Do you know if you are actually being directive or non-directive?

How easy is it when practising non-directive coaching to slip back into directive coaching without even knowing it? How does this happen? And, what impact does this have on our young players?

When we are being non-directive we are following our player’s agenda and when we are being directive we are following our agenda.

Over the many workshops that we have delivered, we have observed a high percentage of coaches (some even high level coaches), slip back into directive coaching without even knowing it.

Pete Farthing and I both delivered a course last Friday at the National Training Centre and we both thought that this was the biggest challenge for the coaches in terms of achieving better results with non-directive coaching.

Below is a short dialogue of the sort of thing that typically happens. This example is with a player who is practising hitting forehands crosscourt with the aim of achieving more depth.

(Coach); ‘What did you notice after you hit those few balls?’

(Player); ‘I noticed that I am using my upper body more now and my contact feels firmer.’

(Coach); ‘Ok, what do you notice the most – your upper body or your firmer contact?’

(Player); ‘I think my contact – it feels much firmer now.’

(Coach); ‘Ok, what do you think about trying to contact the ball more in front on the next few shots?’

In the example above the coach is following the player’s agenda for a while and then switches to their ideas and agenda by asking the player to look at their contact point.

This switch in agendas can be subtle. Some coaches will even argue that they were following the player’s agenda because they asked something about their contact point.

The difference is that the question they asked was a leading question.

Leading questions come from the coach’s agenda and are usually asked because the coach has observed something in the player’s game that they want the player to look at.

With the coach now taking over with his/her agenda there is a risk that the player can become frustrated at not being listened to and this can lead to a lack of focus and a decrease in performance.

Here are some examples of other leading questions;

Example 1.

(Player), I’d really like to work on my backhand today.’

(Coach), ‘Don’t you think it would be a good idea today to spend sometime on your serve?’

Example 2.

(Player), ‘I think the wrist snap is giving me a bit more power.’

(Coach), ‘Why don’t you see if you can use your legs a bit more when you serve?’

Example 3.

(Player), ‘I think I am swinging a bit too fast.’

(Coach), ‘What’s going to help you get more spin? – how about dropping your wrist a bit before contact?’

When a coach switches from the player’s agenda to their own agenda, the player’s commitment to the task is likely to be lower as the questions which were empowering the player have now stopped.

Now compare the dialogue below with the previous example;

(Coach); ‘What did you notice after you hit those few balls?’

(Player); ‘I noticed that I am using my upper body more now and my contact feels firmer.’

(Coach); ‘Ok, what do you notice the most – your upper body or your firmer contact?’

(Player); ‘I think my firmer contact..’

(Coach); ‘Would you like to hit a few balls and tell me where this firmer contact is coming from?’

After the player has hit a few balls, they reply;-

(Player); ‘I think it is coming from my grip…actually yes……it is coming from my wrist’.

In the example above, the coach has followed the player’s agenda all the way by listening and asking open questions. This has allowed the player more time to find out where their attention is focussed leading to an increase in their awareness. The result for the player is that they now own the learning as they discovered it themselves which will lead to an increase in their self-belief.

Following a player’s agenda can be challenging, as Pete and I first experienced when we began learning non-directive coaching skills.

We stuck with it and we got the evidence that it really is a valuable skill to have as a coach. Kids are often more engaged and motivated. The learning is quicker and because it is coming from within the child, it is likely to be more sustainable.

For more information on our online child-centred coaching course, please go to https://coachingkids4selfbelief.com/services-packages/child-centred-coaching-course/

For more information about our workshops, please go to https://coachingkids4selfbelief.com/services-packages/coaching-for-self-belief-workshops/

 

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