While studying for a Psychology major at Whittier College in my Literature Review class during my senior year we had to write a literature review of the research available on a topic we chose. The class was long and very tedious and time consuming but was the most impactful class I had at Whittier College because I learned about exactly what I wanted to learn about under the guidance of a watchful professor always demanding more detail in a class of 6 students. Seeing as I already knew that I wanted to be a basketball coach, I selected the topic of motivation in team sports. This is definitely the piece of work from all of my education that I am most proud of (except maybe little Focker the rat that me and Matt trained in our Pyschology and Learning Lab). Two things that really stand out that I took away from this research project: 1) An article that cualified all of the things John Wooden said and did during practices that was based on one year of observations and (2) how many things that coaches I had throughout my career did the opposite of what the research said would motivate athletes in a team sport setting. As many coaches say, you don’t just learn from the great coaches, you also learn from the bad ones as to how NOT to do things.
Here is the exert from the research paper regarding coach Wooden followed by the link to the published article (coming soon).
Every coach uses a wide variety of behaviors in communicating with players throughout the season. Coaches may criticize for a mistake, praise a good play for one player while ignore the same mistake for the next player. Coaches would benefit from watching how successful coaches interact with their team and modeling the behavior of the experts. Tharp and Gallimore (1976) also found that Wooden’s demonstrations rarely lasted more than five seconds so as not to interrupt the flow of practice. In these brief demonstrations he said what the player did wrong, showed them how to do it right, then continued with practice (Tharp & Gallimore). Although Wooden scolded twice as often as he rewarded, his scolds were loaded with instructions and rarely directed at an individual, usually they were shouted during a group activity when no individual player was singled out and as a result, every player tries to “put himself in order”. Gassner (1999) identified the effectiveness of metaphors in any learning environment, especially sports. According to Gassner, metaphors have performance enhancing capabilities and encourage active listening from players because they must interpret the message of the metaphor and then respond with the appropriate response. Obviously different behaviors will have different effects depending on the individual, sport, and level of competition.