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Lemov's Coach's Guide to Teaching: What it covers

One of the beauties of Doug Lemov's new book, A Coach's Guide to Teaching, is its fidelity to good teaching practice.  Plain consistent language is delivered directly.  Below is an excerpt from the introduction, in which Doug describes what's in the book's six chapters.

This book consists of six chapters. The first of these, “The Ability to Decide,” is about decision-making, which I call the most important proficiency of all. My discussion of it focuses heavily on the underacknowledged role of perception. Essentially, you cannot make the right decisions unless your eyes are in the right place and know what to look for.

Expertise is in the eyes. How then do we develop athletes’ eyes and the more advanced cognitive processes they support?

Chapter 2 is about planning and session design, both within a session and within a unit. Planning units of learning (of four or six weeks’ duration, say) is far less common than planning single sessions, but at least as important because long-term memory can only be built over time. As I hope to show, the role of long-term memory is vastly underappreciated by most educators—coaches included. Consider this: you have forgotten almost everything you’ve learned in your life. Athletes are no different. How do you know they will remember what you’ve taught them when they need it?

Chapter 3 is about giving feedback, which is perhaps the single coaching action we do most. That it is so familiar to us makes it easy for us to rely on old and untested habits. We give feedback the way we do because…well, who knows. Perhaps because Coach Carlton gave us feedback that way 25 years ago. And why did he do it that way? Well, Chapter 3 is your chance to think about some of the decisions you make about feedback. The science of working memory and attention will play a key role. 

Chapter 4 is about John Wooden’s adage that teaching is knowing the difference between “I taught it” and ”They learned it.” It’s among the hardest things to do in teaching and the science of perception will come back to play a key role. 

Chapter 5 is about building culture. Culture is often the thing we remember best from our own sporting days, and its messages are what we carry with us longest, perhaps because our individual behaviors have evolved to be extremely responsive to group culture. In the end, you can get a lot wrong if you get culture right.

The first five chapters are about the day-to-day decisions that can bring about the marginal gains James Clear and others write about. The sixth chapter is about long-term growth and development—your players’ and your own. I’ll discuss, among other things, how to balance long-term learning goals with the short-term task of winning, how gameday coaching is different from coaching in practice, how to make good decisions when selecting talent, and how to make sure that you grow and develop as much as you can in your own coaching journey.  

Sporting associations, clubs, leagues, athletic departments are eligible for significant group discounts on this book from John Catt Educational USA. Email gmorrison@johncatt.com to learn more. Buy individual copies here.