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Posted in: Coaching Top Tips

How many key points in a session

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  • dancottrell1

    You have 15-20 minute skills block with your team (or an individual).

    How many key points would introduce or focus on?

    My own sense is that one is plenty. You develop this in more depth, with added pressure and challenges, as the players progress through the session.

    Other key points might be noted or observed, but are left for another time.

    Anecdotally that's what I think. Is there any evidence to support this view or change my mind?

  • pippaglen

    I suppose it all depends on the individual person how quickly they learn the skill's set ( Key points).  It could be that one athlete can manage 2-3 key points, other athlete can only cope or take in 1 key point. Also the age of the athletes I wouldn't give a 3/8 year's  too many key points as this can become very confusing for them. Learning ability,  some athletes might find it difficult to learn more than 2 skills or key point due to having a learning disability.

    Being an athletics coach I try to concentrate on 2 key points but due to some of our athletes having disabilities and injuries to the brain we have to give some athletes 1 key point to concentrate on.  What you don't want to do is give too many key points that athletes will forget.  I always make sure in every session and throughout the session I ask "what are the Key points we are looking at?" by asking this question you will get understanding from the athlete and to which you may have to go through the key points again. 

     In Shot put I would give key points  like   1) Keep Elbow high and not pointing at the floor  2)  not letting shot putt come away from the neck. If you have observed another skill that your not working on that needs working on document this and plan for the next session. 

    In the past I have seen coaches give too many instructions / key points, athletes go away not understanding and very confused.  I think its about getting to know your athletes, what there learning abilities capabilities are, how quickly and how much information they are able to retain, making sure that when you give them a key point to work on they have good understanding by asking questions and getting athletes to demonstrate. 

  • IanMahoney

    In all the spots uk courses is is suggested you focus on one point until that technical pint has become of their second nature and move on to the next point. I also been suggested that if you intervene as a coach, what you need to say should be said within 30 seconds. I think that coaches that write volumes on this site have not grasped the basics. Intervene by all means but let athletes try out your advice. I could take years and even after the athlete hs 'retired' before 'the penny drops' that what you had told then was very good advice, Coaching practices may change but the principles never,

  • Wild-Stiles

    when I first started leading a group I was so enthusiastic that I wanted to get quick fixes and really had to be mindful not to overload with too much information.

    Now at the start of the sessions I ask the runners to remind me what we discussed last week. I then do some sort of technical drill to reinforce or expand on last weeks point before advancing to the main session where I will ask them to remember a key point from the technical drill.

    In a recovery period during the main session I will then remind them of what we are looking for and ask them how they think they could improve. I rarely want feedback at this stage but more self reflection as they complete the activity.

    If I spot something that really needs focus but is unrelated to the main session point I will go and have a quiet chat with the runner but not labour the point.

  • David_T

    I agree Dan,

    The challenge I then have is in a competition situation, fighting with myself not to give more than one piece of technical feedback/point to work on.  Because if I know I should keep to one thing at a time in training, surely my brain should accept the same in competition!?

  • mark.joyce

    Yes I would agree that a key point is enough for one session the trick is in choosing the correct key point. I have found by trial and error that choosing the key point for that individual often eliminates other problems or on the rare occasions highlits a negative that was previously unknown.

  • KateHP

    I agree, one key point especially with limited time and if they are younger players too one is often more than enough! I coach hockey so I might give them one key point as a group and then give some of them something else as their key individual point if they can already go the group key point.

  • AndyS

    I'd have to agree Dan, one Key Point is enough for a 15min session. As you say, if you have a series of progressions to keep challenging the players then it's very easy to fill 15mins - I've filled 40mins with one point before and just kept progressing the session as they got it.

    As well as going into a session with progressions in mind, I think it's always good to have a few regressions ready to.

    Yes, we all want to see improvement through the session, but if little Johnny is struggling, having a slightly simpler version that you can work on with him, he'll soon get up to speed. Of course this relies on having enough coaches to run whole-part-whole systems, but it can bring the standard of the group up on a level very nicely.

  • jasoneady

    Hi. I have Grade 11 Mixed sex/ability and G7.8 girls only.

    I will have one focus point for the session (for G11) or over some weeks and slowing increase the technical requirement and game pressure to the situation. But depending on what it is often treat it like planting a seed. Many times it is just a concept being introduced that will sprout or develop at a later time or for some immediately.

    Slightly off topic but I also proactively run through focus points to increase the skill set as opposed to being reactive to the previous week(s) game - the theory is by the end of the season it will ensure some balance in what they are learning.

  • JKKennington

    "Focus" and " if you intervene as a coach, what you need to say should be said within 30 seconds"

  • Nkdavey

    Hi Dan,

    Not sure this is so black and White. Many comments (not read all of them) focus on broad coaching best practice, 1 technical point etc.

    I coach a team sport and while I will always have a theme. There will be two sides at least  to that action and how it impacts on the other parties. 

    I may may have some key technical points but they would be individualised to each player and how the theme is affecting them.

    Also I think it is quite dangerous to set yourself one goal for a session. Because how are you measuring the success of that key point? In what context does that 'skill' equal successfully learnt behaviour. Has it transferred?


  • IanMahoney

    Exactly, taught on all sports coach workshops, It seems some coaches have not grasps the basics of coaching. Trying weird and wonderful thing and forgetting the basics,

    You answer and my answer would take l

    ess than 30 secs to say!

  • Nkdavey

    Its certainly very easy to fall into the trap of trying to go through your entire A to Z of a sport in every session, we've all done it. 

    I also think that having a very clear focus for any session is vital along with having an idea of what you'd like to see near the end. I suppose my point was that if as a coach you get to attached to the idea of hammering home one key point in a session your not giving any wriggle room for the session going in other directions. I've been there where what I want to get out of the time just isn't happening and that frustration can come across to the players as disappointment in them and their lack of progress. 

    Also what about the players who get this point straight away, what will they be getting from the session?

    I guess I just don't think it's as straightforward as saying 'this my key point' tick, on to the next one.

  • IanMahoney

    And that's where football and athletics differ. Like crowd violence in football doesn't happen in athletics!

  • JoeyGPL

    From an ecological dynamics standpoint, yes starting with one idea then as the session emerges, adapting to where it leads next through task, envrionment and/or individual constraints.

  • JasD

    Wow designed to confuse or impress us as to how clever you are ?! I prefer the KISS principle.

    If you lose your audience, how can you hope to keep them on board ? Confusing jargon will help to do that, unless your talking from a sport's-specific perspective... ?

  • JasD

    Interesting concept. Would have helped (me) if you'd have mentioned which sports-context you were speaking from ?

    I teach Karate at Club level, University level and to a national group. So depends on audience... Also traditional aesthetics require constant monitoring for muscle-memory/2nd-nature/standards.

    I'm struggling to conceptualise the one-message at a time point ?

    If we're working on competition karate, the individual has to 'learn'. So drill scenarios of beginning of fight, mid-fight, end-of fight, offensive fighter response, drawing out a defensive fighter, managing Referee's & Flag judges by adhering to 6-point essential qualities within a fixed time-bout, whilst having an unknown skilled opponent in front of 'your' athlete - and coaching within guidelines make it very difficult to envisage a single-message delivery example being of much use...

  • IanMahoney

    In training you should concentrate on one point until it comes second nature (takes 30 days) and them move on to next point.

    That is lesson one of all Sports Coach UK workshops

  • IanMahoney

    Don't give your athletes a mental traffic jam, as we know lots of information is never retained.

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