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

That’s Football….

I came across this recent quote “The most dangerous phrase in the language is ‘we’ve always done it this way’ “ Rear Admiral Grace Hooper. Which made me think about football, coaching and player development.

How often do we hear people admit defeat by the phrase ‘well that’s football’? This is one comment that bothers me and one that I can’t accept. If we all said that, and accepted that nothing would move forward. Change can only occur if people believe it is possible and are willing to do something about it. Unfortunately, too many people are willing to accept, they don’t wish to upset or want to rock the boat, but for change to happen people need to not accept ‘well that’s football’?

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Einstein came up with one of the most poignant quotes, which encapsulates such an attitude ‘Insanity: Doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting different results’. So if you accept that is football then that could constitute insanity. I know, it all sounds extreme but we need to encourage people to look beyond the norm and what tradition has led us to believe. So, has the new generation what can we reflect on and see that requires improvement, development and change. We must be willing to look beyond what we are told and ask questions, critically analyse and then provide a solution. You don’t have to be a maverick to go against tradition.

My thoughts, advice for what it is worth would be to reflect, analyse and consider what could be improved for the development of the player. After all, there is no one right way; there is a way that suits the needs of the players. Don’t leave it to the one who shouts the loudest; rather encourage the ones who know, to also have a voice. From my experiences, I have seen how players have changed, coaching has evolved and practice generally has developed. I still see a lot more that requires change and development, often for things to improve and develop, we as coaches, educators and player developers need to continually look to how we can improve and develop our current programs. The game is continually changing and this will impact on how we work with our players. This includes all levels of the game from the money and demands at the top end to the influences and impact at the grass roots end. We need to be opened minded and be willing to make changes ourselves and not accept that ‘this is football’, because if we are not prepared to makes changes, we will continue to become frustrated with the system or coaching methods or attitudes of people in the game.

“The world as we have created it is a process of our thinking. It cannot be changed without changing our thinking” Albert Einstein