29 September, 2015

Achieving that 'Woohoo! Moment'

Achieving that 'Woohoo! Moment'

How many times have you experienced that ‘Woohoo! Moment’ with one of your athletes?

The ‘Woohoo! Moment’ is preceded by a period of frustration and sometimes temper tantrums by both coach and athlete. This is followed by a ‘hmmm, I think we are getting there moment’, with sometimes a ‘nope, we haven’t’ realisation. But then all of a sudden, your athlete performs the skill you have been teaching them for weeks, perfectly, you then get them to do it again to make sure and then again for good luck – Woohoo! Something clicked, but what was it?

Learning occurred! That is what happened! The athlete went through a process that has been researched and refined by coaches all over the World. One of my favorite models is one developed in the 1970’s by Noel Burch from Gordon Training International. It was initially described as the ‘Four Stages of Learning any New Skill’ now referred to as ‘The Four Stages of Competence.’

The four levels that we all go through when developing a new skill are:

  • Unconscious incompetence – The player is unaware that what they are doing is wrong.
  • Conscious incompetence – The player is aware that what they are doing is wrong, but cannot correctly perform the movement.
  • Conscious competence – The player is aware of how to do the correct movement but has to consciously think about it.
  • Unconscious competence – The player can complete the correct movement without thinking about it.

This process occurs for everything we learn, how quickly you are able to progress through the four stages depends on a large number of factors. But being able to recognise where your athletes are at will assist you to effectively guide them, teach then and help then progress. Hopefully this will reduce frustrations and increase ‘Woohoo! Moments’.

© 2018 Paul Mead

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