There’s a quote from the book Practice Perfect that I think is worth a highlight.

“But what Wooden wanted was correction, not critique, and the difference is that critique involves telling a participant how to do it better but correction means going back and doing it again, and doing it better—as soon as possible.”

If the name Wooden doesn’t mean anything to you, that would be former UCLA basketball coach John Wooden. He’s among the most influential coaches of all time – in any sport. You definitely want to learn more. I’ll put links below to some posts based on his work.

Getting back to the quote, it brings in to play two elements. One is the feedback. The other is the immediate opportunity to fix the mistake. We can then divide situations into two categories.

Execution issue: This is the case where the player made an error in their execution of a skill – either technical or with respect to decision-making. Often, knowledge of performance is the feedback mechanism here, and the coach doesn’t need to say anything. Other times – especially in regards to decision-making – a few words may be necessary.

Technique issue: This is about the player failing to employ the desired technique, or technical element. For example, a hitter doesn’t get a good transition. Sometimes they recognize the failure. Many times they don’t, so need some form of feedback to give them that information.

In either case, the quote says to us that what Wooden wanted was to see the player immediately do it again correctly. This is obviously easy enough to attempt in a simple 1-person or small-group drill. If you’re working in a more game-like environment, however, you’ll need to do something like Second Chance.

So the point here is that we don’t just want – directly or indirectly – to tell the player that they did something wrong and/or how, but to actually get them to do it right ASAP.

Wooden content

6 Steps to Better Practices - Free Guide

Subscribe to my weekly newsletter today and get this free guide to making your practices the best, along with loads more coaching tips and information.

No spam ever. Unsubscribe at any time. Powered by ConvertKit

John Forman
John Forman

John is currently the Talent Strategy Manager (oversees the national teams) and Indoor Performance Director for Volleyball England, as well as Global Director for Volleyball for Nation Academy. His volleyball coaching experience includes all three NCAA divisions, plus Junior College, in the US; university and club teams in the UK; professional coaching in Sweden; and both coaching and club management at the Juniors level. He's also been a visiting coach at national team, professional club, and juniors programs in several countries. Learn more on his bio page.

Please share your own ideas and opinions.