My Personal style and method of coaching
The process of shotgun coaching has always been something the has been of great interest to me. Over the many years that I have been coaching, I have had the opportunity to learn many tried and trusted techniques to bring knowledge and education to the shooters that I have coached.
I now find myself drifting to developing my own methodology and very distinctive style of coaching. This is not unusual for a coach to do. We are encouraged to develop out own coaching philosophy and to bring an individualist approach to how we coach. Using your own style is more intuitive and it naturally helps in the communication that must happen between coach and shooter.
Language barriers for Shotgun Coaching
I have spent much time working with athletes for whom English is not their first language and in many instances the act of communication must rely on methods and techniques that do not rely so heavily on vocal communication.
I have had time to think about this and I have had the opportunity to try out new methods to bridge the vocal communication gap.
Sometime my methods worked and I could communicate my intentions and receive feedback in a workable manner. In other instances, the message gets misinterpreted and confused.
It is always a challenge to find alternative ways of delivering the message. I see a common mistake at the shooting range where a coach is repeatedly saying the same thing over and over again to a shooter, for whom it is clear, does not understand or is incapable of processing the message they are receiving.
A fundamental principle of teaching is to deliver the message being communicated in a way that the shooter can understand, process and act upon the message. I have taken this principle of communication to heart in much of my coaching where I spend a lot of time ensuring that the coaching advice I deliver is received and understood as I intended it. So much so, that I often deliver the same message using many different formats to ensure that the shooter is not just agreeing with me out of politeness but that they fundamentally comprehend the message that I am communicating.
This has led me to naturally view a coaching issue in a multi-faceted approach as I build a series of different methods to deliver what I want the shooter to understand. The methods are not new – vocal guidance, written and diagrammatic explanations, video playback and commentary with annotation of the video if necessary, first person observation and feedback and many others.
I would generally choose what I believe to be the most apt method and proceed to deliver the message. After some time and further training, if I feel the message is not been taken on board by the shooter then I might try again using a different communication method. This step by step approach does work but I always felt that there was a better way to do this, a more immersive way, where I could deliver a the message through a holistic and mindful approach to the issue and the shooter.
The basics of Immersive Shotgun Coaching
I began by examining the communication and coaching methods I used that delivered good responses from shooters and especially from shooters for whom I could not converse fluently in English.
Some of these methods are listed below:
- Vocal instructions – fluent
- Vocal instructions – limited vocabulary
- Motivation – vocal encouragement
- Engagement – vocal reinforcement
- Empathy with the shooter
- Visual feedback – written/diagrams
- Visual feedback – body language and gestures
- Physical demonstration
- Imitation of actions
- Chaining of individual steps
I noticed how many times I used combinations of these methods and how I would seamlessly move between them seeking to make a connection with the shooter to create a way of comprehending the message I was giving.
Immersive coaching starts with a deep dive into the nature and psychological motivation that drives the shooter. Knowing what their motivational factors are has helped me to determine which of the above communication methods makes for a seamless connection to them.
Some shooters are highly motivated and even within this group the motivation can derive from different sources. The desire to be the best at their sport, to be the most successful in winning medals, to be the most admired and cited as being the best. For others, the reward is more intrinsic – to be financially secure, to gain a regular place on the team, to be promoted, to achieve a better life.
In many cases, the rationale behind their motivation can be a mixture of all the above and indeed much more. Knowing what are the primary features of their motivation helped in guiding me to determine the communication methods that most align and are receptive to their motivational instincts.
How does the shooter respond to communication?
I’ve seen widely different responses to essentially the same instruction from different shooters. Some will just do as you ask, no questions. Others will need to be convinced of the message before they accept it — scepticism being their standard opening position. Others will need more information, different explanations about the principle being communicated and coached. It is if they are searching for a deep and true understanding.
I find those shooters who fully engage and involve themselves in shotgun coaching and embracing their understanding of what is being asked of them and how they should be performing the activity, are by far the most receptive to understanding the message. Again, this is a basic principle of immersive coaching, the willingness to embrace and seek a full understanding of what is being asked of them before embarking on the training activity.
Using Immersive Shotgun Coaching
I have found that by using multiple approaches to explaining the principle I want to communicate is the most effective mean. Especially when these approaches support and enhance each other. I find this develops a better understanding within the shooter.
The goal is to find complimentary explanations and examples of tasks you wish the shooter to perform. Keeping in mind the limitations that the shooter’s preferred methods of communication might bring, such as limited fluency in your language and a desire for a preferred way of being coached.
I take my analysis of the shooter’s personality, their intrinsic motivational triggers and then I combine it with what I see as their preferred methods of coaching, the learning methods that have shown to be most receptive by them and finally I build a lesson plan that delivers a comprehensive and in-depth learning experience for the shooter. The lesson then becomes a holistic exercise in training. It is no longer a distinct series of individual activities but an immersive coaching experience that the shooter feels more confident and open to learning and assimilating the coaching tasks.
Keeping an open mind is an essential attribute that a coach should possess. My own curiosity and desire for knowledge has led me along this path.
Take the time to develop your own coaching style. Immersive coaching is my current method and philosophy of coaching. Note that in the last sentence I said current. For it is important to note that just as our shooters develop so must we. You must be open to change and while my methods might not match yours, it might help to start the process of developing your own coaching method.