Thoughts on getting better

My passion and focus are on getting better at getting better. The longer I coach, the more I realize that we can’t rely on doing more of the same old things we have been doing and hope to get our athletes better. We must use the time and resources better to get better. Here are some thoughts, ideas and concepts I have culled from some of my research and practice on learning:

  • The learning process is based on acquiring new habits and changing old habits
  • Practice does make perfect; practice only makes possible – no guarantees
  • Perfect effort creates a positive climate for learning
  • Drills do not equal skills. Use drills selectively and prescriptively
  • Start with a technical model of the skill and then let the athlete express their interpretation the model. At best the technical model is a framework. Never fit the athlete to a model.
  • Explicit learning is acceptable in the early stages of learning to guide the athlete and move them forward. Gradually switch toward implicit learning by giving the athlete more difficult movement problems to solve.
  • Talk it (clear explanation), chalk it (demonstration) and Walk it (imitation) – then let them spread their wings and fly.
  • Massed practice yields short term results but does not stick
  • For learning to be durable it must be hard
  • Practice is an and opportunity to get better
  • Learn to interleave – practice a skill for a short-focused period of time, leave it go to something else and come back to it. Do this several times in a session.
  • Law of Threes – This relates to the concept of interleaving, it is something I came up with that works for me. Practice a skill for three minutes, move to another skill for three minutes. Repeat these three times and move to other skills. I then come back to original pair as many as three times.
  • It is not the time you put into practice, it’s what you put into the time
  • Have clear specific measurable objectives for each session. Evaluate the planned versus achieved results in practice.
  • The coach is the catalyst that directs the athlete’s attention to the appropriate action.
  • Feedback must be appropriate for each specific situation and learner. Limit the amount of feedback, be specific and on point.
  • Vary the type of feedback
  • Timing and frequency of feedback – With an experienced athlete it is not as effective to give immediate feedback. The beginner on the other hand needs more immediate feedback.
  • Encourage the athlete to rely on their own intrinsic feedback, not to rely on the coach. Feel it! Develop their own error detection and correction process.

Here are some resources that well help you get better at getting better:

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