A Great Coach Makes an Indelible Impression

I look back at my life in athletics and I try to enumerate the great coaches I had throughout my sports career. For me personally, I consider a great coach to be someone that not only taught me skills but, more significantly, gave me life lessons that I still carry with me to this day (after all, the odds of being a pro athlete are slim to none). Truthfully, I can count the coaches that made a lasting impression on me on one hand. 

As a coach of young, aspiring athletes, I want the kids under my tutelage to, someday down the road, look back and have me included on one of their counting fingers. 

My job as a coach is to get each athlete to their potential. Even so, my greater calling is to give these young athletes self-confidence and self-esteem. These qualities are far more important than hitting a curve ball, throwing a spiral or dribbling a basketball. These qualities are indispensable when it comes to handling the challenges and disappointments that life will surely bring their way. 

As a coach, I have a great responsibility. I also have a great opportunity to impact so many lives in a positive way.

VISUAL CUES SHOULD BE EMPHASIZED WHEN LEARNING A TASK

Throughout our years of coaching and instruction, we have heard from parents that they are sending their son or daughter to a particular instructor who has quite a resume; some pitching in college and some at the professional level. Personally, I believe that practical experience does make a difference. However, we always ask if the instructor is videotaping their child. If the answer is "no" then it really doesn't matter how high up the ladder the instructor climbed in their career. You are not getting your monies worth. 

The human eye simply cannot isolate all the nuances of the complex pitching delivery, arguably the most difficult motor skill in all of sports. Consequently, videotaping is necessary for an instructor to properly diagnose mechanical flaws. Furthermore, visual feedback is necessary to effectively convey the diagnosis and prescribed remedy to the athlete. 

Below, I've excerpted a segment from www.pitching.com (November 24, 2014) that supports our claim. 

Coull, J., Tremblay, L., & Elliott, D. (2001). Examining the specificity of practice hypothesis: Is learning modality specific? Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport, 72, 345-354.

The specific of practice hypothesis was examined using a tracking task. College students (M = 12; F = 28) were Ss and presumed to be novices at the specific task. Two experiments were conducted.

First, visual and auditory feedback about performance was provided. Vision was deemed more useful than hearing in the early stage of acquisition. Performance gains were retained when no feedback was provided. Learning was specific only in the visual learning condition.

Second, visual feedback and auditory feedback were combined. Similar results to the first experiment were revealed. Vision appears to dominate audition in the learning of motor tasks.

Implication. When learning a task, visual cues should be emphasized to produce better instruction.