13 May / 2014(232)… Athletes should train in pairs!.

Should athletes train in pairs ?

I think they should, albeit with coach’s consent. Today, children are very affluent in observing, learning, and adapting various skills. They only need some guidance in their journey. They are also good in expressing themselves to others.  In all this, their parents’ involvement should be minimal, with no direct involvement in their growth, especially in case of more than 1 child learning the sport.

There will always be challenges among the siblings. Hence a coach needs to act as a torchbearer here, guiding them throughout their career.

 Decision-making plays a key role. During the actual play, on-the-spot decisions have to be taken. And these decisions lead to immediate results i.e. win, loss or draw.

Every action has a direct or indirect consequence, based on these decision-making skills (which a coach cannot teach).In real time, there is no ‘action replay’, nor there is a refresh, pause, or redo button.

Over the years, the coach’s role has changed drastically. It is wider & more dynamic now.  His role starts with teaching skills…not technique

Next he has to guide the athlete’s career, while encouraging and instilling confidence to perform well on the field .  I am of the belief that the coach should move away from his regular training, after teaching the basic skills. He should then look at pairing each athlete with another one with similar skills. This is when the ‘decision-making skills’ are learned.

While the players are growing, learning skill with technique, and converting them to consistent, successful performance, the coach should keep on shuffling pairs constantly. He should monitor their progress in learning, understanding, improving and finally, application… in real time.

During training, athletes should be encouraged to communicate & give feedback to each other. A coach’s job is to teach the grammar of a sport. How to read and write is learnt with his/her peer group. But decision-making, being individual-dependent, cannot be taught. Also, players keep on switching their roles in a match. And this constant change of roles is both unpredictable and cannot be assumed. That’s why every decision-making ‘moment’ is unique. A coach does not play the game. He is just a spectator, watching from the outside.

And even if he does participate for some reason, he cannot decide for others.  The same way that a player cannot decide for someone else who plays for him when he is injured etc.


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