Coaching Association of Canada

Jack Donohue, M.S.M. - Basketball

2015, the Year of Sport, marks the 40th anniversary of the 6th place finish by legendary coach Jack Donohue's Canadian basketball team at the 1975 Pan Am Games in Mexico City. In honour of the upcoming Pan Am Games tournament and in homage to the great Coach Donohue, we present one of his tips from the archives.

Coach Donohue’s Tips: How to correct errors

One of the most important and difficult jobs of a coach is correcting technical errors. There is the process recommended by experts.

  1. Create for yourself a mental picture of what adequate performance of skills is, for the age and experience of the athlete.
  2. Watch the athlete perform the skill several times, from different angles, without saying anything, and compare each performance with your mental picture.
  3. Identify the part or parts of the skill which, every time, the athlete does correctly. Tell the athlete these points first.
  4. Identify the part or parts of the skill which, every time, do not correspond to your mental picture of adequate performance.
  5. If there is more than one consistently incorrect part, decide which is the most important to correct at this stage. A good knowledge of biomechanics, the study of human movement, will help here.
  6. Decide what causes this error:
    • Physical – Athlete lacks strength, endurance, flexibility, etc.;
    • Mental – Athlete didn’t hear or understand instructions, chose the wrong cue, etc.; or
    • Psychological – Athlete is afraid, bored, unmotivated, etc.
  7. Give the athlete specific but simple instructions on how to correct that one error only.
  8. Make sure the athlete understands the instruction – ask! Then watch while the athlete tries the correction several times.
  9. Comment on this correction only, always telling the athlete first what is right.
  10. Repeat the above steps for other inadequate parts of the skill when appropriate.
  11. When performance of the skill is adequate, praise and set a new standard.

Little has changed since this tip was published in 1991. Here is the current NCCP Analyze Performance Referent Model: