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What’s the best coaching advice you’ve ever been given? That’s one of the first questions I asked ConnectedCoaches members when I started in my role as Community Manager. The response was terrific, with coaches from many different sports and with a wide range of experiences sharing what they had learnt over the years.
Below, you’ll see some of the wisdom they’ve shared. Whether you’re an experienced coach or just starting out on your coaching journey, each member’s advice is something I’m sure you can benefit from.
Emma Tomlinson – Always be fun and exciting
As an athletics coach, in my final exam, I was so frightened. The examiner said to me: ‘I’ve never seen someone coach with such a fun element. Don’t let anyone take that away! You are the sort of coach we need.’
Michael Antrobus – Keep it as close to the game as possible
This is the advice I pass on when working with coaches – if it is close to the game, players/athletes can transfer the skills.
Phillip Rhodes – Coach the person, not the sport
There are so many great nuggets of advice I’ve received over the years. A recent Coaching Edge magazine had a leading squash coach quote: ‘Have pride in your coaching, not arrogance.’ I suppose a proud coach would reflect and adapt in response to those nuggets of advice. In the same way, we hope players reflect and adapt in response to those nuggets we offer them.
‘Coach the person, not the sport’ is probably the most important principle I try to embed in my coaching.
Andy Edwards – Be yourself
I think the best advice I have been given is: ‘Be yourself.’ I am always trying to improve as a coach, and we all need to be like a chameleon at times, but it is important for me to be myself. That might be my passion/sense of humour/willingness to improvise etc.
Jon Woodward – Self-praise is no recommendation
Given to me by the man who gave me my first role in coaching: ‘Self-praise is no recommendation.’
Paul Thompson – Be flexible and think on your feet
Things don’t always go to plan, and you need to be able to be creative and adapt when they don’t.
Noe Orozco-Segoviano – It’s just a game, enjoy it
I used to be an American football player so I passed the best bits I learnt from my coaches to the children I coached in that sport. Before a quarter-final, a crucial comment our head coach said in the pep talk that put me in my right level of arousal and mindset (I was over-aroused) was: ‘This is just a game,enjoy it!’ And it worked! We won, I was the MVP and had the best game of my life! From then on, I’ve been adapting the quote according to the sport/activity, and say it to the right athlete/person at the right moment.
Gary Fowler – Coach the person, then the player
Linking in to what Noe said about mindset, coupled with workshops I’ve attended on sports psychology as well as my own personal non-sport experiences: ‘Coach the person, then the player’ is the best advice I’ve received.
So much literature talks about technical/tactical/physical/psycho-social etc, but surely psychology underpins them all! I had a chance to discuss this with Dan Abrahams and suggested a model that represents the four legs of a table, with the psychology being the ground. If the ground is uneven, it will impact on the whole balance of the table.
You may have a player, for example, with wonderful technique in golf, but if his/her mindset is off or negative, it impacts on the consistency of that technique. Working in girls’ soccer for many years in the USA too only highlighted to me the importance of what I call the ‘levelness’ of the person in order for them to perform as a player.
Claire Morrison – Be true to yourself
I have found this the best piece of advice on my coaching journey. As we develop as coaches, it is easy to try to adopt so many different styles and examples, but it is important to retain what makes you you. It is easy to get distracted by trying to be something you are not. We can all develop and build on the foundations we already have to become more effective coaches.
Andy Grant – Learn everyone’s name as quickly as possible
When I was starting out on my coaching journey, working on the summer camps in the USA, the senior staff used to give lots of invaluable tips and advice. One piece of advice that has really stayed with me over the years and I would consider the best is: ‘Learn everyone’s name as quickly as possible.’
This might not seem earth-shattering advice, but they highlighted how much easier it is to control the group, to make a connection, to personalise the feedback and to develop rapport. And most importantly, it makes the kids feel good when they hear their name. Children will recall long after they have forgotten your amazing drill or demonstration how they were made to feel by you. Coaches create emotions, emotions make memories.
So even though I don’t work on soccer camps, delivering to hundreds of new faces every week, I still remember this when I am starting with a new team or when new players arrive at my session.
Daniel Edson – Never stifle creativity and never stop learning
The two best pieces of coaching advice that I have ever been given were to always allow the athletes to be creative during training and never stifle that creativity. Secondly, to never stop learning and to always remember the importance that learning from both coaches from my sport and coaches from other sports can have in my development.
David Turner – If you don’t believe in something, you’ll fall for everything
My mentor often says: ‘If you don’t believe in something, you’ll fall for everything!’ Wise words, I feel, particularly in a technical event where there’s sometimes more than one way to the end goal.
Malcolm Fenton – Coach as much as is necessary, not as much as you can
Mine actually comes from advice to the athlete, but is also well suited to the coach: ‘Train (coach) as much as is necessary, not as much as you can.’
Louis Richards – You don’t know what you don’t know, and to have influence when coaching, you need to add value
For me personally, two bits of advice I found particular pertinent were:
Louisa-Jayne Daniell – Be clear
I have been lucky enough to have lots of different and invaluable pieces of advice passed on to me by various coaching and teaching professionals. I think the best coaching advice I have had is to think that if someone asked the players what your session was about, what the coaching points given were and why this is important in a game, would they be able to give clear answers? This has always helped me focus on whether I have actually got the message across to this particular group of individuals, and if I did not, why did it not get across?
Colin Huffen – Coach the people in front of you, not the session
Andrew Beaven – You are the players’ coach, they are not your players
I can’t remember where I first heard this (maybe I didn’t realise how true it was at the time), but one piece of advice I always try to remember: ‘You are the players’ coach, they are not your players!’
Ricardo Vasconcelos – Never promise something you can’t give, and how ‘big’ they want to be in the future is more important than how ‘big’ they are at the moment
I’ve had a lot of good pieces of advice during the years I’ve been coaching. There are two quotes that constantly come to mind when coaching my teams:
Ellie-Rae Daly – You will always be learning
The best advice I’ve been given was that, as a coach, you will always be learning. This is not because you are not a good coach, but it is because you could be better. As a coach, you should embrace knowledge from other coaches as everyone has different and new ideas that can only help us develop.
Rachel Whyatt – Always talk at their level, try to structure practice to keep kids moving, and treat players as individuals
I’ve never had a role model as a coach; sadly, the opposite so I know what not to do and how not to make them feel. So good communication with the players, give them opportunities and don’t be negative. I didn’t take well to being shouted at all the time. However, these three pieces of advice struck a chord with me:
What’s the best coaching advice you’ve ever been given? Let us know by leaving a comment below.
The day you stop learning something, give it up.
Work with as many different coaches as you can, especially those with more experience/knowledge than you
Always "provide an environment in which others may prosper". Served me well!
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