Preparing the ground — What is coaching? (2)

Looking at coaching from an ecological dynamics/constraints-led approach viewpoint (which I do tend to do, nowadays), the role of the coach might be likened to that of a gardener.

And one gardening skill that acquires great importance in this model is the ability to prepare the ground, whether that be the learning environment itself or the player’s own receptivity to learning.

By definition, effective CLA-style learning does not occur in an environment were all activities are closely directed and regulated (“do this; do it this way; do it again until you get it right”). The coach is charged with creating that learning environment.

Equally, the player who has only ever learnt in a formal, regulated environment (sat at a school desk, or drilled on a sports field) will probably struggle when thrown into a less structured learning environment. The coach has a role in helping the athlete adapt to the learning environment.

So the coach must prepare the ground if he hopes to see the players he works with thriving.

On “coach as ecology designer”

The gardener cannot actually “grow” tomatoes, squash, or beans – she can only foster an environment in which the plants do so.

Sport Practitioners as Sport Ecology Designers: How Ecological Dynamics Has Progressively Changed Perceptions of Skill “Acquisition” in the Sporting Habitat
Frontiers in Psychology, 24 April 2020

Sport Practitioners as Sport Ecology Designers: How Ecological Dynamics Has Progressively Changed Perceptions of Skill “Acquisition” in the Sporting Habitat

In this paper, Woods, McKeown, Rothwell, Araújo, Robertson, & Davids discuss how the ecological approach to skill acquisition has redefined the role of “coach” as “sport ecology designer”.

…the ecological dynamics framework has emphasized how the role of the sports practitioner has evolved from an autocratic instructor who leads every sequential step of athlete progression through continuous provision of verbal information and corrective feedback to one of a “learning designer” whose role it is to work with athletes to identify and manipulate the key constraints of practice environments.

Learning to learn

This, from The Learner Lab via @coachingcoach_, seems pertinent.

Just like any skill, learning requires practice.

Soil Before Seeds :

Before learning, we need to know how to learn.

And whilst the responsibility for learning lies with the player, the coach must at least share the responsibility for helping the athlete develop his learning skills.

Published by Andrew Beaven

Cricket coach, fascinated by the possibilities offered by the game. More formally - ECB level 2 cricket coach; ECB National Programmes (All Stars & Dynamos Cricket) Activator Tutor; Chance to Shine & Team Up (cricket) deliverer; ECB ACO umpire.

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