Measure what matters!

    Why process is more important than outcome in a learning environment

    Good coaches know that focusing on process rather than outcome is the best way to help youngsters learn new sport skills. Process keeps us focused and on task without worrying about outcome. Process helps us keep our eye on what we're doing to achieve our goal rather than the goal (outcome) itself. Why is this better? Because it encourages persistence in learning. Persistence in practicing new skills is the single most important key to learning them.

    There really isn't any magic to learning something. It's a process. To be successful learners we need to embrace the process and not worry about the outcome.

    Teaching is actually creating the environment where learning takes place. The better the environment, the more persistent the student. Persistent students not only learn more, they learn at a faster rate.

    Good coaches create these environments all the time. Poor coaches don't, or can't. It is this skill, creating an environment that encourages persistence, that separates the good coaches from the others.

    Why is this so important? Think about what happens when we're learning something new -- physical skills, a musical instrument, mathematics -- it doesn't matter what it is. The key to learning it is practice and lots of it. The more we practice the better we get. Not everyone approaches a new skill with the same enthusiasm, thus practice time varies but as a general rule those who practice more get better.

    The coach's greatest task then is to figure out ways to encourage young athletes to practice, to actually want to practice. When I was coaching swimming the challenge, especially with younger swimmers, was to construct my teaching environment so that the athletes would want to come back the next day. If I was able to do this over the long term then I knew that my athletes would eventually reach some measure of success relative to their abilities.

    Constructing this environment is difficult but it is the single most important thing a coach does and, luckily, it gets easier as a coach gains experience. Unfortunately, this is also why many young coaches or former athletes fail when they enter the coaching ranks of their sport. They think their technical knowledge or personal ability is important to young athletes when it is probably the least important thing.

    Creating a fun and challenging environment allows the process of learning to take place. Each coach will have to find their own way to create this environment but here are a few basic guidelines:

    Praise effort

    Praise increases practice persistence. All people enjoy praise. Young athletes, especially, will try to repeat behavior that elicits praise from coaches. Praising effort will get athletes to put in even more effort in hope of more praise. You can see what's happening here. The effort (practice) is exactly what we want because we know that the more people practice the better they get at something. Praise the effort and don't worry about the outcome.

    Offer performance feedback

    Feedback that focuses on performance rather than results is far more effective in helping athletes improve. Only coaches can provide information about the performance and tips on how to improve it. Athletes can usually see the result and really don't need the coach to provide information like this.

    Track progress

    Few things are more motivating than seeing how far we have progressed on our way to achieving a goal. In a good learning environment coaches help athletes see this progress and understand what it means. Tracking progress takes many different forms and it's vital that it be done. Progress toward a goal can add purpose to any practice session.

    These three tips can go a long way in helping a coach create a good learning environment. Understanding the importance of the learning environment and how it affects practice persistence is the mark of a good coach.


    Bill Price (price@sportkid.asia) is the owner and Chief Data Scientist at Sportkid Metrics.

    DON'T FORGET TO SUBSCRIBE TO THE SPORTKID NEWSLETTER

    Don't miss any content
    Subscribe Now!

    What would you do differently if there were no such thing as talent? - 04 April 2021


    Athlete development measurements and the lingo that goes with them - 21 March 2021


    Retention and Training Age - 07 March 2021


    Fear of missing out is hurting youth sports - 23 October 2018


    Deliberate practice vs. late specialization - 24 September 2018


    Is talent identification even possible? - 17 September 2018


    Who won the Asian Games? - 10 September 2018


    Re-thinking the mission of Malaysia's sport associations - 03 September 2018


    Using maturity offsets to determine age at peak height velocity - 27 August 2018


    The youth sport talent illusion - 13 August 2018


    The tip of the iceberg - 30 July 2018


    7 things youth sport coaches should know - 25 June 2018


    Who is responsible for athlete performance - 18 June 2018


    Creating a culture of achievement in sport - 05 June 2018


    Sport development in the headlines (sort of) - 28 May 2018


    Who won the Commonwealth Games? - 23 April 2018


    Kaizen: Improving sport administration will improve performance - 02 April 2018


    What can Malaysia learn from Norway about sport development? - 05 March 2018


    Dealing with more than one email address and other communication ideas - 26 February 2018


    What can you do to work more efficiently? - 19 February 2018


    LTAD: Training to compete - 22 January 2018


    Sport clubs are the lifeblood of national sport development - 15 January 2018


    Take a chance! - 18 December 2017


    How we calculate age in youth sports can have benefits and consequences - 11 December 2017


    Can bio-banding help reduce the relative age effect in sport? - 04 December 2017


    Understanding the role that intrinsic and extrinsic motivation play in the athlete development process - 20 November 2017


    Great expectations: Expect more, get more! - 14 November 2017


    Why process is more important than outcome in a learning environment - 25 September 2017


    Sport associations are embracing physical literacy training - 18 September 2017


    Creating a true sport development system in Malaysia - 11 September 2017


    Who won the SEA Games? - 04 September 2017


    KL2017: Reporting individual sport results deserved better planning - 29 August 2017


    Can we please forget about ways to identify talent and just work on getting more athletes? - 07 August 2017


    Using the team selection process to boost motivation and increase athlete participation - 24 July 2017


    LTAD: The Train to Train stage - 10 July 2017


    LTAD: The Learn-to-Train stage - 26 June 2017


    Athletic training for youngsters - 12 June 2017


    Visualization and imagery in sports - 05 June 2017


    Young, single-sport athletes suffer more injuries and do not reach their full potential - 29 May 2017


    Transformational vs. transactional coaching - 23 May 2017


    Will they come back tomorrow? - 08 May 2017


    Advice to parents of young athletes - 01 May 2017


    Is VIP leadership of sport associations a good idea? - 22 March 2017


    What happens after an athlete's initial introduction to sport? - 27 February 2017


    "Where do athletes come from?" - 16 January 2017


    Understanding sport talent pathways - 09 January 2017


    Make 2017 the year of the growth mindset - 02 January 2017


    Teaching physical literacy skills in youth sport practices - 12 December 2016


    Developing sport from the ground up - 06 December 2016


    Pay for what you want - 21 November 2016


    The 10,000 hour rule: "Not for the faint of heart nor for the impatient" - 14 November 2016


    Parent involvement in their child's sport participation sometimes backfires - 07 November 2016


    How to do the measurements for determining peak height velocity (PHV) - 24 October 2016


    A foreign coach is not always the answer - 17 October 2016


    Tips on creating an effective coaching environment - 10 October 2016


    Peak height velocity and aerobic development - 26 September 2016


    Early sport specialization is still not a good idea - 19 September 2016


    What kind of data do we need to develop sports? - 13 September 2016


    The attrition and transformation models of sport development - 05 September 2016


    Solve for <x> - 29 August 2016


    Artificial elimination of athletes from training and competition hinders sport development in Malaysia - 15 August 2016


    Time is the most important factor in talent development - 01 August 2016


    What if opportunity never knocks? - 13 June 2016


    The long-term athlete development framework offers youngsters a chance at sport success and an active and healthy life - 06 June 2016


    Early sport specialization is not a good development strategy - 30 May 2016


    What does a declining population mean for sport? - 2 February 2016


    Coaching 'flow' - 11 November 2015


    The coach's role in creating a deliberate practice environment - 02 November 2015


    When should athletes specialize in a single sport? - 11 September 2015


    The Holy Grail of health, wellness, and sport development - 1 September 2015


    Revisiting the 10,000 hour rule - 10 August 2015


    The power of 'not yet' - 20 July 2015


    Let's stop trying to identify sport talent and start developing it - 22 June 2015