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Energy Systems

Comments (1) Posted in Learning, Uncategorized by Phil Amos on December 19th, 2016

Some thought provoking numbers.

When you consider Usain Bolt’s strengths when running the 100m race, what do these figures potentially mean?

Mo Farah running the 10000m, what do the energy system percentages mean when you consider his typical winning race?

Post a comment – let’s discuss.

Presentation: Child to Champion.

Comments (0) Posted in Learning, Uncategorized by Phil Amos on December 5th, 2016

18th November 2016.

Child to Champion – Guildford Spectrum Leisure Centre.

Group photo of all the coaches who attended, Child to Champion, a presentation by Andy Neal, coach to 5 times British Senior Women Discus Champion and current English Record Holder.

The Quickest Way From A To B Isn’t Always A Straight Line.

Comments (0) Posted in Learning by Phil Amos on August 26th, 2016

As a general rule we are taught that the quickest way from A to B is a straight line. As coaches we often try to help our athletes learn by using a logical; straight-line; progressive approach.

Straight line learning involves assessing our athlete to establish where our starting point A is and then setting a goal of getting to point B. We plot our logical, linear progressions from A to B.

There is one essential ingredient for our learning recipe and this is engagement. Our athlete, our learner must be able to engage with the task. Engagement is like pushing down on the accelerator pedal of a car, making the car go faster. The more our athlete engages the faster their rate of learning. So what can we do as coaches to encourage engagement?

Rocket Fuel

Curiosity, creativity and challenge: the rocket fuel for engagement.

For our athletes to engage fully with whatever task they are doing, they need to have curiosity, creativity and be challenged.

Curiosity: “I wonder why…what…when…where…how much?”.

Creativity: “I’ll try solving it this way or that”.

Challenge: “I’ve had success, I’ve solved my problem, I feel pleased with myself and confident. What is my next step – where next is my curiosity leading me? I feel equipped to take on my next challenge”

The problem with straight-line learning is that we as coaches have worked out A and B and the logical progression between. We have been curious, creative and set the challenges. We have done all the thinking. We have been engaged but not our learner. They may well be doing our progressions but not necessarily engaging with our progressions fully.

The Flying Rubber Balloon Alternative

Picture yourself blowing-up a rubber party balloon. Instead of tying a knot you decide to let go of the balloon. The balloon shoots-off at high speed, flying in every direction. Using the flying balloon as an analogy:

The air escaping the balloon, powering the balloon in its flight: This is our athlete’s curiosity, creativity and the challenges they set themselves, powering their engagement and learning.

The journey travelled is maybe further and most definitely not a straight-line; but the journey is faster and richer, with more questions, more answers, more challenges and more learning.

So if we want high speed learning, we need to design sessions to foster, curiosity, creativity and challenge.

Supply the rocket fuel and let our athletes fly.

What if…?

Comments (0) Posted in Learning, Practice, Questions by Phil Amos on September 4th, 2015

Our Learners

What if our learners set their own challenges and design their own games and tasks to meet those challenges?
What if our learners have opportunities to lead and make decisions?
What if our learners work cooperatively in groups and contributed to each other’s learning?
What if our learners are given time to reflect on their practice and performance, draw conclusions and progress in their own way?
What if our learners take the opportunity to progress at their own pace?
What if our learners work things out for themselves?
What if the tasks our learners practice, make sense and seem relevant to their development?

What if all this happens at once?
What if all this happens all the time?

The Coach

What if the coach plans for this to happen?
What if the coach organises things so this happens?
What if the coach observes and does just enough to facilitate and accelerate learning whilst all this is happening?

Who’s driving the car? Who’s building the road?

Two Conversations

Comments (0) Posted in Learning by Phil Amos on August 24th, 2015

Two Conversations

I was talking with my mother-in-law, trying to get a point across about coaching when suddenly she interrupted me, “Do you know what I am hearing? Blahdy, blahdy, blah.” She laughed…lots… and wandered off.

It was funny, but also reminded me about what we could term, ‘Two Conversations’. One of the conversations is the conversation the coach wants to have with their learner. The other conversation is the conversation the learner is already having inside their own head.

The problem with ‘Two Conversations’ is that often they are different.

An example of this might be the coach wanting to talk about technique whilst the athlete is thinking about and wanting to talk about performance.

Our coach might say, “Try to get your knee to this position”. Here the coach’s focus is on technique. Our athlete might already be thinking, “That throw wasn’t as far as last time”. Here the athlete’s focus is on performance. Two conflicting conversations – interference.

Effective coaching is often about minimising interference.

Performance = Potential – Interference.
(Tim Gallwey –

‘Two Conversations’ is interference.

If we want to help our learner maximise their learning we as coaches need to help minimise interference, we need to have ‘One Conversation’ -the conversation that our learner is already having.

Learning – it’s a process.

Comments (0) Posted in Learning by Phil Amos on May 20th, 2015

I think. I think a lot.

The problem with thinking a lot is that thinking is only part of the learning process.

KOLB: Experiential Learning Model, (

According to KOLB, there are four stages to learning from experience and these are:

Concrete Experience (Feeling)
Reflective Observation (Watching)
Abstract Conceptualisation (Thinking)
Active Experimentation (Doing)

If our learners are predominantly ‘thinking’ and doing relatively less ‘feeling’, ‘watching’ or ‘doing’, then our learners may not be maximising their learning from experience.

The learning situation: Practicing shot put.

Concrete Experience (Feeling)
Whilst practicing our aim as learners at this stage is to gather as much information as possible. We are trying to be mindful of the learning situation asking ourselves questions like:

What am I noticing?
What am I seeing?
What am I hearing?
What am I feeling?
What is happening?
What is happening to my balance as I release the shot?

We are trying to notice what we are noticing.

Reflective Observation (Watching)
Whilst pausing from practice or after our practice has finished our aim as learners at this stage is to be clear and detailed about what we have just experienced. At this stage we are asking ourselves:

What did I notice?
What did I see?
What did I hear?
What is the ‘stand-out’ information here?
What did I feel?

We are trying to notice what we noticed.

“I noticed that mostly my balance fell away to the left and forwards as I released the shot.”

Abstract Conceptualisation (Thinking)
Once we have gathered our information and noticed what we have noticed, our aim as learners at this stage is to try to generate a theory or come to a conclusion: “My balance is falling away because…” We are trying to make sense of the information available. We are asking ourselves:

What does this mean?
What is the cause of this?
What do I already know that helps me make sense of this information?

Active Experimentation
So now that we have our conclusions, at this stage as learners, we are now planning, goal setting, testing and trying to apply our theories in our next experience. We are asking ourselves, “Is my theory correct – let’s see?”

As coaches we can help our learners learn through their experiences by asking our learners the right questions at the right time to facilitate ‘feeling’, ‘watching’, ‘thinking’ or ‘doing’.

We need to help our learners who ‘think’ a lot to ‘feel’, ‘watch’ and ‘do’ more. It’s a process.

‘The Gap’.

Comments (0) Posted in Learning by Phil Amos on March 6th, 2015

Learning is a choice. To choose to learn should be easy.

What can coaches do to help our learners make the choice to learn?

‘The Gap’
There are many reasons why our learners choose not to learn which can be summarised as ‘The Gap’.

So, you are out walking in the countryside when you reach a stream. The only way to get across this stream is to leap.

Leap across ‘The Gap’.

Whether our learners choose to leap or not will depend on a few things:

• “Why should I leap? Is there a good enough reason to leap?”
• “If I leap can I make it?”
• “If I don’t make it what are the consequences?”
• “Do I know how to leap?”

When coaching and helping our learners to choose to learn we can engineer ‘The Gap’. We can make the decision to leap easy. We can help our learners choose to learn by:

• Creating a good enough reason to leap.
• Making ‘The Gap’ just narrow enough.
• Making ‘The Gap’ just shallow enough.
• Making getting your feet wet normal and fun – a normal part of leaping.
• Making getting your feet wet safe.
• Helping them to enjoy leaping and getting wet.
• Helping them learn how to leap.

What if our learner still doesn’t want to leap?

So we have engineered ‘The perfect Gap’ and still our learner doesn’t want to leap. Perhaps our learner can see a better way to get across ‘The Gap’. Perhaps they don’t feel they need to leap. Perhaps they see that for them the best way of getting across ‘The Gap’ is to build a bridge.

To help our leaners learn their way; to build their bridge, they need enough time. Enough time to gather their resources. Enough time to piece their resources together. Enough time to test their bridge. Enough time to modify their bridge.

Help our learners learn by helping them to leap and giving them enough time to build a bridge.

“Calm Down!”

Comments (0) Posted in Learning, Practice by Phil Amos on February 12th, 2015

I was recently observing a swimming lesson for 5 year old’s. Well, actually I was enjoying a coffee without paying much attention, until I heard the swimming coach say rather sternly to one of the children, “Calm down”. This got me thinking, do we really want our learners to ‘calm down’ or do we want them to be excited about learning and use that excitement to sustain their motivation to learn?

Two Types of Excited.

As I coach I see two types of excited behaviour. I see ‘Excited – On Task’ and ‘Excited – Off Task’.

‘Excited – On Task’, might be:

• Excited – engaged.
• Excited-interested.
• Excited – curious.
• Excited-improving.
• Excited-“I’m working it out!”
• Excited “I wonder if I can do the next level-up?”

‘Excited – Off Task’, might be:

• Excited-bored.
• Excited-confused.
• Excited-overwhelmed.
• Excited self-conscious.
• Excited-“I’m not as good as everyone else!”
• Excited – “I wish we were doing running, I’m good at that!”

We coaches should be aiming for excited learners, ‘Excited – On Task’ learners.

Copy Video Games.

If you have ever watched anyone playing a video game you will see a lot of, ‘Excited – On Task’. Video games create, ‘Excited – On Task’ by having levels that start easy and gradually get more difficult.

The motivation behind the progressive levels goes something like this:

• “I’m on level 3”. Current ability – Success.
• “I used to be on level 2”. Evidence of improvement – Success.
• “I’m nearly at level 4”. Belief – Future Success.

Video Games challenge the player to ‘work-out’ each level through experience and practice. This might be:

• “I am learning what I need to do to progress to the next level; I am working this out”. Learning – Success.

Video Games also have points which help to provide incremental evidence of moving towards ‘success’. Even if our gamers don’t complete a level, they may score more points – “I’m getting closer to completing this level”.

Adding points scoring to our practice sessions benefits our learners by:

• Quickly turning practice into a game like activity; helping to promote ‘Excited-On Task’. ‘Excited – Fun’.
• Helping our learners fail and fail again better.

So if we design practice sessions that look like video games, with levels and points, we create opportunities for success. We increase our chances of coaching ‘Excited-On Task’ learners. We minimise having to say, “Calm down”.

Please leave any questions you may have in the comments.

What do you choose?

Comments (0) Posted in Learning by Phil Amos on August 29th, 2014

Are you a learner or a non-learner? For most of us it’s a choice.

Perfect Practice Makes Perfect.

Comments (0) Posted in Feedback, Learning by Phil Amos on April 17th, 2013

“Perfect Practice Makes Perfect.”

Athletic performance can improve and one can be learning.

Athletic performance can decline and one can be learning.

So, “Perfect practice makes perfect” – learning. Regardless of how “Perfect” our practice is, performance can and will go up and down, but learning can be maximised.

To get close to perfect practice the practice must be with purpose; “Deliberate Practice”.

Richard Bailey introduced me to a good definition of “Deliberate Practice”.

Deliberate Practice = Practice + Feedback
+ Variation
+ Observation
+ Mindfullness
+ Context

So, coaches, teachers, parents and anyone interested in creating learning environments and “Deliberate Practice”, if we can develop our feedback skills, provide variation within our practice sessions, create opportunities for our learners to watch practice and learning taking place, engage our learners (mindfulness) and do all this in a relevant context then we get closer to, “Perfect Practice”.