I have been teaching martial arts for 40 years now – and in doing so, have learned a few things about teaching. The reason I think I have something to contribute about teaching is that I have tried to experience each of those 40 years as a year unique into and of itself – rather than just repeating one year after another – in groundhog-day-esque fashion.
By rough calculation I think I have taught around 25,000 classes (consisting of a mix of private lessons, group classes and seminars).
One of the many things I have noticed, in doing teaching experiments, is that through subtle and optimal use of words/phrasing, we can obtain much better results in performance and uptake than we otherwise might have.
I realised a long time ago, that if I throw a ball in basketball, I need to throw it in a direction and at a velocity that allows the person to succesfully catch it … that is my responsibility. If they miss it – it’s MY fault.
In other words, if I am not getting the results I want whilst using the words I am using (even though I may be describing what I want accurately) then I need to change the way I am communicating. No use being right but not getting the outcomes we want.
No doubt some will think this is blatantly obvious; but I would beg to differ; because when I look about me everywhere (particularly in the teaching fields) I am not seeing a lot of evidence that teachers are even aware of how little they are collaborating in the communication process.
Yikes – Danaher-esque … those who don’t like super-long-winded posts will have already bailed. And for those who are intolerant of even the normal variety of long-winded posts – I’ll offer a quick example and then I’ll wind up.
Example of just the first part of shooting a basic double leg …
We might begin our explanation of how we take the shot by explaining how we drop or level-change to get a pre-stretch on our rear leg and get ourselves under a possible over-hand right – then as we are coaching our students through the process, we shrink back to drop and level-change – and as the pace increases and students are hitting all the relevant point, we shrink right down to drop …
So eventually our phrasing shrinks down to small, fast monosyllabic chunks of info e.g.: drop-step-fold-step-up-drive.
If it sounds complicated, it actually isn’t. In law-enforcement for example – when experience a ‘stoppage’ (gun jammed) when firing a weapon – the usual command is something like DROP-TAP-TAP- RACK. This keeps students operating at the ’speed of life’ – but the instruction certainly doesn’t start out that way; rather, it is concise and overly wordy (much like this post).
We go from concise explanation – to short explanation – to single words. Develop this habit, it will serve everyone well. As simple but transformative coaching idea …
PS: Experiment with different words – you will get a wide range of varying results. Find an optimal sequence …. good luck.
PSS: I predict one of the first comments might be something like – better to have outlined your explanation with a paragraph – then a sentence – finally, finishing with a word.