Wellington, Fla. – April 17, 2020 – Throughout the winter season in Wellington, Florida, Olympians Lendon Gray and Allison Brock designed a Dressage4Kids program to help professionals at all levels become better educators and more effective trainers by providing insight on effective communication. While Gray guided one of the Training4Teaching educational sessions with questions to ask yourself as an instructor, Brock shared her outlook on teaching with positive forms of communication.
“Teaching is helping learners learn — the focus is learning,” Brock explained to the participants.
“Coaching is refining and developing a skill someone has learned. There is a focus on development.”
During her session, Brock shared a quote she finds valuable to consider when teaching and coaching her students: “The effect you have on others is the most valuable currency there is. The emotional impact from a lesson affects the learning and take-away.”
Using the Positives
Communication is a two-way street between rider and trainer. Goals, frustrations, feelings, and expectations need to be communicated on both sides. Trainers are there to instruct, encourage, and give feedback, while students must be active learners. Brock reconfirmed this by sharing that studies show athletes respond positively when positive criticism and feedback is given from coaches. And, much like the horses, well-timed positive affirmation confirms to students that they are on the right track.
Structure, discipline, and emotional support empowers students to problem solve and learn from mistakes while riding. The goal should be to produce self-reliant and highly functional riders. Using words like “Yes” instead of a singular “good” confirms to the student that they made the right choice vs confirming that they are wanting to simply please the trainer. If something is good, be specific. “Good frame,” or “Good balance,” are examples of promoting the positives.
The 3 Zones
Brock described three zones she thinks about while training. The “comfort zone”, which tends to be the warmup and cool down, the “stretch zone,” which is new or difficult exercises and techniques, and the “panic zone”, which is where fear and frustration takes place. Knowing where one zone ends and another begins is how to get the most out of a lesson. Learning happens in that stretch zone and progression happens when a rider’s stretch zone is expanded.
She reassured everyone who is needing inspiration or knowledge not to “get lost in the woods.” Staying committed to improving is possible. Auditing and riding in clinics, going to events, and looking for grants all expand knowledge. Programs, such as Training4Teaching, exist for continuing education and are made possible by generous supporters and sponsors.
Interested in learning more from Brock, check out the summary from her Rutledge Farm Session from Middleburg, Virginia.