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5 top tips for teaching at grassroots level

Adam Kemp FBHS and 2010 Badminton Horse Trials winner Paul Tapner were the speakers at the recent Pony Club Conference at Hartpury College, where the theme was consistency in coaching across all levels and all disciplines. We explore five of the top tips they gave regarding coaching at Pony Club level.

1. Communication is key

The success or failure of a lesson depends on communication and it is important to tailor your terminology to each individual student.

“You need to think ‘what works for them?’” says Adam. “Sometimes you will need to soften your language and other times you can be more direct.”

2. Remember to give praise when appropriate and coach in positive terms

Explain to the rider what they should be doing rather than what they shouldn’t be doing.

“Telling the rider to ‘approach the fence slowly with energy’ rather than saying ‘do not approach the fence too fast’ puts a positive inflection on your coaching which is far more effective,” explains Paul.

3. Keep it simple

Horses and riders understand simple messages. Be careful not to bombard your pupils with too much information, instead break it down into easy, digestible chunks.

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4. Choose one thing to work on during the lesson

“There may be many things which need to be worked on but select one thing, like straightness, and focus on that, don’t overcomplicate things,” continues Adam.

5. At the end of the lesson ask the pupil what they have learnt today

“Asking pupils to reflect on their lesson and tell you what they learnt is a great way to help them remember it,” concludes Paul.

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