My new AI coaching guru. A “conversation” with ChatGPT about coaching pedagogies.

There has recently been some discussion about a new artificial intelligence (AI) system called ChatGPT, and a lot of that talk very negative.

How it might enable students to cheat by writing their essays for them, how it might destabilise white collar work, even how it might become a “morally corrupting influence”.

For all that, I thought it might be interesting to quiz ChatGPT about a current topic in coaching, traditional instruction, Direct Instruction, and non-linear pedagogies applying some of the concepts of ecological dynamics.

And I have to say that I might have found myself an “AI coaching guru”!

A conversation with Chat GPT about coaching pedagogy.

The Teesra (TT) — Explain the concept of direct instruction.

Direct instruction is a teaching method that emphasizes explicit and systematic instruction of skills and knowledge. It typically involves a teacher providing clear and direct explanations, modeling the desired behavior or skill, and providing opportunities for students to practice and receive feedback on their own. The focus of direct instruction is on the teacher as the primary source of knowledge and the students as recipients of that knowledge. It is often used in subjects such as reading, math, and spelling, and is particularly useful for teaching basic skills and concepts.


TT — Is direct instruction appropriate in sports coaching?

Direct instruction can be an appropriate method for teaching specific skills and techniques in sports coaching, especially for beginners or for teaching new or complex skills. It allows the coach to clearly and systematically explain and demonstrate the proper technique, and then provide opportunities for the athletes to practice and receive feedback. This method can be effective for breaking down complex movements and skills into smaller, manageable parts, and providing specific and clear instructions on how to perform them correctly. However, it’s worth noting that direct instruction alone might not be enough to develop a high-performance team or athlete, as it can be beneficial to incorporate other methods such as guided discovery, game-based approach and small-sided games, as well as providing opportunities for players to make decisions and solve problems on their own in a game-like scenario.


TT — I had expected you to mention non-linear pedagogies and the theory of ecological dynamics as alternatives to direct instruction. Where do these theories fit in?

You are correct that non-linear pedagogy and the theory of ecological dynamics are alternative approaches to direct instruction that focus on different aspects of learning and coaching.

Non-linear pedagogy is an approach that emphasizes the importance of context and the learner’s own experiences in shaping their understanding and development. It is based on the idea that learning is a non-linear, dynamic process that cannot be reduced to a simple set of instructions or steps. Instead, it is an ongoing process of engagement with the environment and the development of skills and understanding through active exploration and experimentation.

The theory of ecological dynamics, also known as ecological dynamics in sport, is a way to understand the sport as a complex system of interactions between the athlete, the task, the environment, and the coach. It emphasizes the importance of understanding the relationships between these different elements and how they influence performance. It also suggests that the coach should adapt to the context and the athlete’s unique characteristics, and create opportunities for the athlete to explore and learn by doing.

Both non-linear pedagogy and the theory of ecological dynamics can be used in sports coaching to complement direct instruction and provide a more holistic approach to player development. They are particularly useful for helping athletes develop problem-solving skills, creativity, decision-making and adaptability to different situations.


TT — I have a coaching session later this morning, with a group of 11 year olds. How might I use an ecological dynamics approach to coach fielding skills with them?

An ecological dynamics approach to coaching fielding skills with 11-year-olds would involve understanding the relationships between the players, the task of fielding, the environment, and the coach. Here are a few suggestions on how to implement this approach:

1. Assess the players: Before starting the coaching session, take time to observe the players and understand their current level of skill and understanding of the task. This can help you identify any areas of weakness or strengths and tailor the session to their needs.

2. Adapt to the environment: Fielding is affected by the conditions of the field, such as the type of surface, weather, and lighting. Take into account these factors and adapt the session accordingly. For example, if the field is wet, focus on teaching the players how to field a ball that is slipping.

3. Create opportunities for exploration: Instead of only giving direct instructions, create opportunities for the players to explore and discover for themselves. For example, set up different scenarios and let the players practice how to field in those situations. This will help them understand the task better and develop their decision-making skills.

4. Encourage creativity: Encourage the players to come up with their own solutions and strategies for fielding. This will help them develop their own understanding of the task and improve their ability to adapt to different situations.

5. Provide feedback: Provide the players with feedback on their performance and help them understand the connections between their actions and the outcomes. Feedback should be specific, immediate and focus on the task and not the person.

6. Gradually increase difficulty: As the players improve, gradually increase the difficulty of the task. This will help them continue to develop their skills and understanding.

By using an ecological dynamics approach, you will be able to create a more dynamic and adaptive coaching environment that better meets the needs of your 11-year-old players.


My new guru?

All in all, I was very impressed by the responses from ChatGPT. It did not, perhaps, tell me anything I didn’t already believe (‘ware guru syndrome), and the answer to the question about a coaching session was more theoretical than I might have hoped for, but ChatGPT has highlighted areas for further study

Maybe more mentor than guru, perhaps? But I can foresee further conversations with ChatGPT.

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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