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You don’t have to be a wizard to understand the magic behind the age-old ideology “show, don’t tell.” But one famous wizard made a career out of it.

Legendary UCLA basketball coach John Wooden – the “Wizard of Westwood” – knew the power of show don’t tell. He was renowned for his ability to teach skills not from the sidelines but from the court. Whether it was demonstrating proper footwork or how to set an effective screen, Wooden would stop a practice if he saw his players’ fundamentals lacking. Standing amongst his towering players, he would demonstrate how to do it the right way; exhibit how it was being done incorrectly; and then explain the right way to do it again.

We had Coach Wooden in mind when we crafted Ecsell Sports’ coaching theme for Skill Development, which for us is rooted in a coach’s capacity to advance the competency and technique of student-athletes to help them perform to the best of their ability.

Get to the “why’

One of the best ways to keep growing is to never stop asking questions. Why is proper footwork so important? Why should a student-athlete screen an opposing player this way and not that way?

A coach’s ability to show – to demonstrate – the “why” in skill work is crucial. The beauty of skill development is that student-athletes want to know the “why.” Why does their coach think this skill is important? Why does the coach want the student-athletes to do it a specific way? Why does the coach want the student-athlete to understand the “why”? When the coach answers those “why” questions the team’s growth is put on a fast track.

Once they have the answers and understand the why, the student-athlete experience is far improved. They have more growth in their skillset, more growth mentally.

From the eyes of the student-athlete

In addition to focus groups with ADs, coaches and student-athletes, Ecsell Sports shadowed coaches during practices while documenting their actions and words. This confirmed our understanding of the student-athlete experience, which is defined as follows:

Through the eyes of the student-athlete, their coach builds a trust-based relationship and provides a psychologically safe team environment that challenges each student – physically and mentally – to create growth in their respective sport.

Furthermore, we found that student-athletes led by high-performing coaches carry a common theme. Our Skill Development section within the Ecsell Sports’ Coaching Effect survey seeks answers to questions like:

  • Do you receive individual instruction from your coach at practice?
  • Does your coach tell you specifically what you need to work on to improve how you play?
  • Does your coach let you know when you do something well?
  • When you make a mistake, does your coach help learn from it?

What we do, and why we do it

Skill development is part of the journey.  It’s not an “event,” or a one-and done – it’s ongoing. When coaches and players have a boundless desire to learn, change and grow, it positions them for success. The challenge is to not view skill training programs as a destination. There is no start and stop with skill development. To stop developing is to stop growing.

Ecsell’s Skill Development Theme measures the execution of instructional interactions between the student-athlete and the coach. Through our web-based, anonymous survey platform, we collect data on the student-athlete experience; and then analyze it and provide reports that are measured for growth over previous seasons, and against similar programs at other schools.

These detailed reports – provided to athletic directors and coaches – outline scores within Ecsell Sports’ six themes, including Skill Development, that helps us custom-design a plan of action based on those scores. From there, we provide online resources, which include elite performance training modules that help drive continuous improvement.

Of course, we could keep telling you all about our Skill Development theme and how your coaches can build stronger trust-based relationships with their student-athletes, but why not let us show you how we do it?

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Want to create a more positive student-athlete experience at your school? We work with athletic directors and coaches to ensure your athletes attain elite performance and a positive experience. Athletes are the most capable of achieving maximum growth when their coaches utilize our tools and expertise.

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