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UK Coaching Team
Rapport Building and Communicating

Offering Less Instruction Key to Developing Independent Athletes

Offering feedback and instruction is key to coaching. Ben Oakley’s book, ‘Podium,’ makes it clear that practice is most effective when the coach creates a thinking athlete

In this extract from Ben Oakley’s book, Podium, we look at examples from four different sports that may encourage you to change your approach to offering feedback and instruction.

Several talent development books, including Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers and Matthew Syed’s Bounce, have emphasised the importance of quality and quantity of practice in the development of champions.

After all, it is the coaches who create the practices and build in the rich feedback loops that Syed describes: “Great coaches are able to design practice so that feedback is embedded in the drill, leading to automatic readjustment, which in turn improves the quality of the feedback, generating further improvements, and so on.”

In some sports, this approach starts from an early stage on the talent pathway, simply because of the distance between coach and athlete during training sessions. 


In what are popularly known as the ‘sitting sports’, such as canoeing, cycling, equestrian, rowing and sailing, coaches have to become adept not only at summarising their feedback and delivering it in concise packages at a suitable time, but also in encouraging a self-learning mindset from the start.


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UK Coaching Team