Why is the way we approach learning and development in sports prehistoric compared to the classroom and corporate environment? It’s almost as if we view these tasks in sports through a different lens. That the way people learn how to play a sport is somehow magically different from the process that someone follows to learn how to code, write, do math, make a great sales presentation. I find this pretty weird.
I played college soccer and graduated in 2007. I am currently the founder of a sports video platform which I started specifically because sports teams are still using video the same way as when I was in college 10 years ago. In most aspects of my life, I can’t say “people are doing the same thing today as they were 10 years ago” so I wanted to describe an alternative approach that I have begun to use myself and with players I coach.
Before I go into the details, let me step back and explain how I became intrigued by this new method and started to wonder why sports teams haven’t changed the way they approach development. In the spring of 2015, I wanted to learn how to code and I signed up for an online software development learning platform. The way it was structured was that I would watch a 5 minute video and then do some actual coding exercises in the portal which I had to struggle through on my own. I’ll admit that even learning the basics was a challenge, but I was definitely seeing some success. What happened next was really interesting. I stopped doing the exercises at the end of each lesson and was just watching the videos that the instructor provided because I thought that might help me go faster. I no longer remembered anything I had learned when I stopped doing the exercise on my own. It didn’t even matter how much “attention” I paid while watching the videos.
I did some research on my own and found out there is a huge body of research on this topic called “Active Learning”. In a nutshell, it says that in a classroom setting, students learn dramatically more effectively by doing something themselves rather than by just getting lectured.
Now ask yourself, how does your sports team use video? In a majority of cases, a coach is creating clips or paying some service to create clips to share with their players. This is basically the same as a teacher lecturing in a classroom or me just watching the coding videos and not doing the exercises. If we know that this doesn’t work based on hard evidence, why does this continue to be the predominant method of using video in sports? A lot of time (and money) can be saved by asking the players to self-analyze, create their own clips and think about their own actions. As a coach, your role in this process should be to provide guidance and ask questions not to provide answers. The truth is sports are about making a ton of split second decisions, so do you want to produce problem solvers or robots?
I helped to create a sports specific video software platform called vLoop (it stands for video feedback loop) based these personal discoveries about the way I learn (www.vloop.io). All to think it’s because I was trying to learn to code.