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WWB Peer Coaching Program

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After first announcing the WWB Peer Coaching program in November 2023, we received a huge response from women wanting to be part of this program, and several players volunteered as coaches. We got underway in February 2024, pairing a dozen women, mostly Intermediate or Novice players, with coaches.

Participants play weekly Consultation Mode matches using the popular backgammon server: Heroes.BackgammonStudio.com. The Heroes Consultation Mode is an amazing teaching tool. It provides instant feedback after moves are made on the best move, as well as highlighting in green (small errors), yellow (errors between .03 and .08 points per match worse than best play), and red (blunders with greater than .08 PPM worse than best play).

What a coach can do is help players get better at identifying possible plays and explain why the best play is right. As one observer noted, you can’t make the right play if you don’t see it!

   A Little History of the Peer Coaching Program

 

In the November 2023 WWB Newsletter, we featured the story of Adam Grant who recounted in his recent bookHidden Potential: The Science of Achieving Greater Things,

how a Harlem chess team became National Chess Champions in two short years. With the help of Maurice Ashley, a Jamaican immigrant chess champion, students reviewed each others' games and worked together to take their game to a higher level. We urged women backgammon players to learn from their example.

 Find a peer coach. Practice on Heroes Using Consultation Mode. Identify and Correct Your Mistakes. Support Each Other.

  Peer Coaching Clinics 

It quickly became clear that more women were eager to receive peer coaching than we could accommodate. Beginning in April 2024, others waiting for a peer coach were given the opportunity to join weekly group Peer Coaching Clinics headed by co-founder Karen Davis. As the group sessions took off, invitations were extended to all women in the program, including those with personalized coaches.

The Peer Coaching Clinic sessions on Zoom run for 1.5 hours, beginning with 5-10 minutes of catching up with each other, getting volunteers to play a teaching match, and then turning to Heroes.BackgammonStudio.com to play a 3-point teaching match in Consultation Mode with the clock turned off.

The Clinic sessions follow a Doubles Match format with two women volunteers playing two other women volunteers. Karen chimes in with questions or tips. Women observing the match also occasionally make comments or ask questions.

Group Peer Coaching Clinics appear to have distinct advantages. Participants meet other women and are starting to arrange to play matches with each other. They benefit from the group discussion of possible plays and the merits of alternatives.

There have been some unanticipated benefits. For example, one participant recently shared particularly helpful tips from the week’s session along with the WWB YouTube featuring Art Benjamin on Using Heroes to Improve Your Game with the other participants. It’s a journey, and we’re learning together!

Given our experience to date, we’ve decided to revamp the program, focusing on the group Peer Coaching Clinics. Like book clubs, holding the number of attendees to no more than 10 seems an ideal size to foster learning, engagement of everyone, and creation of a supportive social community of women players. We are planning to start a Clinic for Beginners/Novice players. We will add new groups as necessary moving forward, e.g., if we reach more than 10 regular attendees. We are starting to line up substitutes when a given leader has a conflict and can’t make a session.

This program is a great way to meet fellow players, practice your game no matter your level,
and hone your skills playing online. 

How to Participate

  • Register on the Women’s World of Backgammon website to join the Peer Coaching Clinics. You will receive notices of weekly group Peer Coaching Clinics on Zoom. They are currently held at 6 pm Eastern US time on Fridays. Karen Davis leads the session. Melanie Hughes or other coaches substitute if Karen is traveling.

  • Watch the video where Melanie Hughes and Karen Davis demonstrate how a peer coach can help a student learn using Heroes' Consultation Match feature. 

  • You'll also enjoy learning about Melanie Hughes's journey from raw beginner to strong intermediate in three short years. She decided to learn one new activity every year. Three years ago she picked learning backgammon; a few weeks ago she finished third in the New York Metropolitan Backgammon Open Intermediate division with almost 100 entrants! Her secret – reading backgammon books, taking lessons, playing Doubles with excellent partners. She and her backgammon partner Jerry Shea won the 2022 Sunny Florida Doubles, defeating Michy Kageyama and Kazuko Numazawa in the final. Recently she's been using a Peer Coach, Jacob Atie from Panama, using Heroes Consultation Match Mode.

  • If you don’t currently have a Heroes.BackgammonStudio.com account (free), you can still participate by watching the match on Zoom as Karen Shares her Screen. 

  • But you’ll want a free Heroes account. Anyone with an account can invite you and enter your email into the membership system so that you can then fill out the form to apply. Don’t worry – we’ll help you through this step!

  • If you'd like to participate in the program click below and fill in the requested information. 

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