Friday, August 7, 2020

Academic Quick Hit - Gallimore and Tharp's What a Coach Can Teach a Teacher, 1975-2004

Where I attempt to give a quick summary and opinion on an academic paper that connects to teaching, learning, and/or sport.

Why I think this paper matters:
- The authors show the value of revisiting previous work and applying a different lens to learn new lessons.
- We see that great coaching is far more than what happens during practice and competition. We don't just show up and do our best work.
- We see great coaching isn't just about how good your practice plan is. Who we are during practice matters.

Gallimore, R., & Tharp, R. (2004). What a Coach Can Teach a Teacher, 1975-2004: Reflections and Reanalysis of John Wooden’s Teaching Practices. The Sport Psychologist, 18(2), 119–137.
(fun volleyball reference: this paper cites Marv Dunphy's unpublished doctoral thesis on Wooden.)

Type of Paper: Review (sorta)
The authors wrote a famous empirical research article in the 70s that quantified Wooden's coaching. In 2004 they revisited their work, critiqued it, and applied a more qualitative lens.

- Researchers, like coaches and most humans, often find themselves looking back on their previous work and wondering what they could have done better.
- "Had qualitative methods been used to obtain a richer account of the context of his practices, including his pedagogical philosophy, the 1974-1975 quantitative data would have been more fully mined and interpreted" (p. 119). Coaching, at its best, is an exercise in mixed methods research. The best research around it must account for both the qualitative and quantitative aspects of coaching.
- "It is now clear Coach Wooden’s economical teaching that we observed was the product of extensive, detailed, and daily planning based on continuous evaluation of individual and team development and performance" (p. 124). Wooden's seemingly effortless coaching was the product of massive amounts of care and attention in the gym and work and reflection outside of it. Just like great athletes, great coaches are working long before and long after practice and competition.
- Coach Wooden's work on his craft was so much more than finding the perfect drill. He dedicated himself to being more efficient but also to learning his athletes. He saw the importance of affirming each one of the athletes in his care and connecting with them in ways tailored to their individual personalities and needs.

What I'm left wondering:
- How can I learn more about pedagogy, particularly as it applies to sport coaching?  There's a great deal of work in this area (some of which I have read) and I think that this article, along with its predecessor, should encourage coaches to learn more about coaching from the research and not just from the coach on the court next to them.

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