Coach as “learning consultant” — can we help players to learn how to learn?

Barney Ronay posted this, typically insightful, article on the recriminations after England’s latest Ashes drubbing — Not all failings of England’s Test team can be blamed on County cricket.

One line stands out, for me.

“Root’s complaints about not replicating exactly the conditions of Test cricket in advance are the words of a sports person who has been cosseted through a system from boyhood, who feels it is an oversight not to be spoon-fed the perfect prep…”

Not, perhaps, that players expect to be spoon-fed, but that they perhaps don’t know how to learn if they are not spoon-fed?

This might be key, beyond discussion of central contracts and what the England coaches actually do, beyond CAG & Academy pathways and inclusion, right back to how young players are first introduced to the game.

So the question might be — do coaches know how to teach young players to learn?

Continue reading “Coach as “learning consultant” — can we help players to learn how to learn?”

Is there a third way? Coach as “learning consultant”?

There is an ongoing, sometimes rancorous, debate in the coaching world as to the relative merits of “instruction” and “discovery” learning.

From, on one side, those who want to line players up behind cones, and have them take turns to replicate skills demonstrated by their coach.

Or those who set up games and leave the players to work it out for themselves.

OK — two grossly inaccurate, “straw-man” descriptions of coaching practice. But not uncommon in the darker spaces on Twitter.

Perhaps more accurately:

  • Direct Instruction, which, however it is conceptualised, seeks to inculcate the Instruction.
  • Ecological Dynamics and non-linear pedagogy, exemplified by the constraints-led approach, sees the coach creating a learning environment from which movement solutions “emerge”.

But what if the role of the coach was thought of differently. Neither “instructor” nor “environmental designer”.

Continue reading “Is there a third way? Coach as “learning consultant”?”

How we learn to move — mini-review

Rob Gray’s How We Learn to Move is sure to become the go-to resource for any coach interested in the Ecological Dynamics approach to skill acquisition.

The book is sub-titled “A revolution in the way we coach & practice sports skills”, and this is no exaggeration.

A quite brilliant, inspirational read, for anyone who has ever wondered if “learning by rote” and “repetition, repetition, repetition” were the only way to develop sport skills, this book provides an answer.

Continue reading “How we learn to move — mini-review”