Do this and stop practicing the wrong way!

22nd November 2019

Richard Hadley, Angling Trust Coaching Centre Manager and Lead Safeguarding Officer considers what “Purposeful Practice” looks like…

For all those coaches who have read ‘Bounce’ by Matthew Syed (the ‘ping pong guy’), and begun to think about the idea of Purposeful Practice, then what does this actually look like?

Many coaches and performers think that doing the same thing repeatedly is important in improving technique. I’d imagine this statement is true, but if you think about this more carefully, is it really a functional way to turn that technique into a skill?

For me, a technique becomes a skill when it can be performed consistently under pressure. You might not think this happens much in angling but how about say, casting to specific points (such as to a rising trout or hitting a tight area when you’re spodding). These can be make-or-break for an angler.

So, the question is, how can we make practices not only purposeful, but relevant to these “pressures”?

While in the middle of the Rugby World Cup my thoughts (of course!) turned to a coach who promotes the theory that all skill development is about modifying existing natural behaviours.

His name is Dave Alred. You might have seen Jonny Wilkinson or Francesco Molinari performing in their sports. Both have worked extensively with Dave Alred.

I recommend that you watch some of his online tutorials, especially the “Do this and stop practicing the wrong way” one.

Dave talks about “groups of repetitions”. It’s interesting that he promotes using far fewer repetitions but recommends concentrating on the first of the group, with a break in between groups, so that the first of the next batch becomes the most important.

This can be extremely useful for us anglers when we need to concentrate on accurate casting being the key to a successful days angling. My mind instantly goes to those who are taking the GAIA Instructor Course. Often, showing the best at assessment can become a high-pressure situation.

Perhaps reducing the number of practise casting repetitions down to a small group of 3’s or 4’s (with a break in between them), could prove a key to competence. What do you think? Let me know what practical experience you have of this and I’ll include any feedback I receive in an update in the next edition of All-In! – the Angling Trust‘s e-newsletter for coaches!


Richard Hadley
Angling Trust Coaching Centre Manager and Lead Safeguarding Officer
07720 974811 | [email protected]