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American Idol Savvy: Coaching From The Sidelines

IdolThey are known as the judges. Much of the time they evaluate as judges. More and more, though, Simon, Randy, Kara and Ellen are coaching the young singing contestants.

Judge or coach. Or does it matter?

Both roles provide good entertainment, which is what the show is about. (See our discussion last week.)

But as coaching goes, they leave much to be desired. Their primary context for giving constructive feedback is once a week during the show itself. In other words, they are coaching from quite a distance.

It’s the difference between a soccer coach taking a player aside in order to talk over his or her performance one-on-one, and yelling feedback from the sidelines during the game.

It’s difficult to understand the long distance coaching in the midst of an intense game. The player’s focus needs to be on the game more than the coaching. The coaching tends to be extremely context-specific; that is, related to the particular moment, decision or action. Such advice can be difficult to integrate into one’s overall improvement strategy.

Hence the confusion many contestants express about the seemingly contradictory advice they are receiving. They are thinking in terms of their overall strategy. (The big picture.) The judges are commenting on a specific performance. (A much smaller picture.) The two pictures relate intimately, but it can be confusing for a young contestant to sort how how.

What about your coaching? How do you help people integrate context-specific feedback into their overall improvement strategy? Or do you?

- Karl

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