Last week I was at a Sport NI course and one of the presenters, Dr Edward Coughlan put up a slide that simply stated: ‘The question is the answer. The problem is the solution’.
Then boom; it hit me – that’s what coaching is all about. Asking the right questions, rather than giving your answer, and giving people problems rather than solutions.
If you coach at any level, then I would advise you to really think about this statement; especially in youth coaching.
I’ve been that coach before and unfortunately I still see it happening today.
The coach roars ‘go there’, ‘be here’, ‘run that way’, ‘sit in the hole’.
No wonder the child is confused and if they follow your command, do they know why they did it?
To them, they are just moving because you told them to, rather than learning for themselves.
A better solution is to ask questions. For example; ‘Are you happy standing in that position?’ ‘Is there anywhere else you could go?’ ‘Did you see another pass instead of the one you hit?’.
Whatever they answer, let them think about what they just said before you even give your opinion back. In fact you don’t have to say anything and if the situation arises again, ask the same question.
Either the player will think you’re crazy or start to wonder should he be somewhere different or pick a different option.
If they do this, then they are starting to learn.
To me that’s what coaching is all about. Giving the people you are coaching the opportunities and environments to teach themselves. You are essentially looking to make yourself redundant.
The next step is to give them as many problems to solve as they can, in as many different situations or scenarios.
The next time you set up your session with all your really nice looking drills, where it goes from A to B and C, crosses to the back of the net, then you repeat it again, and again in the same way, ask yourself, are they really solving a problem or just repeating a similar action with no variation?
Instead why not put them in an environment where a drill can break down, have it more game realistic and where the players have to take ownership.
If we train them like robots that’s the way they will play, and that’s not sport.
One of the best ways to add complexity into your session is through people. Humans are very complex and no two humans move the same way. That’s why instead of having hurdles, cones, ladders and any other fancy equipment replace them with people! If you do this, then every time you run a drill it will continually change in some shape or form.
When you really think about this phrase it can relate to so much more than just coaching.
Use it for your own health, fitness and life goals.
Asking the right questions and facing your problems will give you the answers and solutions you want.