When athletes are learning new skills, it is important to learn them correctly. From the beginner to the most advanced athlete, skill training needs to be done through corrective coaching. So, what is corrective coaching? It is the manner in which the coach communicates to the student throughout the training process. In this discussion, I will share my thoughts on the importance and consistency of Corrective Coaching.
There is much discussion on the importance of building a strong foundation of basic elements, so the athletes can progress in a positive manner (Tumbling: Importance of Building a Strong Foundation). Even the most basic elements need to be learned properly with good technique. When skills are learned with poor technique, the student will have challenges learning more advanced skills. In the sport of gymnastics and tumbling, all skills are somewhat related, so it is imperative to learn even these basic elements with proper technique.
For the student to learn the proper technique associated with each skill, the coach needs to communicate and explain the technique in detail. This communication needs to be done consistently to ensure the students are performing the skill with the correct technique at every attempt. This is how good habits are created.
If a student performs a skill with the wrong technique and they are not corrected, the student will continue to perform the skill the same way every time. Thus, creating a habit that will need to be corrected later. We all know that habits are difficult to break, and it takes time and consistency to fix these bad habits. The objective of every coach is to train the students properly, so bad habits are not created.
I make it a point to try to make a correction to the student every time they perform a skill. No matter how small the correction may be, it is a process that is important for the student to understand what their body is doing while performing each skill. Through this type of communication, the students will begin to acknowledge and identify their own mistakes without being told. This can only happen if there is consistency in corrective coaching.
Of course, corrective coaching will not occur if the coach does not have the experience and knowledge of proper technique. Therefore, it is so important that the coaches are trained to instruct the skills at the level they are assigned to work with (Gymnastics: Training Your Staff). I train my staff by asking them what they saw that needs attention when a student performs a skill. A newer coach to the industry will probably not be able to recognize the mistakes. This is a great opportunity to train them on what to look for in skill development.
Since gymnastics and tumbling skills are so complex and are performed quickly, it is difficult to see every body angle and movement. The experienced coach has a trained eye to spot these mistakes, and this is what newer coaches must learn as well.
It is not uncommon to see students in a class where they are attempting their skills with no corrective instruction. It is difficult for a coach running a class with numerous students that are rotated through several stations. The problem we see with this structure is the coach is not able to watch every student as they rotate through the stations. As the coach is working one station, the other students basically work on their own as they perform their required curriculum on the other stations. Thus, they are not being corrected on wrong technique at every attempt.
It is this scenario that brings to light the importance of class structure and controlled student to coach ratio’s. If the students are to learn in a constructive and productive environment, the class structure should be defined and completely controlled (Class Structure). In addition, the coach of each class needs to have the knowledge to not only know the technique of the skills, but to know how to run a productive class.
Training, training, training!! Not only for the students, but for the coaches as well. A well-trained coach in skill development and class management will have the tools to create and develop good athletes. In addition to the students learning their skills properly they will also be learning them safely. This creates an environment where the students can thrive and pursue their dreams and goals.