Of course it’ll work. I’ve been coaching for years

I have mentioned before about how I am often amazed how much the format of my session plans change over time without me even realising it. This week quite by accident I found the reason for a change in the format that I had completely forgotten about.

I was flicking through the book ‘How Children Succeed’ by Paul Tough which I read a while ago. I happened to open the chapter about Chess players and it triggered a hazy memory.

This chapter contained a study about something called ‘Confirmation Bias’. I had never heard of ‘Confirmation Bias’ before or since to be honest. It is about our natural tendency to prove our own ideas are right.


In the 60’s a psychologist called Peter Cathcart came up with a simple test for this. The subjects in the test were given a series of 3 numbers and told that they followed a rule and they had to figure out the rule by giving another set of 3 numbers.

The subjects were given a series of 3 numbers like this


and told to come up with another series that followed the same rule. Most people came up with something similar to this


They were told that was correct then told they had to give another series before giving an answer as to what the rule was. Most people gave something like


They were told they were correct again. Most people then gave the rule as being ‘ascending even numbers’ or ‘even numbers ascending in 2’s’ which was wrong. The rule was any ascending numbers so they could have given 1-2-3 or 12-27-35 and still been right. All the series they gave were correct but they never tried to find a way to prove themselves wrong only to confirm their initial theory.

I remembered finding that really interesting but got a bit caught up in rereading the whole chapter and forgot about the hazy memory it triggered. However the next time I wrote a session plan I saw what this had triggered in me previously. For a while now after I write out each exercise I have a space on the plan where I try to find two things that can go wrong with it and what action I can take to keep the exercise flowing if this happens or if I need to tweak the initial exercise conditions.

This has helped me hugely in my planning because I definitely was the type of coach who could only see an exercise going exactly as planned and then had to think on my feet in the actual session if it didn’t work out.

Hope this helps you out. I would love to hear from other Coaches who have added something to their session plans that helps them.

Look forward to hearing from you

Please leave a comment or email me seanthecoach@icloud.com

Follow me on Twitter @SeanDArcy66

Till next time


2 thoughts on “Of course it’ll work. I’ve been coaching for years

  1. Years ago coaches were taught to work from what you ‘see’ so all you had to do was play football. You found out who could see and who could coach very easily. As years have passed coaching has become more precsriptive, some would say robotic, drills have become the flavor of the month, pass here run there, not much thinking etc. Dealing with things that go wrong is a part of coaching, always will be and coping with it is the challenge and some of the fun of coaching, depending on the level you are working at.
    Ron Smith


  2. Pingback: The PE Playbook – May 15 Edition | drowningintheshallow

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