Coaching cues are short phrases or collections of words that help us remember what is going on or where we should focus our attention.
I present a number of coaching cues in our live programs. Cues can be used to help players remember, understand and evaluate what is going on in active environments where notes are not taken, used or easily accessible.
Take AIM on Time is one of my coaching and teaching cues as well as a program theme. This cue is intended to reinforce upon coaches and teachers the concept that time is very important in every learning situation.
However, there are several kinds of time when applied to sports. The A stands for activity time, I for instructional time and M for management time.
Activity time is where most learning occurs. It should be the largest chunk of time. Instructional time is important but it should be short, as should management time.
Coaches can talk all they want, thinking it is important, but activity or action is where the real learning occurs when based on good instruction. A few other examples follow.
WIN. Lou Holtz, head football coach at South Carolina, uses this phrase to get players to focus on the notion of What’s Important Now. Apply this cue to a game or practice situation, and the focus of attention should sharpen.
Finish like a pro. This phrase was used by an NFL Films person. It emphasized that, even when the game was over by half time, there would still be opportunities to capture great pictures. It is a good cue to get players to play hard the entire game. I used it to encourage my youngest daughter to finish each course in school with enthusiasm.
Speed. Superiority. Simplicity. (and Safety?). These first three cues were used by a local retired law enforcement officer in a radio interview to describe the raid to capture Elian Gonzales from the home of his Cuban relatives in Florida.
As a law enforcement outsider (and having never been assaulted or detained), this demonstrates that cues are used to help learners of all types to master their jobs.
All leaders can improve the performance of their “students” by developing cues that zero in on the skills, strategies and concepts to be learned. Meaningful cues help learners focus in the absence of chalkboards and notebooks.