)

When it comes down to it, coaching really is just teaching in a different setting. Educational consultant Doug Lemov has helped the teaching profession rethink how it can best educate students. Now he is turning his attention to coaches to see how coaches can improve their teaching abilities. He joins this week’s GAINcast to discuss key principles of good teaching that can help us improve our effectiveness as coaches.

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Notes and quotes

Doug Lemov is an educator, author, and the Managing Director of Uncommon Schools. Lemov has written bestselling book Teach Like a Champion, Practice Perfect, and his upcoming book The Coach’s Guide to Teaching. In the sporting world, Lemov has been involved with helping several organizations such as US Soccer.

  • 3:30 – Teaching and coaching: “Coaching really is just teaching, just in a different setting.”
  • 7:15 – Research into elite teaching: “John Wooden’s greatest lesson is knowing the difference between I taught it and they learned it. Assume that knowledge gaps will emerge. That’s the challenge of the teacher.” “If you are teaching something challenging of course learners will struggle to learn it, so the question is how soon can I see them, diagnose them, and how ready can I make myself to respond to them.”
  • 12:15 – Tick the box syndrome: “You have forgotten almost everything you’ve learned in your life. If you doubt me, just have children, wait 15 years, and help them with their science homework. As soon as they walk off the court they start forgetting, unless you come back and retrieve it.
  • 16:00 – Making mistakes and chasing perfection: “We socialize players to hustle. That is really important, but so is the cognitive side of that: being engaged, willing to struggle, and having your mind turned on the minute you start training. Never mistake activity for achievement.”
  • 22:00 – Purpose vs. objective: “Coaches often use a description of the activity as the objective. It has to be much more narrow. You should be able to think of 10 possible objectives for each activity.”
  • 25:00 – Creating targets: “The goal should be something you should legitimately be able to accomplish in the session. If you have a gigantic goal that you cannot accomplish or see progress on in a single session, you’ll never have a good sense for what’s working.”
  • 26:00 – Feedback and correction vs critique: “Understand the limits of working memory. I want my players to learn more, so I tell them 5 things. But it is impossible to do 5 things at once, so the likelihood is you won’t follow through on any of them, or you’ll try them all and fail.” “Don’t just say something is great, explain what makes it great. People often think of positive feedback as a motivational tool. But it is more powerful if it is a tool to help people know what to replicate.”
  • 33:30 – Video feedback, and watching yourself coach.
  • 36:30 – Being effective with drills and selecting meaningful drills.
  • 47:00 – Ideas on addressing attention span: “Distracted coach = distracted player. Sustain focus on one thing.”
  • 53:30 – Upcoming book on teaching for coaches and lessons from top coaches: “It is obvious to us that growth mindset applies to athletes and that is the purpose of the endeavor. But that is also true to coaches. We need a growth mindset too.”

To hear more about these topics you can listen to the full episode above. If you like what you hear on the GAINcast, don’t forget to give us a review and subscribe on iTunes.

Further reading

The following links were referenced in the podcast or provide some additional reading material on the topic: