Accelerate Player Development with Blended Learning

With blend­ed learn­ing, coach­es can meet ath­letes where they’re most com­fort­able to help them improve.

Accelerate Player Development with Blended Learning

With blend­ed learn­ing, coach­es can meet ath­letes where they’re most com­fort­able to help them improve.

The con­cept of blend­ed learn­ing has become a hot top­ic in high school aca­d­e­mics. A sys­tem that com­bines online learn­ing with school-based instruc­tion enables stu­dents with dif­fer­ent learn­ing styles to be suc­cess­ful. Online learn­ing allows stu­dents to study out­side of school hours, accel­er­ates their under­stand­ing and bet­ter uti­lizes instruc­tors’ time. It gives stu­dents an ele­ment of con­trol and own­er­ship over how, when and where they work.

That strat­e­gy doesn’t have to be con­fined to the class­room. It’s a con­cept that works for ath­let­ics as well. While a good deal of play­er learn­ing is going to come on the prac­tice field or the lock­er room, coach­es can eas­i­ly share infor­ma­tion with play­ers to digest on their own time.

This con­cept doesn’t dimin­ish the val­ue of coach­ing — these lead­ers are still expect­ed to moti­vate ath­letes, teach them the game and help devel­op their skills. But blend­ed learn­ing allows those lessons to con­tin­ue even when ath­lete and coach are apart.

Meet Athletes Where They Are

Today’s ath­letes are more attached to screens than ever before. Studies show that Generation Z spends more than six hours each day on the inter­net, tex­ting or engag­ing on social media. This gen­er­a­tion prefers to be engaged with a smart­phone or tablet and responds best to visu­al stimuli.

Blended learn­ing pro­vides an avenue for coach­es to embrace this char­ac­ter­is­tic instead of resist­ing it. Video is a tremen­dous teacher that rein­forces lessons when coach­es aren’t phys­i­cal­ly present.

Instruct play­ers how to watch video and learn on their own. Coaches can quick­ly cre­ate playlists of clips for play­ers to watch, adding com­ments and draw­ings to dri­ve cer­tain points home. The video can be shared with groups or indi­vid­u­als with a sin­gle click.

The ten­den­cy for play­ers is to want to look at their high­lights,” Bob Rickman, the boys bas­ket­ball coach at Alton High School (Ill.), said. But that’s when I would break out some clips and email a play­er and say, Look at these shots you had last game,’ or, Look at this series here. What are we doing right and what are we doing wrong?’ That’s a good way to get them to focus in on the par­tic­u­lar areas you want them to.”

Give Players Ownership

The more invest­ed any indi­vid­ual feels in a process, the hard­er they’ll work to keep up their end of the bar­gain. Giving ath­letes the respon­si­bil­i­ty to watch video on their own will make them feel empow­ered and add a lay­er of trust between them and their coach.

Every play­er will approach the oppor­tu­ni­ty to watch video on their own dif­fer­ent­ly. Some will dive in head­first, eat­ing up every clip you send them. Others may take a more hands-off approach. But all will be encour­aged and feel more involved in the process.

I think video edit­ing is just part of high school cul­ture,” Greg Ceitham, the boys soc­cer coach at Holland High School (Mich.), said. The dif­fer­ence is now they have access to these tools and this footage that they didn’t have access to before. Their abil­i­ty to manip­u­late it, to edit it, to change it, to label it, it’s extreme­ly valu­able, and they’ve become very com­fort­able with the plat­form very quickly.”

Help Athletes Better Learn the Game

A teacher would nev­er sim­ply hand a text­book to a stu­dent and say, OK, now learn.” A book may have great infor­ma­tion, but with­out the con­text a teacher pro­vides it’d get lost.

Coaches can help ath­letes tru­ly learn the ins and outs of the game by com­bin­ing their knowl­edge and expe­ri­ence with the ben­e­fits video pro­vides. Video isn’t a replace­ment for coach­ing — it sim­ply dri­ves home coach­es’ points, allow­ing for faster and deep­er comprehension.

Playlists can break up long film room ses­sions into digestible bites of infor­ma­tion. Athletes often don’t have the patience to watch entire games, and even if they do, they’re like­ly to key in on their own per­for­mance, poten­tial­ly miss­ing out on impor­tant points. Sharing a playlist of key points will keep them focused and hold their interest.

Coaches of all sports can ben­e­fit from incor­po­rat­ing video and embrac­ing blend­ed learn­ing–get your pro­grams engaged with video.