Want to be a Better Trainer, Coach or Teacher? Read This!

The Talent Code by Daniel Coyle was one of my best reads of the past year. I’m sorry it has taken so long to get these reviews in print but, I have just gotten around to transcribing the notes from pages I folded and highlighted.  As I may have mentioned I now buy both a print and audio copy of every book. That may seem extravagant but, the print copy allows me to go back and review what I heard in the car.

To be honest, I think a lot of the stuff in the beginning about growing myelin was just a hook to get you to read. In fact had it not been for my friend Jim Setters of the German National Ice Hockey Federation, I would never have picked the book back up. I started it and thought the beginning was BS and just put it down. I can only say “thanks Jim” as there were parts of the book that I did not want to miss and would have.

Of particular interest were the sections on Teach for America and John Wooden. I’ve attached a bunch of quotes and page numbers that I highlighted in the book with some heading and comments.

If you get a chance, pick up a copy of Talent Code today.

Teach for America and KIPP

The majority of charter schools are built on a foundation: to do whatever it took to get the students into college. Pg141

The is KIPP culture. It covers how to walk, how to talk (they work on the three inch voice, the twelve inch voice, and the room voice)pg 146

“Every single detail matters,” Feinberg says. “Everything they do is connected to everything else around them.” Pg 147

Note- the KIPP lessons can apply to any business but apply well to strength and conditioning.

Coach John Wooden

Wooden didn’t give speeches. He didn’t do chalk talks. He didn’t dole out punishment laps or praise. In all, he didn’t sound or act like any coach they’d ever encounter.pg 167

There were no lectures, no extended harangues… he rarely spoke longer than twenty seconds..pg 168

Gallimore and Tharp recorded and coded 2,326 discrete acts of teaching. Of them, a mere 6.9% were compliments. Only 6.6% were expressions of displeasure. But 75% were pure information: what to do, how to do it, when to intensify an activity. One of wooden’s most frequent forms of teaching was a three part instruction where he modeled the right way to do something, showed the incorrect way, and then remodeled the right way, a sequence that appearedin Gallimore and Tharp’s notes “Wooden”pg 169

Woodens demonstrations rarely take longer than three seconds, but are of such clarity that they leave an image in memory much like a textbook sketch.pg 169

The coach would spend two hours each morning with his assistantsplanning that day’s practice, then write out minute by minute schedule on three by five cards. No detail was to small to be considered. Wooden famously began each year by showing players how to put on their socks, to minimize the chance of blisters.pg 169

His skill resided in Gatling-gun rattle of targeted information he fired at his players. This, not that. Here, not there. His words and gestures served as short, sharp impulses that showed his players the correct way to do something. He was seeing fixing errors. He was honing circuits. Pg 170

He taught in chunks, using what he called the “whole part method” he would teach players an entire move, then break it down to work on its elemental actions. He formulated laws of learning. Explanation, demonstration, imitation, correction, and repetition. Seek the small improvement one day at a time. That’s the only way it happens-and when it happens, it lasts.. You Haven’t Taught Until They Have Learned, authored by Gallimore and former Wooden player Swen Nater. “Repetition is the key to Learning” pg 170

Note-I may have learned more from this chapter then from any book I read or listened to this year. This info changed the way we all teach and coach.

Football Coach Tom Martinez

Note- the quote below really shows the essence of coaching. Know who you are coching and what you need to give them. Disadvantaged kids may need more “ice cream”, the rich kids, “more shit”.

Football coach Tom Martinez, whom we’ll meet later, has a vivid metaphor for this process. “The way I look at it, everybody’s life is a bowl of whipped cream and shit, and my job is to even things out.” He said. “ If a kid gets a lot of shit in his life, I’m going to stir in some whipped cream . If a kid’s life is pure whipped cream, then I’m going to stir some shit.’ Pg 185

A teacher is one who makes himself progressively unnecessary-Thomas Carruthers pg 196

“Get your feet apart-be an athlete now”

“You’re like a waiter. Keep the ball up, deliever it.”

“Your left foot is killing you, know what I mean? You’re understepping. Yu got to roll and pop.” “See how easy it isn’t?”

In thirty seconds he explained the correct dropback motion in four distinct ways:tactile (ball of fire), personification, (waiter), image (airplane), and physical (butt to armpit)

“kids today are hard to reach,” he said.”They know how to give all the right answers, all the programmed answers. So when I see things, I say it so you can hear it. I say it a lot. Each guy has his own button you can tap on. Who are you out here for? Pg 201


Carol Dweck, the psychologist who studies motivation, likes to say that all the worlds parenting advice can be distilled to two simple rules: pay attention to what your children are fascinated by, and praise them for their effort..pg217

If you get a chance, pick up a copy of Talent Code today.



12 Responses to “Want to be a Better Trainer, Coach or Teacher? Read This!”

  1. The quotes and comments on Wooden seem very similar to what we are taught in ARMY OCS. If you can find them online you should check out the ARMY manuals on Leadership, and on Clarity. I can e-mail you some of the class notes we are given.

  2. mboyle1959 Says:

    Listening probably triples my “intake”. Problem is I need to review.

  3. Matt Smith Says:

    Mike- do you find that listening to books makes it easier for you to “read” more? And does it make any difference to you who is narrating?

  4. mboyle1959 Says:

    Matt- I ordered Midset yesterday. I also set up Audilbe.com on my IPAD. I didn’t like it on my first try but, it makes too much sense to not try again.

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