The Relationship between Coaching and Habits
An in-depth analysis of how to coach a good and a bad habit.
What is a habit?
Habits are the building blocks of life. Habits are the by-products of actions and decisions we make in life. Therefore, to make the correct decision and take the correct action, habits become a part of us due to consistent repetition.
But, what is the correct decision and how do we, as coaches, coach the ‘correct decision’?
As coaches, we need to facilitate the child into ensuring that the right decision is made.
Is it possible to coach the right habit?
Firstly, we need to ask, what is the right habit? Then, we need to make sure that the learner understands the movement or action, be it, in this case, the right habit. And when I mean understand, I do not mean that we just tell him; we need to ensure they truly and deeply understand. Remember, each child learns differently.
So yes, we can coach the right habit, but there is a specific way to do this. We do not do this by instruction alone. Coaching a good habit comes down to facilitating the learner to understand his or her movements or actions.
Instruction can be a method of learning, but it needs to be coupled with the learner exploring the right and wrong through trial and error, with you, as the educator or coach, facilitating his learning and growth, and guiding him to make the correct decision on his own. One needs to ensure that the learning environment for this trial and error method is lead with positive reinforcement and a safe environment to make errors.
By doing this, the learner truly understands the reasons for the action or decision and becomes an expert by himself. Good habits are personal, and should be coached or taught in a way which is personal as well. The coach or educator needs to understand the importance of personal growth and personal influence on habits. You are not the content expert, and your way is not the only way a child learns.
I like to let my players explore and learn their own way of doing things. There are so many benefits to this, from creating good healthy habits to learning what the wrong habits are.
What about bad habits? How do you coach bad habits out of a child or change a habit?
Since habits are personal, change needs to come from within the learner themselves and their own understanding of the situation and the consequences.
As a coach, I believe you cannot change a habit for someone, but what I can do is facilitate, lead, and guide them to understanding themselves, their behaviour and actions, and thus effectively, changing a habit.
Discipline is also key to coaching habits. As much as I put emphasis on personal understanding and growth, my approach is not Laissez-faire. There is room for failure and lots of positivity to express themselves. However, I am alongside the learner the whole time for support and guidance.
It is about getting the right balance between instruction and discipline, with letting the learner explore the consequences of their actions in a safe environment, with constant positive reinforcement.
He or she has guidance and an environment where they can fail, which is pivotal in coaching out bad habits, as they know they have your positive support throughout the learning process.
Once they know the consequences of certain actions, be it a bad or a good habit, they will know, by exploring themselves, that it might not be the correct thing to do.