Self Awareness pt. 3: The Fitness Coach

the advice I would give to ‘Me’ – the 1st team fitness coach

Having just moved up into a full time position as a 1st Team Fitness Coach, you have been brought in to bridge the gap between the fitness and the football I want to provide ‘Me’ – The 1st Team Fitness Coach with the 6 pieces of advice.

Soccer - Barclays Premier League - Wolverhampton Wanderers v Fulham - Molineux

1.Understand how your role can impact on others and establish good working relationships

The days have gone when people work in isolation. It is important that you understand how your role will impact on others by understanding their roles. Work closely with the Manager, the coaches, the analyst and medical staff because everyone will have an impact on each other. Understand what they do, why they do it and how it links in with the work you will be carrying out. Go out of your way to observe, notice and ask questions, this will provide you will a good starting point.

2.Building rapport

Developing and building a rapport with players is very important. When you first go in players will make judgment on you, before you have even had a chance to say a word. So when you start working with the players, communicate, observe, and notice, showing emotional intelligence to understand the people you work with. Use the opportunity when working and chatting within small groups and individual sessions. Building this rapport will help develop trust and this will enable you to get the best out of the people you work with.

Pics Australia 2009 Pre-Season

3.Educate the players

Once you establish the trust, then take the opportunity to educate the players by encouraging them to understand the ‘Why’. You will get questioned, challenged, argued with, but players just want to know ‘Why’. They will be curious, interested, they will want to test you and challenge you in front of others, but overall they just want to believe in why and trust what you are doing will help them become a better player. So embrace the chance to educate and work with.

4.Embrace the chance to be taken out of your comfort zone

Working with high profile players, within pressure situations will take you out from your comfort zone. Make sure you embrace this opportunity to develop and improve yourself. You will make mistakes, you will get things wrong, you will be challenged and you will encounter disagreements. This is part of the course, this is good stuff that will help you learn and take you further.

5.Don’t take it personally

In front of you lies an exciting new challenge. One with new obstacles, pressures, excitements, which will put you in situations that will sometimes encourage you to doubt yourself and question yourself. Learn from them but refrain from taking them personally. Avoid dwelling on it or beating yourself up. After all people often says things and think things based on emotion before reason. It is important that you use your skill of reflection, at the appropriate time and with reason. This will help you to keep it all in perspective, learn from it and move forward.

6.Think outside the box

One of your strengths is your creativity, your ability to bring about new ideas and ways of thinking. Continue this within your new role, really focus on the specific demands of not just the individual fitness needs but their positional needs. Look at their movements, the decisions they make, the way they play the game, what is expected of them, the needs of the manager and develop your sessions based on that. Coach them back to fitness, don’t just get them back fit.

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