In another post I referenced some research on John Wooden’s coaching style. One of the more interesting observations from it is what the authors say Wooden called the “sandwich approach”. Now, many coaches will have heard of the idea of sandwiching criticism with praise. That’s when the criticism is the meat, so to speak, with praise as the bread. This is not, in fact, what Wooden talked about in this instance.

The sandwiching in this context is about correcting something a player or a team does incorrectly. It starts with demonstrating the correct way to do it. Then you show the incorrect way, after which the correct way is once more demonstrated. So it’s a “Do this. Not that, but this” sort of approach.

Working this way, the coach reinforces the proper way to execute the skill or run the play by showing it twice. At the same time they ensure the player(s) understand what is being done incorrectly. I think we can all agree this is better than simply telling players they are doing it wrong. Or just showing them the correct way without letting them know what they are doing wrong.

For more Wooden insights, see my review of Wooden on Leadership.

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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.

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