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A quick question: What makes a good question? | Welcome and General

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Posted in: General

A quick question: What makes a good question?

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  • Blake

    It has become accepted that games and activities which encourage players to reflect on their actions help facilitate learning. The key to this lies in the role of the coach, who should guide performers during these sessions rather than direct and control. The line of questioning is all-important, therefore, as it helps drive discussions and lead them in the right direction. But what makes a good question?

  • roly151

    Hi Blake,

    Great question! ;-) In my humble opinion, there is no "correct" answer, as it depends on the context. For example, we may tend to say open questions that encourage learners/players/athletes to think are better - but what if you coach a team sport, and 14 players are stood still while one or two think about the question. Open questions need time and sometimes discussion, and perhaps in the middle of a team activity is not the best place for them. 

    Having said that, a movement response question is a good way to ask an 'open question' within an activity in a team sport, as it requires the players/athletes to figure out the answer through their actions. 

    So much more to cover! 

  • Brett

    I agree questioning can be so important in the constraints-led approach where most sports seem to be heading... To reflect and also analyse - "when could you use this skill in a specific match situation?" "why might you use this tactic in a game?".

    I observed an England junior session the other day who gave it a slightly different twist. Playing a 5 on 5 point scoring game focusing on defending. However, they weren't told what they were being scored for, so during the break/injection they were asked to work out in their teams what was scoring them points. They played again for 7 minutes before being asked to give their answers. Seem to work well, allowing the activity to be the question. 

  • andrewb62

    The problem with questions is that they do tend to stop the flow of the a session.  OK in a fixed drill ("have a go; review; repeat"), less so in a games-based practice.

    As Sean and Brett both say - context is so important.

    But I find myself using a three-part format most often.

    1. what just happened? (good or bad outcome - learn from success and failure)
    2. what was meant to happen? (what would have been the perfect outcome?)
    3. what could you do next time to make it (even) better?

    Q3 is the important one for learning, clearly.  But I want to help my players to become analysts of their own game, so they need to learn how to watch (q1) and develop tactical awareness (q2).

    To begin with, there has to be some (a lot of) prompting on the first question.  I am perfectly happy with a non-verbal response - miming "head in the air" or "standing foot nowhere near the ball" is as memorable as (more memorable than) reciting the textbook description of an imperfect technique, and provides its own answer.

  • Ralph

    I’d like to counter what has been said above, stopping the flow can be a very good thing, if as Blake asks, it’s “a great question” it maybe so great, it’s worth an interruption.

    I believe there is a correct answer and it’s one that, opens a whole dialogue of avenues and nuances completely unexpected because, nobody had seen such a simple question would open a Pandora’s box of interesting things. The most important thing being, “I have never seen it that way”; in other words, the question help someone see something from a completely different point of view. Example below.

     “Never change a winning formula.” What is far more accurate; “if your standing still, you’re moving backward!” always change a winning formula, if you don’t your competitors will take your formula and improve on it. Never be happy with the status quo (unless you’re into that kind of music). I’d even suggest, change for change sake. Brian Eno made a very successful career out of only doing that. It’s been said “The most dangerous statement in the world: We’ve always done it that way!” it’s an excuse to change nothing.

     And certainly, if there’s no such thing, as a good question, there’s no need for connected coaches.

     Most often questions I ask; How come, I believe in you, more than, you believe in you? Or, Who stole your confidence?

  • roly151

    Hi Ralph, 

    I agree. I think we were just making the point that there are many considerations when thinking of using questions. A coach of an individual athlete, such as a high jumper for example, can use open questions a lot more in between practice jumps. Coaches of team sports need to be mindful of the pro's and con's of using the different types of questions. The context and the learner need to be considered at all times.

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