Practice Design Principles for Sport

September 20, 2013 — 1 Comment

I was blessed recently to have the company of respected coaching scientist Mark Upton in my first ever Live “Coaches Corner” Online Web Broadcast, that went to air on my KickCoaching You Tube Channel

Mark has worked in the high performance environment of sport for well over a dozen years, with much success in coach development through teaching best practice methods and processes in a variety of sports.

You see there are so many key principles that underpin and determine the success of any sport coaching program. I have had the pleasure collaborating with Mark and apply many of the elements you will read here, in my own coaching. These principles are “evidence based” and cross all boundaries. Let’s assume that by reading this, that you are a rugby coach. Regardless of what level of competition you position yourself, the following key points will make a massive difference to your coaching.

But be warned, “What seems easy to do, also may be considered easy not to do”…

*At the bottom of the page is the full (29min) recorded version of the discussion, but here are some summary points:

Let’s set the scene…

“Most practice sessions are set up for immediate success, not learning”

Bang, yep that’s right. Think about your sessions or those you observe..Many rugby coaches are looking for perfect execution outcomes at training and think this would play out in a match.

Week in, week out the focus is narrow. Often these “drills” are repetitive, like an actor rehearsing lines for a stage show. It’s also incredible, even at senior age rugby, how many coaches still instruct players where to position themselves and when to make decisions. I think you get my point, because you see this often.

But is this “immediate success” helping any player (or coach) long term? As well as potentially creating ‘ feedback dependence’ this has no positive effect on long term development. Fact.

What I’m talking about is called “Retention”. As a coach you must create, foster and facilitate an environment of ongoing learning.
Players will improve game awareness, decision making and overall skill execution if practice activities promote retention…..

This means we need to be more geared towards creating activities, including modified games, that more closely match the demands of the game itself. After all “Technique + Pressure = Skill”.

Ultimately we are looking for the acquisition and transfer of any skills to the match environment, and modified games, via guided discovery is the most productive way forward.

Remember….Learning is messy! So results may not, actually they WON’T appear immediately, but you are building foundations of adaptability that will serve them when required in the future..

Here are some other interesting points from the interview with Mark:

**Practice Variability….

Utilising the “constraints” of *player, *environment and *task (in practice) to guide learning and improved performance for players at all levels of competition.

**Instruction and Feedback….

“Let the player figure it out”. A player centred approach (utilising questioning and identification of true coachable moments), towards guided discovery.

Coaching cues that promote an ‘external’ focus, as opposed to an ‘internal’ focus, are more effective in skill development and transfer. Simplified, you may consider the difference between instruction that looks inside or outside the body. Often, as I use in my coaching, Analogies are a great way to direct focus of attention without a player becoming too interested in individual body movements.

There is much more contained in the video below. I highly recommend you save this to your youtube favourites as reference material. Be sure to look out for my next “Coaches Corner” Live Interview in the next few weeks…




By Stuart Lierich

Trackbacks and Pingbacks:

  1. Coaching Matters: Around the Web September 2013 | Underground Athletics - October 4, 2013

    […] Practice design principles for sport […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s