Why Don’t Some Students Listen?

QandA logoOne of my favorite coach trainees sent in the following concern (he is currently coaching a college archery team):

“A common problem I’m noticing is that 75% of my students don’t seem to take archery seriously. For example, half of my students don’t come to practice regularly. For those that do come to practice, if I tell someone to do X, they will do it and say they understand it. But then on the following week, they’ve completely forgotten to continue doing X, or they have restarted making the mistake that I taught them to prevent. Others say ‘Well I know you told me to do this, but I just don’t feel like doing it.’”

“Is this normal with teaching? I have expectations that aren’t being met because people don’t regularly come to practice or follow instruction.”

To which I responded: Often our mental construct of coaching is from having observed highly competitive sports in which team members come close to killing themselves to “make the team” and then work their asses off just to stay on it, let alone play much. (I was an archetype for this kind of athlete.)

Actually, your students exemplify the current state of education as a whole, not just archery. So many students have gotten adequate grades/moderate success without any struggle that they have become very dilettantish (not their fault, but their problem).

Because of this we distinguish two groups of archery students: Recreational and Competitive. Our definitions (just ours) are Recreational Archers are in it for social reasons; they are characterized as not doing anything that is not fun. Competitive Archers are training to learn how to win/become better. They are characterized as those who practice and who will do dull drills to get better. Both types can be seen at any archery competition, so “attending a competition” is not a criterion either way.

Add to this scheme the proverb that “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink.”

I preserve my sanity through the following rule: I will work for a student only as hard as they work for themselves.

So, recognize that some team members are there only for the fun of flinging arrows and for socializing with other team members and some are there to get better. I spend the bulk of my time with the latter, but don’t neglect the others because you do not know whether or when the “switch will flip” and they become Competitive Archers. The usual scenario for youngsters is they are encouraged to attend (or dragged to) a competition and they do surprisingly well. Then they have the thought, “If I tried harder I think I could get good at this” or “win” or some such.

You might want to try to arrange a “dual meet” competition with another archery club as an introduction to competition. You might flip some of your team’s switches.

Leave a comment

Filed under Q & A

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.