«

»

Jan 05

Planning: Why It Matters and How To Do It

Share This Post!

I have a question for you: in your daily coaching process and delivery, are you just winging it? Making up your practice plans and strategies on the fly? Being a hope-and-pray type of coach? Or do you have a clear-cut plan to develop your athletes’ skills and achieve the goals of your team?

If you are winging it – don’t feel bad! About 7 in 10 Coaches make the exact same mistake, according to statistics by the American Coaching Academy! Huh! If you’re lucky enough to get a team that’s stacked with talented, well-behaved, and motivated kids, who always try their best, then you’re in good shape. But if you’re like most coaches, you’ve got a variety of skill levels and personalities on your team. Not only are you trying to teach these kids the fundamentals and tactics of your sport, you’re also trying to groom the next generation of leaders and give them a positive sports experience they’ll remember for the rest of their lives! It’s a lot to think about. It’s no surprise so many coaches are stressed out and overwhelmed with their responsibilities.

Pedagogy: the “art, science, or profession of teaching, instructional methods and principles”… deals with the theory and practice of teaching. It was part of my doctoral program and I found it to be extremely helpful throughout my entire teaching and coaching career (and that is many years!). It most likely contributed to the numerous Teaching Excellence Awards at the University of Calgary, prestigious 3M Teaching Fellowship Award for Teaching Excellence at Canadian Universities, and numerous International Teaching/Coaching Excellence Awards I received over the years.

While this academic discipline is directed toward teachers and students, I am applying the same process to coaching and athletes because we also deal with teaching/coaching strategies, coaching actions, judgments, and decisions, taking into consideration theories of learning, and our athletes, their needs, backgrounds, and interests of individual athletes. Pedagogy includes methods for coach/athlete interaction, along with the social and intellectual environment coaches seek to establish.

Planning

Planning is a tedious and time-consuming process… until one gets the hang of it!

There are coaches, especially experienced ones, who dislike the very aspect of planning because it “takes away from the actual coaching.” They would rather spend their time on the “more important stuff” such as coaching at the pool or deck site, the field, the rink, or court! Okay, I grant you, there are some who have succeeded in the past or do so now by using their ‘personal instinct or gut feeling’ in this process. I co-coached with one of those, and had to start a diary since I never knew what was going to be on the daily agenda! What was the progression or drill sequence, what was the workout plan, etc.? “Don’t worry your pretty PHD head over that, Love,” was his joke! When I was finally given the female squad, I was able to do things how I thought best and did so very successfully!

I have put together some Guidelines, which may help your planning process and delivery.

Pre-Delivery – Preparation is the Key!

  • Plan your season early! I usually had my plans ready by mid-May for the following season with start-up in mid-September.
  • Create a workable seasonal plan (basic lay-out), which then can be modified for the following season[s]. It saves a lot of work!

The 3 Stages of Planning:

Pre-impact

Planning the daily session[s] includes:

  • Warm-up
  • Cool-down
  • Physical preparation and conditioning – select the physical components
  •  Technical preparation/Skill preparation
    •  Physical components needed
    •  Progressions/Sequences
  • Mental preparation  
  • Main Theme – Skill[s] to be reviewed, refined, new
  • Refer to previous preparations when teaching new skills

Impact

  • Actual delivery of training plan
  • Follow prepared progressions and sequences when teaching/coaching skills
  • Implement error detection and error correction
  • Provide constructive feedback
  • Demonstrate energy, enthusiasm, and patience (especially with younger age group athletes)

Post Impact

  • Evaluate teaching/coaching process
  • Evaluate athletes’ progress of the day
  • Implement modifications if needed (for next session)

The Daily Session – General Delivery

  1.     Brief Introduction of daily objectives (very brief)
  2.     General Warm-up to increase Heart Rate (HR)
    • Dynamic moving
    • Dynamic stationary
  3.     Warm-up focusing on specific body part used in session
  4.     Specific Warm-up for skill[s] to be learned in session
  5.  Training exercises using the Sandwich Method of teaching: old-new-old
    • Review previous skill – it should relate or tie to new skill[s]
    • Refine previous skill[s] if needed
    • Introduce new skill #1
    • Introduce new skill #2

  *Introduce one or two skills maximum for better learning and retention

  1.  Finish the session by reviewing previous skill[s] already known
  2. Evaluate the session:
    • Coaching
      What went well? What needs to be reviewed, re-taught, or refined? Was the plan completed? If not, what was the reason? Are there any changes or modifications needed? Was the communication effective? Were the explanations well defined?
    • Athletes
      Did they learn the new skill[s]? Any physical, mental, or technical deficiencies? Focus or concentration issues? Is any refinement of skill[s] necessary?

Specific Delivery

  1.     Break down the skill[s] – simple to complex progressions
    • Method 1
      Part-Part-Whole method (bottom-up approach)
    • Method 2
      Whole method (top-down approach): show entire skill – point out what is already known – practice the unknown – make the connections
  1.     Focus on key points and major principles
  2.     Use Demonstration of Skills
    • Well performed – ask: What was done well?
    • Poorly performed – ask: What needs to be corrected or improved?
  1.     Avoid Information Overload
    • 20 seconds maximum duration when explaining drill. Explain-practice-review-practice the corrections and then refine skill[s]
  1.     Make sure that the skill is technically ‘sound’ and performed well. Provide corrections before bad habits set in
  2.     Once the new skill[s] is/are ‘automated (when they can be performed well any time), encourage creations or variations of the skill[s]

*Always emphasize focus and concentration

For Team Sport Coaches

Here are some suggestions for your practice sessions.

The delivery is the same as previously described. The difference is the Main Theme portion to create a more successful training performance and competition preparation.

  1. Brief Introduction of daily objectives (vey brief)
  2. General Warm-up to increase Heart Rate

    • Dynamic moving
    • Dynamic stationary
  3. Warm-up focusing on specific body part used in session
  4. Specific Warm-up for Skill[s] to be learned in that session
  5. Major Theme (Sandwich method: old-new-old)
  6. Review previous skill. It should relate or tie to new skill[s]
  7. Refine previous skill[s] if needed
  8. Introduce new skill #1
  9. Introduce new skill #2

  *Introduce one or two skills maximum for better learning and retention

Divide the Main Theme or Skill Teaching Section into 3 parts

Part 1:

  • Review known skill, introduce new skill 
  • Link to known skill – show the relationship between these skills
  •  Practice new skill using 1/3 of session time

Part 2

  • Practice new skill with delimitations – using 1/3 of time of session time (example: soccer – place pylons to simulate defense positions)

Part 3

  • *Practice new skill without delimitations – full speed and stress  (example: soccer – using offensive and defensive players, full speed) using 1/3 of session time

*  In this section, full speed and game simulation, errors should occur, which can now be addressed and corrected at this time, not at the real game situation! It is too late at that point. In this section, stress-like conditions should be created to observe reactions, emotion, breakdown of basic skills or patterns, etc.

  1. Finish the session by reviewing previous skills already known
  2. Evaluate the Session

Coaching

  • What went well? What needs to be reviewed, re-taught, or refined? Was the plan completed? If not, what was the reason? Are there any changes or modifications needed? Was the communication effective? Were the explanations well defined?

Athletes

  • Did they learn the new skill[s]? Any physical, mental, or technical deficiencies? Focus or concentration issues? Is any refinement of skill[s] necessary?

Here are two forms available for download, which you can use to evaluate your training sessions: 

  1. Coach Evaluation Form
  2. Skill Acquisition Form

With Peanut’s wisdom, my best wishes to you in this upcoming year!

Peanuts Comic about coaching

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>