Getting the students to think like a Coach

Part 1

In a previous post I discussed how both Unit 2 (Practical Sports Performance) and 6 (Leading Sports Activities) of the Level 2 BTEC Sport qualification can be combined and taught alongside each other. This post offered more of an indication as to how the two Units were going to be delivered, whereas this post will be focused on evaluating the completed delivery of the first Learning Aim of the Leading Sports Activities Unit.

Following the delivery of Unit 2 and 6 in conjunction with each other the student’s evaluations of their own performance were better (unit 2) and their sessions plans for their coaching session (unit 6) were far more detailed as the skills they learnt about in Practical Sports Performance were still fresh in their mind. However, what I did find was that Unit 6 Learning Aim A was not completed to the level I had hoped, the students spent too much time worrying about the presentation of the work (animated video) and not enough time on what it was they were explaining.

Therefore, with this year’s cohort I have dedicated more time to teaching the students how to “think like a coach”. This is an idea that I got from reading the work of Daniel Willingham. Dr Willingham expressed the concept of getting students to think like scientist, mathematicians etc., providing situations where the students are challenged with applying their skills in a real world problem/scenario. My school is focussing it’s CPD around the six principles of teaching and learning presented by Shaun Allison and Andy Tharby (challenge, explanation, modelling, practice, feedback and questioning). I have taken my research of these principles and applied them to my planning and teaching of the aforementioned unit.

The first areas I have looked to incorporate and develop are challenge, modelling and deliberate practice. They have been used when re-doing/amending my Scheme of Work for Unit 6 (figure 1). I have changed the lesson objectives from a three levelled success criteria to one single but challenging learning question that allows me assess whether students are ready to move on or if they require support/scaffolding. I have then planned in lessons dedicated to developing any fluent knowledge that maybe missing or to stretching the students to apply their knowledge to more abstract concepts (PLC lessons). Finally, once the students Personalised Learning Checklists are completed and the students have had adequate time for deliberate practice, they are given a set timescale within which to complete their assignment.



This time around I used a simple baseline assessment prior to teaching Learning Aim A, it included multiple choice and open questions and that allowed to me gauge what existing knowledge the students had, as well as areas where students showed a particular interest. I analysed the results and found that the majority of the responses were based around Football, therefore this is why a large focus of our lessons were on sports leadership in Football. The results of the baseline were put into the PLC and these were changed once students demonstrated an increased understanding in particular concept.


Now that I knew the starting points of the students I could plan lessons that would both engage and challenge them. The subject of assessment for this Learning Aim was to demonstrate understanding of the attributes and responsibilities of sports leaders. I aimed to get the students to do this by creating an advertising campaign to recruit successful sports leaders for a sports coaching company they had to create. They then had to write a newspaper article to promote sports leadership, within which they had to compare and contrast two successful sports leaders (assignment brief). In order to achieve this the students had to have the relevant fluent knowledge to be able explain each attribute and responsibility, as well as have enough experience to be to compare and contrast between the attributes of different sports leaders.


As you can see from my scheme of work I broke the content down into two lessons delivered over two weeks, the learning question for each lesson was “Can I explain the attributes needed to be a successful sports leader?” and “Can I explain the different responsibilities of a sports leader?”. There was a created scenario at the heart of each lesson that was designed to present the key content to the students but in way that the students had to think and extract the information for themselves. Each lesson had a journey that allowed for the students to work through the tasks at a pace that was suitable, so no one was slowed down or left behind. The tasks got progressively difficult and required the fluent knowledge addressed in earlier tasks, there were also examples/models used throughout to show the detail I expected in their work (figure 2).


Throughout these lessons the students were assessed and the PLC was continuously updated. Following this there were two lessons (one week) set aside to ensure the students were where they needed to be before moving onto more abstract content (creating their coaching company). Within these lessons the students completed activities that would allow them to stretch their understanding or to fill any gaps that may have emerged (figure 3). For the most part my students could discuss the different attributes for a sports leader, but they were not able to make the distinction between the attributes of different types of sports leader. This was the focus of our drop down sessions, and the aim of these sessions to specifically target the areas that the students needed support or stretching.



We then moved onto completing the next part of our preparation which was comparing and contrasting two successful sports leaders. This time however, I wanted the boys to experience observing coaching in practice. So we had a lesson in the classroom followed by a lesson observing a Core PE lesson. The students had a Coaching Passport (discussed in previous blog) which was used to document what they had observed, and also served as their homework tasks for the week. The class was split in half watching two of my colleagues, they made notes on the sessions during the lesson and then had to interview the teachers for homework. The homework fed into the next lesson where we discussed the similarities and differences between the two. The Coaching Passport will be continuously used throughout the Unit to allow deliberate practice of planning and delivering coaching sessions.


To this point we were near enough ready to complete the BTEC Assignment, so I got the students to plan out their coaching company. This had to include a name, logo and slogan, as well as an ethos and background information. The students really enjoyed this aspect, although some got a little carried away with the size of their franchise. The students set about the task of planning the assignment, they used a planning sheet I gave them alongside the assignment development tool. This is a document used to support the students with their writing structure and use of language, they use it both to plan, write and review each of their assignments (figure 4). I found that taking an extra hour to get the students collate all of the information and plan their assignment has improved the attitude shown towards assignment writing, as well as the level of response generated.



I have now competed the teaching of the first Learning Aim this half term and it has been the most successful to date. The students have responded really well the changes that have been made and were able to provide a far more detailed assignment. More importantly they seem to have a far greater grasp on the concepts which puts them in better position to complete Learning Aim B/C (planning, delivering and reviewing coaching sessions). My next post will be evaluating the delivery of Learning Aim B and Learning Aim C.

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