Successful Youth Practices 7: Scanning and Improving Your Coaching

Scanning is one of the most difficult skills that there is for a coach. The ability to observe the athlete perform the skill and assess where the problem lies.

Often, as coaches, we already have pre-defined teaching points and regardless of where the athlete is lacking, we are giving them the feedback we have prepared.

A player may shoot really well in practice, but struggle to shoot in a game. Where does the issue lie? What can we do to help this player improve in the game?

Based on the information in the last paragraph, there is not enough information to have an informed response. We haven’t provided any details or context for the practice (what kind of drills do we do, does he shoot well in the small sided games as well as in isolated on air shooting drills, what about the scrimmage situations in practice, does he shoot well there?) or the game environment (is he able to get shots off or is not even getting the shots off? is it a technical issue? or is it a cognitive issue? is it a decision-making issue?)

Being able to almost step back in practice and observe the small sided games or practice scrimmage and scan to see where players are struggling and what needs to be done is powerful, because now you are able to adjust and make the necessary changes.

If the learner lacks the technical skill, perhaps then, in short bursts, the learner can perform some repetitions of blocked practice, so that they can get comfortable with how the skill is performed, what it looks like and how it feels for them. Once they have got the basics down, a progression is needed.

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