Coaching Action Plan

In this final blog post, I am going to be reflecting on how the past year has gone and then how I can improve myself in the years to come. Throughout the year I have looked at different coaching practices that can be used when coaching athletes, but I have also looked to see if they are equally as effective through analysis. This year has provided me with lots of different theoretical concepts and processes to try out and see which works best with certain athletes, as there is no ‘one size fits all’ when coaching. However, due to the circumstances I haven’t been able to actively put theory into practice yet and have had to do a lot of this through imagination, this is therefore something I want to take forward in both my coaching and analysis work.

Over the second year of university, I wanted to gain more clarity on what I wanted to do with my degree upon its completion. From this I have continued my interest in analysis and this remains an area where I plan to do work in football in the coming years. As well as this, I have enjoyed the few practical coaching sessions that we have had, and this has made me become more interested in progressing through my coaching badges and intern considering coaching as another option for the future, however, I feel like I would be more suited to higher end academy or elite football rather than lower age groups. I would like to be have completed my level 1 and 2 in football by summer 2022. Although there a some questions marks over the effectiveness of the coaching badges, I feel like the workshop content, would go hand in hand with the theoretical concepts learnt from University and therefore lead to my coaching ability increasing massively.

One thing that these blog posts have helped me with this year is regularly reading literature, which is something I previously did not do. I found that it did not only help on the grass but it helps me to understand why I’m doing it, for example in the ‘creating the creative blog’ I didn’t realise how important it was to push the more intelligent players to be at their best and try new things in order to develop. It has also been interesting to see how my course peers have gone about concepts in relation to their own styles of coaching or sports they coach in. Finally, I would like to return to my analysis placement for my third year of university and look to coach or manage an 11 aside team, to test my ability and add to my employability level.

Creating the Creative Players

When studying the term creative, it is hard to pin point certain aspects that define the word. If I was to ask you to name ten things that a creative player should have in their skill set, it would be a struggle and the word ‘creativity’ would be used to describe it also. Despite this, creative has been defined as ‘risk-taking, playfulness, imaginative and intuitive in a particular domain’ (Williamson et al., 2021). When considering the four factors that Williamson states, it would be easy to find individuals that we all know fall into this bracket. An example may be Lionel Messi, who in my opinion, has all those traits within his game and the level of creative is of a noteworthy degree (Guilford,1950).

I believe that creativity is easier to implement into sessions, in the later stages of sport, such as over 16s and the professional game, as it requires more complex scenarios to challenge the thinking of an individual (Memmert, 2011). There are two forms of thinking that are related to creativity; convergent and divergent. Convergent thinking is often referred to as tactical intelligence. This considers the individuals overall problem solving skills when given a certain task (Cropley, 2006). When relating this to a sport, it could be anticipating a pass being played and intercepting it. Divergent thinking also said to be tactical creativity is defined as the level of unusualness, innovativeness or uniqueness of the solution making from an individual (Runco, 1991). An example of this would be a ‘no look pass’ as they are looking in a different direction to where they end up passing or throwing the ball in. Using football as an example, creativity is not just what a player can do when on the ball, it can also be the tactical awareness that they show as well as the work of the ball (Williamson et al., 2021).

Being creative suggests that some level of imagination has to be portrayed, which should then be transferable from coaches to players within training sessions. However, creative coaching must meet certain rules. One particular requirement is that it has to work and improve performance, otherwise it is not worth while doing. As well as this, there should be no limits or boundaries on the level of learning that can be completed, as it only becomes truly creative when there is nothing imposed to stop this. From a coaches perspective, applying creativity to sessions, involves questioning of the athletes they have present. Questioning can give a good gauge of the creativity levels simply from their answer. If it is a detailed answer rather than a one word answer, they are more engaged in the task. Divergent questioning is more appropriate, as it allows for greater levels of thinking, which intern should enhance the athletes understanding and involvement.

As an analyst, it would be important to add creative when delivering feedback to players. This is because it is more likely to help them process more complex information in a game like scenario, for example; ‘imagine you’re in this scenario on the pitch, what runs are you going to make in order to receive the ball and create a chance?’ This would then open up the conversation with the athlete, with hope that they would give their own ideas of how they would approach the scenario. However, as previously stated this approach would only work with certain athletes and would usually rely on the athlete to be more ‘gifted’ in order to perform more creatively (Memmert, 2006). An example of where this would not work, would be when working with younger age groups or less able elders. This would be pointless as hypothetical scenarios would mean nothing to them, due to them not being able to process that information and they would rely greater on being told exactly what they need to do.

Reference List

Cropley, A., 2006. In praise of convergent thinking. Creativity research journal18(3), pp.391-404.

Guilford, J.P., 1950. Creativity. American psychologist5(9).

Memmert D (2006) Developing creative thinking in a gifted sport enrichment program and the crucial role of attention processes. High Ability Studies 17: 101–115

Memmert, D., 2011. Sports and creativity. Encyclopedia of creativity2, pp.373-378.

Runco, M.A., 1991. Divergent thinking. Norwood, NJ: Ablex Publishing Corporation.

Implicit Learning

Implicit learning is an established motor learning technique, and is beneficial to learners as it allows them to perform undisrupted skills, even when they are placed under stress and other adverse conditions, such as; distractions and fatigue (Poolton & Zachry, 2007). This is built on the work of Masters, who explained that implicit learning is ‘ the ability to acquire a skill unconsciously with minimal support such as explicit verbal communication, on how to perform a particular skill’ (Masters, 2002).  A method of making skills easier for athletes to understand, is the inclusion of analogies for acquisition (Liao & Masters, 2001). For example, an analogy that I have used in football is using the word ‘sit’ when talking to the defensive midfielder. This is a term that tells them to not come forward when attacking, but in fact stay back to help defend, in anticipation of a counter attack. The use of analogy is key within coaching, as it allows the individual to break down the steps they need to do, without bombarding them with lots of information. However prior knowledge is needed, in order to use key terms.

As well as this, the four stages of learning need to be achieved before an individual becomes capable of using implicit learning. The model starts at unconscious incompetence, which is the individual not knowing that they don’t know how to do something, this could be simply them never trying this skill before, for example kicking a football. The second stage is conscious incompetence, which is the individual knowing that they don’t know how to do something and it annoys them, for example attempting to kick the ball and they miss. The third step looks at the individual being conscious competence, which is them being able to pass the ball but it takes effort to do so. The final stage of the model is unconscious competence, which is being able to pass the ball with very little effort and it comes as second nature (Howells, 1982).

In Masters SOARED approach, the next two step are result less and error less (Masters,1992). Result less learning is the practice of a skill without knowing the outcome and it is based upon how the ‘feel’ of it is. For example, a goalkeeper in football could be working on their static goal kicks. The focus of the skill is making sure they get the connection in the kick, but at this stage the overall destination of where the pass is going is not within the thoughts of the athlete. Following on from this, is error less learning, which can use the same concept but outcome is required. This outcome could be a manikin being placed on the half way line, and the goalkeeper has to hit that with each kick they do.

However, some limitations to this concept are when considering what age group is being coached. Older athletes or that of the elite level will be able to learn in this was, as they are unconsciously able to complete skills without the need of supervision, meaning it is easier to implement. Younger athletes struggle to implement this learning approach, as they will always rely on some form of supervision in order to make the right decisions. An instance in which this could be implemented would be when wanting to use tactical information. The use of players ‘sitting’, would only be understood by someone who knew what this meant.

When applying this to my role in analysis, it would be beneficial when working with the higher end of the academy. Again, looking at the work of Masters, it is important to give some emphasis on the learner being in charge of identifying their own weaknesses with little support from analysts. As well as this, by the players having an understanding of ‘cue’ words, then the player will be able to use those terms to describe their own performance, rather than waiting for a coach or analyst to give them the feedback. For example knowing what over lapping runs means and then them being applied in a game (Masters, 2002).

Reference List

Fleishman, E.A., 1982. Human Performance and Productivity: Information processing and decision making (Vol. 2). L. Erlbaum Associates.

Liao, C.M. and Masters, R.S., 2001. Analogy learning: A means to implicit motor learning. Journal of sports sciences19(5), pp.307-319

Masters, R.S.W. 1992. Knowledge, Knerves and Know-How: The Role of Explicit Versus Implicit Knowledge in the Breakdown of a Complex Motor Skill Under Pressure. British Journal of Psychology, 83, 343-558.

Poolton, J.M. and Zachry, T.L., 2007. So you want to learn implicitly? Coaching and learning through implicit motor learning techniques. International Journal of Sports Science & Coaching2(1), pp.67-78.

Constructive Alignment

Constructive alignments meaning is split over the two words. The ‘constructive’ aspect of the term, looks at what the learner is doing in the relevant activities. The ‘alignment’ term considers what the teacher or authority figure does in order to set up a work environment for that learner, by giving them activities that are relevant to learning outcomes (Biggs,2003).

As a coach or teacher, we all have our own epistemological beliefs which help to match up how you would nurture an athlete. The decision-making and proposes that construct of an epistemological chain, helps to support this process in this particular environment (Grecic & Collins, 2013).When comparing my own beliefs to how I was going about my own practice, was where I started to wonder if I was aligned myself. For example using the diagram below, I personally feel that a learners knowledge is created by themselves, more than it is from an authority figure. However, I found myself not doing this, I was in fact instructing them on what I believed was the best way to complete a task. For example, using football, if the team were trapped in their own half and the only way out of that scenario, was to hit the ball long but risk losing possession, then that should be done. The players were told to that by me, rather than them learning to do it in another way, that could have retained possession.

I then found myself contradicting my own views and coaching styles, as I felt the learner gains more knowledge doing something themselves, but I was actually coaching them exactly what I wanted to happen in certain scenarios. A piece of research from (Yeom, Miller & Delp, 2018) stated that to construct a liable teaching philosophy, it is important to consider a persons beliefs about the process of teaching and learning and then to become aware of the nuances of key phrases that could change its meaning.

When considering my epistemology, I should be using the the bottom six teaching styles in this diagram (Mosston & Ashworth,1990) However, I found myself using the top three when coaching the athletes to get out of a ‘tight situation’ on a football pitch, which again forced questions on whether I am aligned or not. This then made be consider some limitations to constructive alignment. I felt that is was difficult to align my epistemology and theory at all times, as different age ranges and ability can vary in needs. A study suggested that the use of constructive alignment alongside literature may limit the extent of learning, as it is not always in sync with each other (Croy, 2018).

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Mosston & Ashworth, 1990

When considering alignment, it is important to look at whether it will be a small ‘micro’ or big ‘macro’ task. These terms are used to categorise which type of constructive alignment are going to be used. The term macro looks at the bigger picture and considers the general overview on how a particular task will be completed (Pridham et al.,2015). For example, this may be asking a player how they think they can improve using their weaker foot when passing or shooting. When looking into the ‘micro’ aspect, the process involves planning how this will actually be achieved, whether that involves; tasks, activities or sessions to develop that skill.

With regards to applying this to analysis, I feel like it can be an appropriate concept to align with a coaches epistemological beliefs. As an analyst, you may have your own beliefs, but when working for a team the managers philosophy has to be bought into by everyone around the club, in order for everyone to be aligned. When analysing a player using this alignment strategy, it is vital that you want to be identifying the information that the coaches and manager want to know, for example with a striker, the management staff and analysts will have come up with certain codes that are essential for strikers to achieve in a game. When delivering the feedback, it is important to be aligned with the coaching staff and deliver the same messages as they do to a player.

Reference List

Biggs, J., 2003. Aligning teaching for constructing learning. Higher Education Academy1(4).

Grecic, D. and Collins, D., 2013. The epistemological chain: Practical applications in sports. Quest65(2), pp.151-168.

Mosston, M. and Ashworth, S., 1990. The Spectrum of Teaching Styles. From Command to Discovery. Longman, Inc., 95 Church St., White Plains, NY 10601-1505.

Pridham, B., Martin, D., Walker, K., Rosengren, R. and Wadley, D., 2015. Culturally inclusive curriculum in higher education. The Australian Journal of Indigenous Education44(1), pp.94-105.

Yeom, Y., Miller, M.A. and Delp, R., 2018. Constructing a teaching philosophy: Aligning beliefs, theories, and practice. Teaching and Learning in Nursing13(3), pp.131-134.

An Expert Coach

There are many coaches that are considered to be experts, but what makes them have this title? Is it based on success and experiences or is it simply down to their knowledge and understanding of a particular sport.

In my personal opinion on what an expert coach is and its relation to football, I think that this person would be someone who could get the best out of any team and be able to adapt to different styles of athletes and play effectively. As well as this, I would say that to be an expert you must have a desire to win or develop. An example would be Pep Guardiola, taking a manager role at West Brom or Fulham, who have different objectives to what he is used to, and then him being able to be effective and win games with them. A model that looks at the difference between beginner and elite coaches, shows the extra skills in which are needed in the coaches toolkit. Some of these are transferable skills throughout different professions such as problem solving or planning efficiency. Where as those who are more successful have great levels of knowledge around the area as well as having the ability to think on the spot and change tactics accordingly (Schempp et al., 2006). Coaches are also required to have certain qualifications, with most elite professional football clubs wanting UEFA Pro or A licenses to work for their higher aged teams and UEFA B minimum for foundation teams. However, they can cost large amounts of money which questions is it the best coaches that make the professional game or is it the ones who can afford that qualification?

Due to the increased commercialisation of sport and how results based it has become, there is a greater expectation that coaches or managers can come into a new environment and have an immediate effect. This has meant that the expert coaches have had to add a degree of ‘cutting edge’ to their list of credentials. The term relates to having the ability to be straight up with athletes and then their ability to direct them with give good and relevant advice (Mallet, 2010). However, a coach must surround themselves with other staff and colleagues who will challenge them rather than having lots of ‘yes people’ around. For example Sir Alex Ferguson, would have surrounded himself with people that would have questioned his decisions and offered alternative suggestions, rather than people that just agree with him. The coaches as a team, would continue to make the same mistakes if this was the case. This intern would have made him a better coach as he was able to continuously develop his knowledge by learning from the mistakes he or his team made and then being able to reflect on this, in order to get better. (Nash et al., 2012).

Despite this, not all expert coaches have to work at the highest level. Some coaches could be just as experienced and qualified, but they may prefer working at the foundation, youth stage or even grassroots within sports. The term ‘expert’ could be considered to be them passing on the correct knowledge to the younger athletes and them going onto be successful. In some sense, coaches that run sport sessions for toddlers, should be considered to be experts, as they are experienced in coaching that age group. Those children may be taught skills at that age that twenty years down the line have given them a professional sporting career.

Overall, I feel that the three key components that make up an expert coach, are a blend of knowledge and experiences as well as people skills or in some sports it would be classed as ‘person management.’ I think knowledge and experiences go hand in hand to work on decision making, which is what I believe, defines an expert coach. A study that focused on a surgeon, stated that they could have been taught everything they need to know about the profession, but it is in their hands, when it comes to the decisions they make during an operation (Ericsson, 2007). This is then a transferable skill as decision making is ultimately what defines success and therefore allows coaches to be considered as an ‘expert.’

Reference List

Ericsson, K.A., Prietula, M.J. and Cokely, E.T., 2007. The making of an expert. Harvard business review85(7/8), p.114.

Mallett, C.J., 2010. Becoming a high-performance coach: Pathways and communities. Sports coaching: Professionalisation and practice, pp.119-134.

Nash, C., Martindale, R., Collins, D., & Martindale, A. (2012). Parameterising expertise in coaching: Past present and future. Journal of Sports Sciences, 30(10), 985-994. 

Schempp, P.G., McCullick, B.A., Busch, C.A., Webster, C. and Mason, I.S., 2006. The self-monitoring of expert sport instructors. International Journal of Sports Science & Coaching1(1), pp.25-35.

Non-Linear Pedagogy

Non linear pedagogy is a paradigm for understanding human movement and for designing teaching approaches that could teach sport skills in a more effective way (Chow et al., 2015). It considers three principles; Variability in practice, Representative Learning Designs and Simplifying tasks.

Variability is where the practice is changed in order to differ the same skills. For example coaching a ‘throwing and catching drill’ can become boring, but by adding different size of balls it would require the participants to think about the suitable way in which to throw and catch that particular object. Some people will easily catch a tennis ball in one hand but some people may need to use both, neither are incorrect, as they have caught the ball. Motor skills are massively impacted by movement variability, which allows the performer to gain more experience in a skill (Schmidt, 1975).

Representative learning designs happens when the coach guides the participants to play and learn, whilst partaking in realistic game scenarios. For example in a football drill, rather than asking the athletes to dribble in and out of cones, you could ask them to take on another participant, which makes them think in more detail, as the constraint is able to move. This can then be placed into game scenarios, which each athlete will have a different approach to overcoming a task, as well as improving motor skills (Renshaw et al., 2007).

Simplifying tasks is important as it allows the learner to focus more on getting the overall understanding of a skill, rather than mastering it straight away (Chow, 2010). Pedagogy allows more space for collaboration on how to complete tasks and that there are a number of different ways in which to do so. As a coach a way in which you could do this is by showing the task in a vague way, so you are not telling them it has to be done in a certain way. This aspect of pedagogy focuses on asking the participant questions, in order for them to think about how to complete the skill or task in hand (Renshaw et al., 2010). As stated before, the coach should encourage the participants to learn together and try out different peoples suggestions, rather than just sticking to one. For example, in rounders, when batting you could hit the ball in three ways; an underarm action, side on or aim to hit the ball to the ground.

As a coach it is vital that pedagoy is included when planning and delivering sessions. It ensures that there is a framework for players, and where the learner need to be in real game scenarios (Chow, 2010). Another key factor to NP is that it challenges different behaviours and movements from participants, through constraints, which can decipher task and ego lead individuals (Chow, 2013). However, some negatives to this practice are that it may not allow all three aspects to be at its optimum. For example, if the focus of a session is variability, then that is going to massively hinder the simplicity of that task. Despite this, non-linear pedagogy is a more than effective way to develop an athlete and it makes sure they are kept interested and engaged in tasks (Chow, 2015). For my work in analysis, pedagogy can be used in a similar sense to a coach, for example when providing a framework for the players to use when watching their footage back. It can also decipher the task or ego lead players from the team and challenge them to pick out areas of weakness or strengths in their performances.

Reference List

Chow, J.Y., 2010. Insights from an emerging theoretical perspective in motor learning for physical education. In Sport science and studies in Asia: Issues, reflections and emergent solutions (pp. 59-77).

Chow, J.Y., 2013. Nonlinear learning underpinning pedagogy: evidence, challenges, and implications. Quest65(4), pp.469-484.

Chow, J.Y., Davids, K., Button, C. and Renshaw, I., 2015. Nonlinear pedagogy in skill acquisition: An introduction. Routledge.

Renshaw, I., Chow, J. Y., Davids, K., & Hammond, J. (2010). A constraints-led perspective to under-standing skill acquisition and game play: A basis for integration of motor learning theory and physical education praxis? Physical Education and Sport Pedagogy, 1–21

Schmidt, R.A., 1975. A schema theory of discrete motor skill learning. Psychological review82(4), p.225.

The Female Athlete

I thought it would be interesting to look at a potential grey area in sport, by focusing on the female athletes involvement in sport; comparison to a male, the ‘female athlete triad’ and then the difference in pay or opportunity when they reach elite sport. There are many factors that can affect a females participation in sport and in this blog some areas will be explored. With regards to participation levels, according to official House of Commons statistics, 63% of men were active in sport compared to 58% of women, based on the Active Lives Survey data for year ending May 2017. On this particular document, it also stated that more than half of women who took part in the survey, preferred to do some from of fitness activity, such as; walking or gym sessions, rather than sport specific exercise (Audickas, 2017).

When considering the difference between the two genders in performance, it is key to know that the technical, tactical, social and psychological factors are the same for males and females. The only difference is the physical aspect. This does not mean all women are weaker than men, as this would not be a true statement, however there is research to suggest that females are genetically less physical than males. For example, men tend to have 66% more muscle than a women in the upper body and 50% more muscle in the lower body (Finlay, 2020). The physical aspect alone, is the sole reason there is different events for male and females.

(Skraba,2016)

In the table above, it shows a list of male and female world records and then the difference between the scores in a percentage. As stated earlier, there is a clear indication of the physical differences in both the cardiovascular events and then the power events. Research shows that men have larger vital organs than females, meaning a larger amount of oxygenated blood can be distributed around the body, as well as having higher haemoglobin stores, which gets this to muscles quicker and more efficiently (Finlay, 2020).

The Female Athlete Triad (Hoch et al., 2009)

In the diagram above, the ‘female athlete triad’ is a medical condition that is observed in physically active females. The three areas consist of low energy availability, which can be affected by eating disorders or not, menstrual cycle dysfunction, and low bone density. Firstly, an area in which I know can affect females massively is the low energy availability. This comes from a lack of eating and not achieving the necessary calorie intake to be productive each day. Some women, feel an urge to look a certain way in their bodies and this can cause them to take drastic measures in order to do so, in some circumstances, making themselves physically sick to lose weight. Another aspect that links too low energy is fatigue. This interlinks with the menstrual cycle as fatigue can be a common side effect when a woman comes on her period. For those females who suffer from irregular periods, which gets instigated by low oestrogen levels, can lead to lower bone mineral density. This is why conditions like osteoporosis or risk of stress fractures, are often associated with this (Hoch et al., 2009). When considering the sports that this triad occur most frequently in, are those of which females are expected to promote leanness, such as gymnastics and dancing. As a coach or practitioner there is a duty of care to ensure that all athletes in a session are safe and well enough to train, which in some cases women aren’t, leading to each of these sections being kicked into place.

Finally, motivation to be a professional athlete has to be massive, and requires vast amounts of dedication, with the 10,000 hours theory being considered as a highly true concept (Ericsson, 1996). However, a key aspect for pursuing a career as an athlete, is the chance of winning money or silverware, or for olympic athletes its the chance of getting gold medals or world records. Considering money, in some sports there is a massive difference in both pay and prize money between males and females. In the US, it is reported that annual earnings for women are about 19% lower than those of men (Bureau of Statistics, 2012). In a comparison between arguably the best male and female footballer at Tottenham Hotspurs, it shows that Alex Morgan earns a weekly salary of £64,820 where as Harry Kane earns weekly salary of £200,000. This suggest that Kane is paid more than three times the amount than Morgan, but why is this? The simple answer it is down to revenue. According to Statistia.com the Premier League brought in approximately 3 billion pounds during the 2018/19 season from broadcasting, 1.4 billion in commercial and sponsorship, followed by a match day revenue of 683 million pounds. In comparison. As well as this, there is a prize gap difference of 21 million pounds between males and females, meaning that the prize money received by an average male footballer is nearly 40 times higher than a female (Insure4sport, 2018). This lack of financial gain in the females game as well as the bodily changes women could limit their passion to succeed in sports. As an analyst, I feel it would be important to know this information as it could benefit performance. By watching the game or event, it could be apparent that an athlete was suffering from some issues that women encounter, therefore it would be beneficial to know what feedback to give and when to say it.

Reference List

Audickas. L., 2017 Sports participation in England Available at: http://www.parliament.uk/commons-library [Accessed 8 December 2020]

Ericsson, K.A., 1996. The acquisition of expert performance: an introduction to some of the issues.

Hoch, A. Z., Pajewski, N. M., Moraski, L., Carrera, G. F., Wilson, C. R., Hoffmann, R. G.,et al. (2009). Prevalence of the female athlete triad in high school athletes and sedentary students. Clinical Journal of Sport Medicine, 19(5), 421e428

Insure4sport.co.uk. 2018. The UK’S Attitudes Towards Women In Sport – Insure4sport Blog. [online] Available at: https://www.insure4sport.co.uk/blog/the-uks-attitudes-towards-women-in-sport/ [Accessed 8 December 2020].

Skraba, Z.P., 2016 Women’s World Records Compared Against Men’s World Records in Track & Field. Available at: https://zigapskraba.com/2016/09/15/womens-world-records-compared-against-mens-world-records-in-track-field/ [Accessed 8 December 2020].

https://www.statista.com/topics/755/uk/ [Accessed 8 December 2020].

Blocked v Random

Motor learning skills are vital when it comes to skill transfer and long-term retention. Skills are acquired using specific techniques and are refined through great levels of repetition (Croce & DePaepe, 1989). It is said by psychologists that random practice increases the long term skill retention significantly more than that of blocked practice (Carpenter, 2001). Within coaching there are two main types of practice; Blocked and Random.

Blocked practice is done when an athlete performs a single skill multiple times with repetition being the key aspect to it. The amount of variety in training is nonexistent.  The learner then moves on to practice another skill in the same way, for example a type of skill that is done in this way, is putting in golf. The practice would look very drilled, as they would simply putt from the same place for certain number of shots, regardless as to whether the hole the shot. This type of practice is commonly used when an individual is first learning a skill or when someone is wanting to perform a skill more consistently. A key area that separates this from other practices, is the levels of contextual interference. This is a learning phenomenon where interference occurs during practice that is beneficial to skill learning, in blocked practice, the levels are very low, as it is simply performing the skill rather than doing the skill in a game environment (Shea & Morgan, 1979). Some factors that would make ‘putting’ have higher interference would be taking shots from different distances, the weather and then at elite level there will be a crowd which could make noise whilst executing a shot. Blocked practice leads to better execution of particular skills in training sessions, however it leads to a false sense when applying this in games, as they have not been exposed to constraints, with this being the key limitation (Fazeli et al., 2017).

Despite this, in random practice, learners work on a number of different skills in combination with each other and they are randomly working on different trials and patterns. This practice gives the learner more meaningful memories of the various tasks by increasing memory strength and its relation to the sport in competition (Goode and Magill, 1986). For example, following on with golf, this practice would allow them to ‘putt’ the ball until they got it in the hole and then they would be able to move onto the next task, which could be putting from a different distance or on a green with different terrain. The random element of an activity forces the learner to be alert at all times, as anything could happen and they need to make sure that they do not fall into a repetitive routine. Random practice challenges the learners cognitive and motor skills to deal with the contextual interference of each task and enable them to develop the skill level and retention (Schmidt & Wisberg, 2008). Random conditions result in a much less skilled or ‘ugly’ performance than blocked conditions with regards to acquisition, however random-practice produce a greater level of learning and understanding, (Shea & Morgan, 1979).

As football is my main sport, I would look to use more blocked based practice when coaching youth footballers, as this enables them to practice a skill until they become almost perfect by doing this. This is important as it gives them the fundamental skills in order to progress through the sport. However, you could argue this would not be as effective as being spontaneous. This is because a session that has them alert at all times, will keep children more engaged and likely to complete tasks, rather than switching off, as they are doing the same task over and over (Carpenter, 2001). Random practice will be better in higher youth groups and adult football, as the practice is better for skill retention and looks to focus more on game situations, essentially producing a ‘mock’ fixture or event (Shea & Morgan, 1979). As I do not regularly coach, I would aim to focus my attention on the performance age range of football and would therefore take a more random practiced approach, as I feel learners will retain the skills better when using a game situation rather than just repeating the drill over and over. Due to my personal beliefs, I feel that learning to play in matches rather than just completing drills, is much more beneficial for performance, as it trains the athlete more skills at once.

Reference List

Carpenter, S. (2001). A blind spot in motor learning.  APA Monitor: 32(6), p. 62.

Croce, R. and DePaepe, J., 1989. A critique of therapeutic intervention programming with reference to an alternative approach based on motor learning theory. Physical & occupational therapy in pediatrics9(3), pp.5-33.

Fazeli, D., Taheri, H. and Saberi Kakhki, A., 2017. Random versus blocked practice to enhance mental representation in golf putting. Perceptual and motor skills124(3), pp.674-688.

Goode, S. and Magill, R.A., 1986. Contextual interference effects in learning three badminton serves. Research quarterly for exercise and sport, 57(4), pp.308-314.

Shea, J.B. and Morgan, R.L., 1979. Contextual interference effects on the acquisition, retention, and transfer of a motor skill. Journal of Experimental psychology: Human Learning and memory, 5(2), p.179-187

Schmidt, R. A. &  Wisberg, C. A.  (2008).  Motor Learning and Performance: A Situation-based Learning Approach. Human Kinetics Publishers.

Role Framing and Impression Management

Following on from the previous blog, I thought it would be good to consider the ways in which a coach communicates with their players and how it appears to others, in relation to their professional role and the impression that this gives off. In my opinion these two areas consider the different environments a coach may be in and how people may view them. For example, as previously mentioned in the last post, the more animated managers during a game wouldn’t act like that at a children’s match or in a press conference and this is down to them considering the climate and the ‘impression’ this gives of them.

Firstly, I am going to explore role framing and how it is applied. This theory looks at how individuals, in specific social positions, are perceived to act and then how they expect other individuals to act (Hindin, 2007). In youth sport or grass roots, the coach has to adopt many different roles, when in training or on game days. These roles may involve being a coach, medic or playing the role of a parent in some circumstances, so it is vital for the individual to know which persona to switch into. This can work well in these climates as gaining results are not as important as they are in professional sports, hence why these teams have different people to carry out different jobs. This is due to ‘role retreat’ and this explores the idea that one person will not be able to commit one hundred percent to a role for a number of reasons, some of which being; time restraints, role preference and then overload (Millslagle and Morley, 2004).

When considering impression management, which is said to be the ‘goal directed task of controlling or regulating information, in order to influence the impressions formed by an audience’ it is vital that a coach or practitioner looks the part (Schlenker, 2000). There are many aspects which instigate an individuals impression on another, some of which are; their appearance, manners, voice/tone and then on a more personal basis the things they like or dislike. With regards to the appearance, it could be both down to how they wear their clothes and then also how they look after themselves.

However, there are some issues with this. As stated in the previous blog about communication, impressions can be made based on how animated a coach may be from the side of a pitch, rather than the actual quality of the information they are delivering. Some may appear to be shouting in aggressive tones but this doesn’t always mean it is negative feedback. A study conducted on a group of football coaches throughout different age groups showed how each manager of a team appeared on the touchline (Chesterfield et al., 2010). A manager that appeared in the study suggested that he chose to act like the rest of the coaches, so he didn’t appear to be different and risk losing his job. Where another manager said that he would shout even if there was no importance to the message, he just wanted people to see that he was ‘coaching and correcting a player.’ This helps draw conclusions on beliefs that people feel a need to act in certain ways in order to not be different rather than having their own styles.

For me in analysis, the impression you give out to players would be different to the manager or coaches, simply because of the nature of the information you are delivering. I believe that by giving a good impression to players and staff, will enable them to accept your opinion and knowledge in a better way. If you were to deliver presentations whilst looking unclean and with poor manners, the team are more likely to be disengaged, where as if you appeared presentable and use professional language, the view of the analyst will be accepted and the presentation or feedback will be more engaging. It is important that you show clear understanding of how to improve the athlete and that you can deliver the same message as the coaching team based upon your observations (Carling, 2007). Some players have a negative impression on analysts, and do not feel they are as knowledgable as some coaches in the sport. This is because in some sports the analyst simply just films and codes the game, and does not get involved in team meetings, as the footage is sent to the coach, for them to make judgments on. Therefore the analyst is neglected from the coaching process and this would have an impact on the impression from a player, in the terms of them not being able to see the knowledge that can be given to them.

Reference List

Chesterfield, G., Potrac, P. and Jones, R., 2010. ‘Studentship’and ‘impression management’in an advanced soccer coach education award. Sport, Education and Society15(3), pp.299-314.

Hindin, M.J., 2007. Role theory. The Blackwell encyclopedia of sociology.

Millslagle, D. and Morley, L., 2004. Investigation of role retreatism in the teacher/coach. The Physical Educator61(3).

Schlenker, B.R. and Pontari, B.A., 2000. The strategic control of information: Impression management and self-presentation in daily life.

Wright, C., Carling, C. and Collins, D., 2014. The wider context of performance analysis and it application in the football coaching process. International Journal of Performance Analysis in Sport14(3), pp.709-733.

How do managers communicate with their players during games?

Following on from the discussion of the coaches role during a game, in the previous lesson, I thought it would be interesting to explore how they communicate with their players throughout a game and the different ways of this being done.

In the photo above is Burnley manager Sean Dyche, motivating his players during a game – as seen by him applauding their efforts.

I have been a Burnley fan for as long as I can remember, and Dyche has been in charge for eight seasons, so I observed his pitch side antics over a number of years and how he delivers his messages. Unlike some other team sports, the sheer size of the pitch makes it almost impossible to communicate in a normal way, which means it requires managers to have the ability to use hand gestures or raise their voices to instruct the players on the far side of the pitch.

Obviously given the current climate of football, and there are no fans in the stadiums currently and it means their messages can be heard clearer. However, this could be a pitfall as most managers and players thrive off the supporters reactions. For example, the fans that sit behind the dugouts, can somewhat impact the instructions managers give out. This could be as simple as a supporter saying ‘get forward’ and the manager agreeing with the statement made.

Some managers have different styles; Dyche, Guardiola, Klopp, just to name a few are very vocal themselves and are constantly in their technical areas bellowing out information to their players. Despite this Roy Hodgson takes a different approach, and he sits down and observes whilst allowing his assistant manager to do this vocal role, which makes me assume Roy will do the talking at half time in a more conversation based discussion, and most probably get the point across more effectively and the relationship to be two ways. Does this mean there is a right and wrong way to communicate with players or is is based on individuals approaches (Aly, 2014). I believe that managers have different styles of coaching in order to get the best out of their players and this will have been achieved by them trying out different approaches to different individuals, in order to find out the optimum response and then also reflect on previous experiences with other players.

A study on vocal use in sports management, which focused on the Irish premier league, found that the way in which a manager uses certain tones, can generate different responses. There were four results that got drawn from the study, but the one which stands out in relation to communication to players, is that it is said to be essential that the managers voice is heard to fulfil high performance levels and to motivate the group. Whilst a participant stated “its vital for us as players to hear the manager if he can see something is not going correctly.” (O’Neil and McMenamin, 2014)

When considering how I would communicate as an analyst, I would take more of a Roy Hodgson approach. This is because I feel that in this role, you have the responsibility to provide reassuring feedback to a player in order to help them improve and I don’t feel, upon reflection of a game, that shouting or being animated is the correct approach for this, as the players may not be in the correct mindset to receive this information. As well as that, the analyst is not the manager of the team, so they would not have the authority to use certain tones with the players and this could lead to a depletion in respect from them

With regards to how this would look, it would depend on the managers requests as to what feedback they thought would be important, for example; if it was individual or in ‘units.’ The FAs Coach Decision Making Model, looks at ‘the who’s, the what’s and the how’s’ in the approach to take, in relation to their development and progression (Abraham et al., 2013). If I was to approach a player on an individual basis, I would make sure the environment was correct to do so. It is key that you learn the personality of the player and how they receive feedback best. Some players may like to sit in a formal office environment, whereas some players may prefer to be in a more relaxed environment such as; having a drink or whilst eating. It is vital to make sure the feedback is short and formative, so the player remains engaged and remembers the points that needed addressing (Wright et al., 2013). When looking at doing feedback to units, the information must be equally as short and formative, but it would be key to instigate discussion between them in order to make sure they are all on the same wavelength. Most importantly it is essential that the players trust your view and opinion as this relationship is integral to successful performances and will enable them to be more open and honest with you (Court et al, 2004).

This leads me onto my next blog which will consider the different ways of role framing and the consideration of impression management.

Reference List

Abraham, A., Morgan, G., North, J., Muir, B., Duffy, P., Allison, W. and Hodgson, R., 2013, May. Task analysis of coach developers: Applications to the FA youth coach educator role. In Proceedings of the 11th International Conference on Naturalistic Decision Making (NDM 2013) (pp. 21-24).

Aly, E.R., 2014. Communication management among athlete and coaches. European Scientific Journal.

O’Neill, J. and McMenamin, R., 2014. Voice use in professional soccer management. Logopedics Phoniatrics Vocology39(4), pp.169-178.

Wright, C., Atkins, S., Jones, B. and Todd, J., 2013. The role of performance analysts within the coaching process: Performance Analysts Survey ‘The role of performance analysts in elite football club settings.’. International journal of performance analysis in sport13(1), pp.240-261.