4 ideas from professional sport for your classroom

Could borrowing techniques from famous sporting coaches help your students hit new heights?
30th December 2020, 3:29pm
James Oddy

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4 ideas from professional sport for your classroom

https://www.tes.com/magazine/archived/4-ideas-professional-sport-your-classroom
Why The Football European Super League Reminds Me Of Education

Sport is often a source of inspiration for those who watch, as athletes produce seemingly superhuman feats of endurance, resilience and composure. 

But the coaching and preparation work that goes into those feats are amazing examples of teaching and motivation. Here are four examples that can be transferred from the sports field to the classroom. 

The Bela Guttmann rule 

Guttmann was the first superstar football manager, a maverick Hungarian who managed more than 20 clubs across the world. His many movements were driven by a simple three-year rule.

Guttmann declared that the fourth year was "fatal", as after three years players would become bored and complacent and the manager may feel the same. A move allows everyone to freshen up and refocus.

While a three-year rule in a teaching career is unsustainable (and unwise)  if applied practically, the idea of refocusing, refreshing and reexamining your practice deeply every three years could be worth investigating.

Wayne Bennet: 'If it ain't broke, break it'

Wayne Bennet isn't particularly well known outside rugby league circles, but the taciturn Australian is one of the sport's greatest coaches. 

Somewhat similar to the Guttmann rule, this approach encourages a coach or teacher to interrogate their own practice and the performances of their students even when things seem to be fine. 

It's a proactive strategy designed to keep things flowing in the right direction. It also encourages players and coaches to question perceived wisdoms and status quos, in order to encourage innovation and improvement. 

Marcelo Bielsa and murderball

Coach Bielsa has overseen a resurgence in the fortunes of Leeds United. Formerly a mediocre mid-table second division side, they were promoted as champions last season. Bielsa is seen as one of the most influential coaches of the last 30 years, and lots of that is based on his famously high intense, meticulous training sessions. 

Murderball is a particular brand of this, with simple instructions given to every player before a non-stop, full-blooded game for 25 or 30 minutes, followed by more individual feedback. 

In terms of exam prep for students, chucking a football at them and barking instructions might not be very useful, but replicating exam situations in a controlled, intense environment with clear directions could provide a real impact.

It demands a lot of players, but they all speak of it being worth the effort due to the rapid improvements they make.

Emmanuel Stewart: sparring, sparring sparring

Emmanuel Stewart was the late and legendary boxing coach from Detroit. He ran the Kronk gym, which trained the likes of Thomas Hearns and Lennox Lewis. Stewart advocated, like Bielsa, lots of high-intensity practice when it came to his chosen profession. 

Underpinning his preparation, however, was a vast, expert-level knowledge of the sport of boxing. There wasn't a tactic, fighting style or workout he wasn't familiar with. Not only that, Stewart was an innovator, taking already established and proven techniques and refining them.

Most teachers strive to be subject experts and Stewart showed how powerful that, along with a real passion, can create powerful results. 

James Oddy is an English at a secondary school in Leeds

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