The Things Teachers Can Learn from a Coach

I discovered tonight while sitting at my daughter’s volleyball practice that I could learn a lot as a teacher just by paying attention to her coach.  I’m currently reading, “Never Work Harder Than Your Students” – The book focuses on 5 principles that master teachers apply everyday in their classroom that make them master teachers.

1.  Start Where Your Students Are

2.  Know Where Your Students Are Going

3.  Expect to Get Your Students There

4.  Support Your Students

5.  Use Effective Feedback.

Have you ever noticed that coaches do every single one of these things with their players during practice?

For example-

Start Where Your Students Are;  What good would it do the team if the coach only made the players who had the fundamentals down do all the practice?  A master coach knows that not all students come to the game with the desired skills needed to play effectively and win games.  Therefore, he/she helps each player develop those skills by letting them make mistakes but also capitalize on their strengths.  The coach knows where the players are going and breaks down the fundamentals in individual, sequential steps that they need to master in order to apply the objective in different situations and under pressure.  He tells them they have to learn, unlearn, and relearn.  If a player is practicing something wrong, he stops them immediately and gives them effective feedback and has them do it again until they get it right.  I witnessed a young lady struggling with her serve, she attempted 5 or 6 times to get it over the net.  The coach watched, he let her continue to try, he stopped her, showed (not just told) her which step she was doing wrong and showed her how to correct it, had the other players begin to clap for her (support your students) and without fail she hit it over.  Then he had her do it again, and again.  He expects to get the players there and the players know he will stop everything until they can do it – and continue doing it until they have it mastered.  Incredible!

Coaches know this stuff!  They do it, they apply it and their players respect them for it.

Below you can view a clip from last night’s practice.   These girls just began practicing together just over a week ago.  In this short time, the coach has been able to take them from where they were- basic bump, set, bump (free ball) over the net in isolation, to pass, set, attack (learn, unlearn, relearn) and putting the isolated skills together in a bigger picture.  Not until they have this step mastered will he take them to the next step of working as a team of 6 (where he expects them to get).  You will hear him talking them through the steps (effective feedback) and then supporting them with encouragement.

A close friend and colleague recommended that I read  this book over a year ago.  This Christmas break I vowed to read it and now I would like to pass the gift of his recommendation on to you.  I would also challenge you to go watch a practice and see the principles being effortlessly applied.


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