Who is Coaching the Coach?

I must confess that most of my blogs have been and will continue to be focused around the development of the player. I make strong reference to how important it is to ensure we create a player-centered environment and for me that is essential. However, as we focus on the development of the player, the question I pose is who is helping to develop the coach? Who coaches the coach? After all, if we want to provide the best learning environment then surely we have to ensure the coach is doing his job.

I am sure many people will say that there are coaching courses available, which provide opportunities for CPD and sure enough these opportunities further our understanding and help us pass an exam, giving us the required qualifications. These courses will help us learn from others experiences and present new ideas that we can bring into our own coaching environment, but these opportunities are sporadic; once every few years or once a year if workshops and in-service training are available. These are courses and training days to further our knowledge, but they are not providing us the consistent feedback, the coaching that we require to coach our coaches. Players are coached every time they take part in a session, whether it is the environment the coach creates or the feedback coaching points delivered. So I raise the question again, who is coaching the coach?

A good friend of mine, who I have recently been working with, brought the idea of coaching coaches to my attention and gave me a different prospective in the way in which we should work together as coaches. He is a coach who works with coaches, and coaches the coaches to coach each other. A mouthful, but hopefully you understand where I am coming from. He encourages, for example, us as coaches working together to build a positive working relationship and to consider how we are perceived, how to feedback to one another, reflect together and help each other to improve as coaches, educators and people. This in turn will ensure that we provide the service / program that our players require. In order to achieve this we need to establish a clear philosophy that we as coaches all believe in and are working towards. This requires us to not only work with one another on the planning and delivery, but during the reflection and the review stages.

Without going into too much detail and providing just enough to provoke and encourage food for thought, and of course generate more business for my friend I want to draw reference on my own personal experience. This process has encouraged me to look at things from a different perspective, ask questions that I may not have asked before. It has definitely improved the working relationship I have with my peers. Developing the confidence to feedback and accept feedback because as a coach I want to continue moving forward, developing and becoming the best coach / player developer that I can. Which in turn, will enable me to provide the optimal learning environment and development program for the players. Through this process Ihave been developing and will continue to improve upon a new set of skills. Especially, working with others, building confidence to accept and provide feedback. Ultimately, we are all working towards the same goal and therefore, it is paramount that we build that relationships that enable us to create environments that develop successful coaches thus develop successful players.

I conclude with this, focus on providing a player-centered environment and program, but take time to develop coach-centered program to help progress the coaches. Try to surround yourself with people who have a similar philosophy, ideas and goals. From this, relationships can develop, and coaches can work with coaches. Remember; help develop the coach to help develop the player.

 “The more I learn about myself, the more I understand you.” Kevin Poriot

Just Short of The Line

How many times do you see it when athletes are required to do some running or physical activity they turn just short of the line or don’t go the full range with an exercise. If you add that over the number of runs or reps they do in a session, then add that over a number of sessions in a week, month and a year and possible even more. Not only do they add in a numerical value, but show a representation in the personality of the athlete themselves and what they are willing to do in order to achieve their goal.

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What are people willing to do to get to the top? Are they prepared to do more that what is required? Are they willing to go to the next level / beyond the next line? If athletes are to give themselves the best chance of achieving their goal / dream they need to avoid shortening the distance to success and make sure they go all the way. This is what will define the personality of an athlete.

Why do I draw attention to this topic? There is a growing concern where athletes believe that their natural ability will get them to the top, they believe that they don’t need to work hard because they are naturally gifted (a fixed mindset). This is reinforced with the environment and the type of feedback that is provided to these athletes by parents, teachers and coaches. For the long-term effect the environment and feedback is a critical in the mindset of these young athletes. If an athlete is consistently told how good they are, without associating any success to hard work, why is there a need for them to go all the way to the line?

Develop the Person to Develop the Player

The title of this piece sums itself up in its entirety. As clubs, managers, coaches and so forth we need to focus on making sure that the environment we create, from the philosophies we work within, to how we feedback to the player are developing the person to develop the player. Therefore, making sure the learning environment we create is a player centered and we are aware of the both benefits and the consequences of our actions. For example, the feedback we provide a player can encourage two very different mindsets, one of which wishes to work hard and feels like they need to work hard to develop and the other which can lead to complacency and a false impression of there own development.

Success comes from knowing that you did your best

to become the best that you are capable of becoming

John Wooden

In order to manage this it is essential there is understanding and consistency from bottom through to top. Coaches, parents and players are educated in the philosophy and objective of the club. This is reinforced on and off the pitch, developing more independent rather dependent players.

If this is carried out correctly, the result, players become more self aware of what is required of them, where they are in their development, what and how they are going to improve. We will inevitably create independent people who take responsibility for their development. Instead of having to be told, they ask, they request. An example I use, after training we should be telling the players to go in after wanting to stay out and practice, and not to have to be telling them to stay out to practice on their areas that require development. It is a player centred environment, driven by players, educated by coaches.

There are many people who fail to achieve their potential, not because of a lack of ability, but because of a lack of good character and personality. Ability can only flourish if an athlete is willing to apply themselves and work hard. Therefore, as coaches it is imperative that we create the right environment to encourage development of the person to help develop the player.