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Shifts in Attention
If we notice that they appear to have lost their focus or seem distracted, it could be that they have noticed something else whilst they have been hitting or maybe they feel that they would like to change their goal. Shifts in attention are quite common when learning a new skill. In this instance we could ask, ‘Where is your attention now?’ or, ‘How are you getting on with your goal of hitting lower backhand slices?’ They might respond with, ‘I am noticing my racket head angle on the downswing’ or, ‘Actually, I think I have achieved my goal now and would like to move on to……’
When a Child says ‘I Don’t Know’
Occasionally, a child will reply, ‘I don’t know’, when asked what would they would like to work on or what would they like to do now. This can be for several reasons;
1. They genuinely don’t know.
2. They are used to being told what to do and therefore it feels strange to be asked for their input.
3. They know, but they are not sure about expressing it for fear that they might be judged or not taken seriously.
Click on this link below to find out how I responded to a child that said, ‘I don’t know’.
Patience is one of the qualities of a child-centred coach. As in the example above, allowing children more time to find out what they would like to work on or are interested in, will send a message that we value them and their input.
When children recognise that their choices won’t be judged as right or wrong by the coach, they are likely to feel safe and more inspired to share their thoughts.
Setting a Realistic Goal
‘We’ve got about 10 minutes left, what would you like to do now?’
‘I’d like to hit a drop shot that bounces 3 times in the service box’
‘How many are you hitting at the moment like that?’
‘What would you like to be able to do in next 10 minutes?’
‘I’d like to do 10!’
Children can sometimes be unrealistic with their goals, as in the example above. Our role as coach is to help them to set a realistic goal which will stretch them, but will not leave them disillusioned or disappointed if they don’t achieve it.
Here are some practical solutions;
- Let them have a go first and see how many they score. If they hit 3/10, then ask them to set their goal based on this. They will be much more likely to be realistic!
- Simply ask them, ‘How realistic is that?’
- Increase their awareness of where they are with their practice now, for example, ‘You’re hitting 3/10 at the moment and I am just wondering if this is realistic given that we only have 10 minutes?’
- Put in place a contingency plan, for example, ‘If you didn’t manage to achieve x, what would you be happy with?’
- If a child is adamant about their goal, you could say, ‘Are you sure?, ‘Would you like to test it out?, ‘We can always change it in a couple of minutes if you want to?’
Creating the Optimum Learning Environment
‘I had to learn to give choices back to the student. Why?
Because the learning takes place within the student.’ – Tim Gallwey.
Asking Questions is not just about finding out information – it’s about giving choice. And Choice leads to increased responsibility and increased self-belief. It can become a key factor in optimising a learning environment – kids become shiny, puffed up, happy, more curious and more focussed. In a way, this is the X-factor of great coaches. If coaches have an X-factor – this is surely one of the key ingredients…..
Furthermore Tim Gallwey states that, ‘
‘The student makes the choices that ultimately control
whether learning takes place or doesn’t.
In the end, I realised that the student was responsible for the learning choices
and I was responsible for the quality of the external learning environment.’