As many of my friends and colleagues know I am a big soccer (i.e. football) fan. Love the game and love thinking about teaching the game… because I find it fascinating, because my kids all play, and because there’s always vice versa- Thinking about how the things I’ve learned about teaching from observing classrooms do or don’t apply in training often provides further insights.
A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of doing a couple of workshops for coaches affiliated with the US Soccer Federation. I spent an afternoon with an elite group of technical directors from top clubs and then three days with A and B license instructors, most of whom were also coaches of top programs or college teams. To state the obvious it was fun, fascinating and humbling. The people in that room are one of the reasons I love the game so much– it’s full of people who are insightful and passionate and even after making it to the top of their field are still hungry to learn. I hope i was able to share some useful insights about what teaching looks like on the soccer field; I definitely learned a lot about it from them.
Anyway, I tried to put together a coaching rubric for the workshop- A one-pager you could keep on your clipboard to help you think about the quality of teaching when observing or developing a coach. I identified six important areas in which they could help coaches “teach” well.
Check for Understanding was one. It’s the hardest challenge of teaching–making sure students are learning what you are teaching. As a result there are of course practices where the players get it wrong for most of the drill and the coach doesn’t notice. Result: players practice doing it wrong and get better at doing it wrong. Let the coach who hasn’t had that happen stand now and take a bow….
Another was the presence of Systems and Routines to ensure that down times and transitions lasted the absolute minimum and that the coach had a healthy obsession with efficiency.
There’s a bit in there on Structure and Design— a reminder that “getting it right is the mid-point of mastery” i.e. that to really be skilled at something you can’t stop practicing when players get it right once or twice. You want them, to paraphrase one of my son’s coaches, not just to be able to do it right but to be able to do it right every time, while thinking of something else. That means a lot of repetition in a variety of situations.
My favorite point on the rubric is the idea of “Success Points,” that is, to me a great coach always knows what excellence in versus mere completion of an activity looks like. He or she sets players to work after having described and modeled not just know how to do it, but how to do it at the highest quality.
So..here’s my rubric: Criteria for Quality Instruction at Training.Revised.
Please know that this is an early draft, which I’m posting as much to get feedback on as to be useful. So, coaches, please feel encouraged to weigh in: Does it help you to assess teaching quality among coaches you observe? In your own work? What could be better? What could I add or drop? Is there a better way to structure it? How does it work for sports other than football/soccer?
Looking forward to your thoughts!