Here’s something to think about. Are you teaching, developing, or coaching?

Let me provide a set of definitions as I’m thinking about them in this context.

Teaching is instruction. Basically, it’s giving someone information and/or showing them how to do something.

Developing goes a step further. It guides the person (player) towards achieving mastery. That’s where they don’t just know how to execute a skill, for example. They can do it effectively and consistently in game conditions and know when and how to apply it in a game context.

Coaching brings in the added level of motivation and coordination with others.

Most of what we coaches do – unless we’re working with beginners – falls into the Developing and Coaching categories. I see this as an important thing to think about because it’s easy to fall into the trap of operating either too much or not enough in a given context.

For example, a lot of coaches think too much from a teaching perspective, where it’s about technical ability to perform a skill. They don’t think enough about developing mastery, which is about being able to perform when it matters, and knowing when that is. This is how you run into the “Why can’t they do it in a game?” situation.

Looking at things from the opposite direction, sometimes coaches spend too much time coaching the team and not enough time helping players develop mastery. Or they spend lots of time on motivation and not enough on developing skills.

Ultimately, we need to balance our focus across the three domains based on our priorities and objectives at the time.

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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.