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Coaching Tips

Recipes: For Pea Soup and Improvement

I just saw an article that began with the words “Here is a simple recipe for pea soup.”

Normally, that would not have meant much to me, but since I am a coach who is trying to teach others how to coach, the word “simple”really stood out.

Just the other day, I saw a coach who had forgotten about simplicity. This coach was using a drill that was so complicated neither the athletes nor the other coaches could accomplish much.

“Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent,” said Einstein. “It takes a touch of genius — and a lot of courage — to move in the opposite direction.”

When you make the drills too complex, athletes waste their mental energy learning the drill instead of trying to acquire skill. Complex drills can lead to frustration and wasted time. They can de-motivate instead of motivate.

Dr. K. Anders Ericsson, whose paper “The Role of Deliberate Practice in the Acquisition of Expert Performance” lays out the conditions for optimal learning, specifically mentions the structure of drills.

“The design of the task should take into account the preexisting knowledge of the learners so that the task can be correctly understood after a brief period of instruction,” the article says.

“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication,” said Da Vinci.

So whether you’re trying to make pea soup or planning a practice, or making New Year’s Resolutions, keep it simple.

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TotalGamePlan offers Winner’s Workshops for schools, sports teams and businesses. The emphasis is on motivation, skill-building and teamwork. To bring a Winner’s Workshop to your group, just email coachtully@totalgameplan.com or call (973) 800-5836.


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