“Master coaches are the human delivery system for the signals that fuel and direct the growth of a given skill circuit, telling it with great clarity to fire here and not here.”

Chapter 9 Takeaways:

  • Direct in High-Definition Bursts
  • Coaching the Right Circuit

“Most master coaches delivered their information to their students in a series of short, vivid, high-definition bursts.”

Communicate with substance – we use this line a lot with our returners in leadership positions. And it is a great reminder for ourselves as coaches when communicating with the team or on an individual level. Communicating in high-definition bursts is an attempt to be as clear and articulate as possible without causing a lot of mental concentration when applying instruction. What I have come to appreciate are the repetitive one-liners that coaches used to reference during my playing days. While some of our athletes may use it satirically; they often resonated the most with the team. These are a few our program uses the most:

“Fly it up.” 

“Do your work early – hands ready and feet ready.” 

“On time, on target.” 

“We can’t start transition offense without a rebound.”

“Positioning is your help.”

“Have a plan.”

Coaching the Right Circuit

We have our one-liners on loop during practice, but when do we decide to stop play and breakdown instruction?

Identifying the right time to interfere and re-direct is the premise behind coaching the right circuit. During live practice or actual games, there can be a lot transpiring for the athletes involved.  This chapter made comparison between a Brazilian soccer coach and a violin instructor during practice situations. The soccer coach appeared less involved during a practice largely consisted of live scrimmage, while the violin instructor actively stopped the violinist in chunks to instruct, lead, and start over. Both are widely reknowned for their ability as coaches to reach their students.

The concept is based on targeting different circuits to optimize performance. For a violinist, there seems to be a more sequential circuit where exact notes have to be played at exact times in a very precise order. As opposed to the soccer players, there are a lot of variables that have to be considered requiring flexible thinking and a momentaneous reaction. To have players thinking about perfecting mechanics or positioning can limit decision-making or fluidity in skill. As a coach, we have to determine the times we spend chunking to perfect mechanics and reads versus allowing the individual to naturally make adjustments.

Coaching Application

What are some of the most oft-used instructions within your program?

Chapter 10 Takeaways:

  • Best Line in the Book

“I flat-out love coaching. There’s something there that’s real. You get your hands on it, and you can make somebody better than they were. That’s one hell of a feeling.” – Tom Martinez 


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