Sunday, 3 May 2009

Intensive Training Days and what I learnt from the last few

Pic.: Someone truly enjoys gorgeous Saturday weather with its 19C and glorious sunshine :)

I am totally loving running my Training Days. Even more so because people who train on them have so many different learning styles that the whole experience allows me to develop my teaching. 
It is said that every instructor/trainer/coach will naturally teach/coach in their own learning style. So for example, if I prefer to know the reasons for doing a particular exercise, how it will benefit my horse or me (or both of us) I will tend to start from explaining to my riders what they are working towards before letting them go and crack on with exercise. This approach might not work with those who are typical 'action learners' i.e. those who like to have a go at an exercise first and find out the know-how through that action. 

It is also said that the best coaches can vary their teaching/coaching styles and match them to the learning styles of their riders. This is something I am working towards - finding out how each individual learns and then trying to teach in a way that will 'get the message through to them'. Educational psychology is so fascinating, I wish I had the brains and the memory to take it all in!! 

I am certainly far away from being so flexible and I definitely prefer teaching in my own learning style as that's when I feel most confident and I know that my instructions or pointers will sound true.   
Running the last couple of Training Days this week as well as while working with some of my regular riders focused my attention on the issue of nerves/anxiety and stress related to riding. 
It's not a secret I am not really good with truly nervous riders. I can deal with competition/performance nerves in them but the 'oh no, I'm going to fall off' sort of nerves or deeply ingrained nerves are something I find myself either helpless or short of patience with.

However, as one of my riders very wisely put on her Training Day:
- "You know, if you were a tennis coach where maybe 0.001% are afraid of fluffy yellow tennis ball you could ignore the nerves issue. But have a look at any riding magazine - more than half of the articles discuss the ways to conquer stress and nerves related to riding 500kg-600kg animals with brains of their own. You have to learn how to help nervous riders as that will make you that much a better instructor"...

Now. You. Just. Can't. Argue.With. That.
So I am trying to get better in that department ;) 

The other thing I learnt on a Training Day I ran on Saturday is the importance of communicating clearly what my plans as to the rider's development are. I may have a very well structured plan in my head and a vision of how I want someone to improve but putting it into words isn't always my strong point. My very regular rider enjoys knowing what exactly are the steps she will be going through and that makes me really focus on how am I going to explain to her what we are working on. 
Although it doesn't come naturally to me as it does to some, I found it actually tidies up my training related  thoughts and in turn clarifies my ideas to me as well. 
Good, good. 
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