Better ways to coach children

On Friday I attended one of the new England Hockey coaching courses Engaging Games for Children led by Stuart Armstrong.

England Hockey coaching programme

Stuart looked at a useful technique described as ‘cold calling’.

  • Use lots of questions when coaching kids, but instead of asking for hands up, directly ask for an answer from one specific child. ‘Annie, can you give me an answer?’
  • Identify different players to answer questions so that they all have to be mentally engaged at all times – don’t just ask for a show of hands and pick one who seems to know the answer.
  • If Annie doesn’t know. Say ‘Don’t worry Annie I’ll come back to you later.Can anyone help? ” So the child doesn’t feel uncomfortable, but still has to listen to the answer because you’ll be coming back to ask her again later. She will have to remain mentally engaged and there is no opt out.
  • If she can’t answer, look around for somebody else to help out. Or even ask the child who she would like to help her.
  • When you eventually get an answer, go back to Annie and check for learning.
  • Leave some thinking time before you ask the first person and don’t use it as a way of picking on children who you think might not be listening.
  • Look at the taxonomy of teaching books by Doug Lemov, Teach like a Champion.
  • Here’s some links to other websites that looks at cold calling kids and hand raising.
  • Questioning technique
  • Cold calling good technique
  • Hand raising alternatives
  • Cold calling – how to

Stuart Armstrong’s website


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