With a good number of Level 1 Coach courses now completed this year I’ve been reflecting again on the IDEAS coaching model and what constitutes an effective Explanation. For me the essence is, as in most things, simplicity. Keeping it simple aids clarity while adding more detail all too often leads to confusion. We sometimes refer to the ‘five plus or minus two’ rule, but I’m a great believer in the rule of three. I can usually remember three pieces of information but sometimes that fourth or fifth point eludes me.
I find most learners respond well to being given a maximum of three things to think about at any one time. Of course, as coaches we know that most of our common paddling techniques have five, six or more key or coaching points associated with them, but the joy of IDEAS is we don’t have to teach them all at once. In order successfully to achieve a draw stroke, all beginners need to know is that they should turn their upper body towards the side they want to go, put the paddle into the water vertically in front of them and pull themselves up to it. Having done this through an IDEAS session and being happy that all of our learners have grasped these initial three points we can then use the Summary to lead into the Introduction of ways we can make the technique more effective, eg by slicing the blade back out for a second draw or ensuring the active blade is deep in the water (which should result in an even more upright paddle), followed by another Demonstration, Explanation, Activity and Summary.
We also keep things simple by restricting our Explanation to words only. One reason for keeping our Demonstrations silent is that it is very easy to find ourselves turning our heads and talking to the bank or bushes instead of our learners! The same applies to the Explanation if we try to Demonstrate at the same time. It’s difficult I know, but I encourage coaches to put their paddles down and maintain eye contact through their Explanations to optimise the audio learning which should be the focus of this phase of the model.