Effective Questioning


Questioning when coaching is something that is crucial in terms of reinforcing learning for the participants within the sessions. However reflecting back on the sessions I have done I don’t actually ask that many beneficial questions. Asking questions such as ‘Does everybody understand?’ or ‘Is everyone alright with that?’ do not actually benefit anyone other than myself and are essentially used to tick the Q&A box on the session plan. When I now think back to my younger years if my coach had of asked me a similar questions I would have just said yes because I didn’t want to speak out in front of my friends and look stupid. I would carry on regardless even if this meant that I had to struggle. It is exactly the same in a game scenario too, the coach would be shouting instructions at me from the sidelines but half the time I didn’t even know what he meant!! So on reflection, did I actually learn anything form the questions he asked me? No.

In the lecture a few weeks back regarding questioning we got onto the topic of instructing and coaching. But the main question is where would I put myself on this scale. I would say that a year or so ago I was very much an instructor, I was focused on telling the participants what to do as opposed to essentially the participants telling me what they’re doing and why they’re doing it. Coaching is all about the players whereas instructing is pretty much all about the athlete. Bentley (2005) states that “Instructors continue to tell a driver what to do; coaches help drivers to learn”. Even though this quote comes from a book regarding drivers and engineering them, it can be transferred across to coaching too. I need to ensure that I am not only telling a player what to do I must ensure that I am helping them upon their journey of development as a player. If we take a match on a Sunday for example: An instructor would have to continue telling the player how to do something and as a result would rarely learn from the experience. A coach on the other hand would help the player identify the problem and then again help them to discover a strategy to stop this form happening again.

Below is an image which outlines and discusses Blooms theory of both high and low order questioning, suitably named Blooms Taxonomy:

Revise Taxonomy

This system is used to define and distinguish between different levels of human cognition i.e. thinking, learning and understanding (Great Schools Partnership, 2013). There are 6 categories within the taxonomy which can be seen above. As a coach I know that I rarely hit the higher order thinking questions (Analyzing, Evaluating, Creating) therefore this is an area for improvement in terms of effective questioning. If the higher order thinking questions are not being met then the participants ill not be learning as much as they potentially could do which quite a large issue in my eyes that needs establishing.

An idea for future sessions is that I will include questioning within my session plans each week. This way I can note down questions that fit into each level of Blooms Taxonomy. Consequently the questions I ask will help to derive in depth answers from the participants which gets them thinking. It will also help to reinforce the learning that they are doing within each session, consequently helping me move higher up the continuum from an instructor where I was 12 months ago, to where I am today – a coach.



Bentley, R. (2005) Engineering the driver. United States: Motorbooks International.

Partnership, G.S. (2013) Bloom’s Taxonomy definition. [Online]. Available at: http://edglossary.org/blooms-taxonomy/ (Accessed: 21 April 2016).



Coaching Philosophy

My own coaching philosophy is something that I have not reflected on as of yet and is a subject that is essentially influenced by my own experiences of coaching, being coached, as well as watching the coaching methods of the team I support. Consequently this blog will discuss my coaching experiences and how I have developed into the coach I am today which will highlight my current philosophy.

One major aspect in regards to philosophy is how it can be defined as a term. Well, the basketball coach John Wooden compared a philosophy to “a pair of glasses that filter reality through ones person experiences, opinions, values and beliefs” as outlined by Prudden and Chancellor (2005). As a result this essentially means that our philosophy directly influences how we see and understand things along with the actions we take and most of all the way we choose to behave (eg. coaching methods). Similarly Kidman and Hanrahan (1997) outline that a philosophy is a personal statement that is based on the values and beliefs that direct one’s coaching”. Both definitions refer to values and beliefs therefore it is essential to formulate your own philosophy rather than just copying someone else’s you liked the sound of as it may not fit to your ontext!! Prudden and Chancellor (2005) also go on to state questions that you could ask yourself while yo are trying to formulate your own philosophy. They are:

  • Is my approach educationally sound? (Do my drills serve a purpose?)
  • Is my approach appropriate for my players? (Does the level of the team match the drills being used?)
  • Is my philosophy ethical? (Is it being carried out in a way that sets a good example to the players?)
  • Can you explain the reasons as to why you do something? (You need to be able to justify what you do to be able to motivate athletes)
  • Is your coaching philosophy compatible with your personality? (If you are not a patient coach then why would you use a non-linear approach as you don’t see the benefits straight away, it’s a longer process)

Therefore before identifying or formulating a philosophy it is crucial to answer questions regarding your own coach experiences, values, opinions and beliefs so that the correct philosophy is identified which suits you as a coach.

The lecture I attended regarding philosophies got me thinking, what is my philosophy or even as a start, what do I want from my players and how do I do this? Formulating a philosophy reminds me why I am actually coaching therefore knowing it is a crucial part of reflection too. When developing a philosophy you must determine the roles of the coach, the skills of the coach, the needs of the performer and finally the needs of the coach. All of these points link together so for example the skills of the coach will go hand in hand with the needs of the performer. The performer may need lots of coaching but the coach can only use the skills he has to meet the performers needs therefore creating a link.

In terms of my coaching, meeting the performers needs is one of the most important aspects. Without this the players may not be challenged and therefore the learning they actually achieve will be minimal.But how can I maximize the chances of learning while meeting the players needs. In my own opinion game based approaches/TGFU provides the best environment for learning and this is something that I strive to do as it will benefit me significantly as a coach and help to improve my skill set too. Hopper and Kruisselbrink (2002) suggests that Teaching Games For Understanding(TGFU) can be defined as “a problem-based approach to games teaching where the play of a game is taught to situate skill development”. Not only does it teach skills in the context of the game but it is also allows them to learn the concepts of the game. In the table below (American Sport Education Program, 2011) drills and activities are compared with the drills being a linear type practice and the activities being game based:

Drills Activities
Static Dynamic
Rigid Structure Flexible Structure
Lines Free Movement
Boring Fun
No Thought Decision making
Age Inappropriate Age Appropriate

As you can see in the table above a drill and an activity are two completely different aspects within coaching. Activities give participants much more freedom and place emphasis on decision making while having fun. If the participants are in an environment that is fun and allows freedom then they are more likely to try new things and learn within a game scenario. However on the contrast drills are boring to kids and don’t give kids the chance to make decisions for themselves which they can learn from. Also, during activities questions can be asked which will test the participants to see if they understand the reason why they are doing what they are.

To conclude this blog teaching games for understanding is something which will not only help me to meet the players needs but it will aid in the development of the players as a whole. Game based approaches provide environments that participants can learn in and as a result what they learn can be transferred into a game situation. The decisions they have to make in a game are going to be similar to those which they have made through game based activities. Therefore by implementing this approach I am not only working on the players decision making but I am providing them with the best possible environment to learn in.



Hopper, T. and Kruisselbrink, D. (2002) ‘Teaching Games for Understanding: What does it look like and how does it influence student skill learning and game performance?’.

Kidman, L. and Hanrahan, S. (1997) The coaching process: A practical guide to improving your effectiveness. Palmerston North, N.Z.: Dunmore Publishing.

Program, A.S.E. (2011) Coaching youth soccer-5th edition. 5th edn. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics Publishers.

Prudden, J. and Chancellor, V. (2005) Coaching girls’ basketball successfully: Customised basketball coaching. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics Publishers.