“Don’t lose the forest for the trees.” I wager that many martial artists have encountered an instructor who “over coached” their students. A common scenario is one where the instructor stops the student every thirty seconds in order to make a correction. It does not matter if the student is sparring, doing kata, or working on self defense techniques with a partner. Invariably, the student might be in the middle of a technique when the instructor interrupts in order to correct the student. The student nods his head and then proceeds.
Thirty seconds later, the instructor interrupts yet again to “tweak” the technique. The student starts over. “Stop right there, let’s do it this way.” And so on and so forth. The result is that the student, being constantly interrupted and corrected, doesn’t get a chance to “feel” the technique and perhaps be given a chance to figure out the flaw in their technique.
This kind of instructor is not necessarily a bad person. He or she may have good intentions. He may be detail oriented but doesn’t realize that he’s engaging in overkill by interrupting the student every thirty seconds. He may want the student to do well but not realize that the excessive instruction may impede the student’s progress. On the other hand, the instructor may think that the student will be impressed with the instructor’s knowledge.  In other words, satisfaction of the instructor’s ego. Such excessive instruction invariably leads to frustration on the student’s part as they are not getting the chance to “feel” the technique without being interrupted.
This kind of over coaching by the instructor is a sign that the instructor is “losing the forest for the trees.”
My preferred method of teaching is to correct one mistake at a time, instead of five mistakes at once. Let the student to see the “big picture.” This allows the student to focus on the one mistake and understand the flaw in the technique. I prefer that the student figure out the mistake on their own and correct themselves. I want critical thinking students. I like to teach in a way that allows the student to figure things out on their own. For example, if I’m teaching a student the Modern Arnis twelve angles of attack and she executes the twelve angles in the correct order but with incorrect footwork, I will let that student finish the twelve angles and THEN tweak the footwork. I don’t see the point in interrupting the student at every angle to make a correction. What’s the big picture here? Learning the twelve angles in its entirety. Once the student feels comfortable with the twelve angles, then we can start on the details, preferably one item at a time. Getting bogged down in excessive detail kills the flow.Yes, attention to detail is important. However, there is a difference between “attention to detail” and “over coaching.” Admittedly, this is a fine balance. The key is whether the student is getting bogged down in too much detail. If that’s the case, over coaching may be the culprit here.
What do you think?
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