May 25

Tools For Planning The Effective Daily Training Session

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Examine the Figure below and check the Information against your Planning considerations. Maybe you overlooked some factors – you may want to reconsider for the future Practice Sessions


Diagram for sport practice planning

Given the principles and concepts discussed prior, let’s now focus on the Daily Lesson or Training Plan. There are numerous formats circling in the coaching community. Why do we need to justify this coaching activity?

  • First, Lesson/Training Plans are kept in a file and are instrumental documents to demonstrate professional responsibility.
  • Second, any parent or administrator questioning the daily training has proof of ‘what went on.’ For example: one of my parents stated that the swimmer learned ‘Nothing’ on a given day. My detailed lesson plan proved the opposite, and the parent apologized.
  • Third, I had to serve on a court jury for a gymnastics accident. The coach had a sloppy, minimal training plan; the skill level of the gymnast was not up to par to the new skill; the physical requirement for the new skill did not exist; several safety precautions were not outlined in the Organizational Chart (Refer to my Training Plan). The case resulted in a 1.3 million dollar ruling. This may have resulted in a different outcome if consideration was given to the above factors. By the way, several years ago there were 58 serious accidents in gymnastics in a certain US State – only 18 were proven to be unavoidable – all other were attributed to above mentioned factors, i.e. negligence.
  • I always carry a personal binder with the Annual, Weekly, Daily Plans. If a parent wants to sit and observe a given practice (I do permit this but away from the Pool Deck), he/she she/he can follow along with the provided Plan. Motto: “You get what You see.”
  • I have the Annual Plan super enlarged, laminated in Plastic, and posted on the pool wall. Since all training cycles and phases are shown, I can point out the respective day/week/month for that training session. Believe me, parents are impressed, especially business fathers.

I have designed a specific Worksheet for this purpose, which I am sharing with you. Just enter your email address to get them sent to your inbox.


Evaluation the Coach and Coaching Staff

The last part of “Effective and Successful Teaching/Coaching is the Evaluation by an outside Expert or Coach Mentor. When the word ‘Evaluation’ is usually mentioned, coaches tend to ‘freak out’ because many interpret this as a personal vendetta or threat to job security. In the business circles, many companies evaluate staff every 6 months to advance and improve production. I consider this process to be one that actually helps to better instruction/teaching/learning/training. Coach evaluation is based on specific criteria (Refer to the Evaluation Form), and requires subsequent feedback, which needs to be positive, meaningful, and constructive. The points or qualities of the Coach that are outstanding, excellent, or good are highlighted. Those, needing improving are discussed, and appropriate recommendations have to be provided.

By the way: in my interaction, I never use the term “Why did you do that? This was bad!” Instead I ask: “Give me an explanation for this…Or …You did this because…. Here, the Coach has to think and analyze his/her intent, action, or process, and is less intimidated, afraid, demoralized, or defensive than when someone barks… Why in the h… did you do that? I highlight the outstanding qualities of the session and discuss those, which need upgrading

Incidentally, I surprised people on personal job interviews – when asked to state my strength and weaknesses… I always replied ‘weaknesses?’ I have points I continue to work on – not weaknesses. This is a positive way of looking at oneself!

There are important aspects in the delivery of the training session, namely the actual ‘busy’ time of athletes – i.e., being actually engaged. Many a time, this does not follow the so-called 80-20 rule, which means athletes need to be physically involved 80 percent of the time. The other 20 percent entail giving instructions, corrections, changing equipment, etc. (i.e. the managing of the session). Additionally, educational experts state that instructions have to be short, precise, to the point … and no longer than 20 words!! Test yourself on that!! Otherwise, short attention span comes into ‘play’ and expected drill or movement performance is affected due to lack of listening.

I have observed the common 60-40 percent relationship in my coaching visits. One of the worst offenders tends to be line-up at the Uneven Bars or Vaulting apparatus in gymnastics, or the practice of Starts and Turns in swimming. The same applies to Team Sports. Coaches have to create complimentary drill or circuit stations to keep everyone busy instead of waiting around, which lead usually to discipline issues.

The problem in Professional Sports, especially hockey, is the fact that former players become Coaches – which does not necessarily qualify them automatically as ‘good coaches’ (Example: Wayne Gretzki was a superb player but not a good coach). Many a times, these coaches engage in ‘traditional practices of the past’ – the way they were coached!’ I observed a session whereby the coach came into the rink; players had supposedly warmed up prior; he sat them down for 22 minutes (I timed – obviously, the heart rate goes down, muscles get cold, injuries can occur); then he blasted them for the ‘lousy, sh…. previous day game performance, continuously using inappropriate language! He then proceeded with 25 wind sprints at full effort, whereby quite a few players began to vomit on Ice. He violated every physiological training principle… No Rest… AHA… But …the principle of “No Pain – No Gain! Welcome to NHL Hockey! And player motivation!

When looking at the Evaluation Form, Criteria and Categories are self-explanatory.


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