Coaching others to coach
Coaching others to coach

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4 How should you plan an observation?

In the next activity you will explore how one coach developer plans her approach to observation. As you undertake the activity reflect on why planning an observation is important.

A photograph of a coaching session.
Figure 5 Planning an observation: a vital ingredient in the observation process

Activity 4 Planning and observation

Timing: Allow about 20 minutes

Watch the following video of a basketball coach and make notes on the following:

  1. What do you consider was effective about the actions taken by the coach developer?
  2. How would you improve the planning of this process including any interaction in the days before the session?
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Video 3
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Discussion

  1. The coach developer greets the coach and reflects on the feedback provided from a previous session. The conversation then turns towards the current session and the coach developer invites the coach to highlight what aspects of her coaching she would like feedback on – this is a really strong feature of good practice. This dialogue, however, seems to have occurred just before the session began; it can often be difficult to have a constructive conversation at this point.
  2. Perhaps it would be better to interact a day or two before the session. This would provide more time to discuss the observation and it will give the coach developer a better chance to plan the collection of appropriate information. For example, in the video the coach was asking for input on the extent to which she herself provided feedback to individual participants. Knowing this in advance the coach developer could have prepared an observation form that collects this information, perhaps supplemented with some form of unobtrusive video capture. A list of the players showing tally marks against each time feedback was provided to each player would be illuminating, perhaps with notes of the nature of feedback given on the form.

    We don’t know from the video the nature of the relationship between the coach and coach developer. How long has the coach been supported by the coach developer, and do they have a relationship whereby the coach developer is familiar with the coach’s beliefs and ideas? If not, might this kind of conversation feature as part of the preparation for the visit?

A successful observation that supports learning and development requires preparation. In addition to finding out what a coach would like feedback on it is also worth agreeing the parameters of the observation and how this will inform your feedback – this enables you to focus your observational gaze.

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