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Posted in: Continuing Professional Development (CPD)

Coaching shortcomings: can you help new coaches by sharing your experiences?

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  • Here at sports coach UK and Coachwise, we are experimenting with new ways of learning for today’s busy coaches and PE teachers.

    We have decided to pilot some real-life, decision-making scenarios that give new coaches and PE teachers the opportunity to practice on-the-spot decision-making in a virtual environment. They will not replace existing programmes but rather, will sit along side them to help build newcomers confidence.

    Before we can do this, we need to establish the most frequent mistakes new coaches and PE teachers make.

    So Connected Coaches, can you help by sharing your experiences or observations?

    Can you think of a specific example of where you (or someone else) made a decision which, with the benefit of hindsight,  was perhaps not the best decision in that situation?
    For each example, could you explain:

    1 the context/situation
    2 why you took that particular decision eg you thought that was what the club would want you to do or what perhaps what you think the parent would want 
    3 The consequences of that decision
    4 What you would do instead with the benefit of hindsight.

    Please don't reveal the identity of people involved

    Acting Community Manager
     · Rob Maaye, Emma Tomlinson and 1 other like this.
     
  • Hi Melanie 

     

    I've been coaching for a number of years now going from performance coaching to coaching in school. When first starting out I didn't have much confidence as a coach and felt like other coaches and parents were watching my every movement and judging me. It wasn't until I started working throughout schools that I gained more confidence.   I have made many mistakes which I'm so glad I have done as this has helped me become a better and more confident coach. 

    Even though we know as coaches we should use session plans I decided I could do sessions without session plans, I used to think I can do this off the top of my head. I hadn't had much experience with working in a school environment or with children of many different ages and abilities.  

    I was sent into a school working there 3 days a week working 8am until 5pm. 4 different lessons a day, a dinner time club as well as a afterschool club, some of the children was great to coach others not so great.  

    I never had support during Pe,  had many children disrupting the lesson however,  due to the fact I hadn't planned the sessions properly and didn't really know much about the sports I was delivering I had created my own problems,  I asked for help on numerous occasions but was ignored, I was taken away from the school for many reasons the head teacher had give, which really upset me infact I nearly left my job as I felt I wasn't good enough. I was put on probation which put my confidence as a coach to an all time low I was really scared of coaching in any school, my hours was dropped I was very unhappy. 

    I thought it was easier to do sessions without planning. 

    I didn't have enough experience with multi sports to deliver the session properly.

    I had no behaviour management skills.

    Very low confidence.

    Lessons where unsafe due to bad behaviour management skills.  Children not listening.  

    No help when I asked so I just kept going. 

    I decided I needed to get back on track and start again, I knew I was a good coach and was able to deliver all sessions,  I told a friend of mine who was a head teacher at a school who helped children with behaviour problems and that had been expelled from school, I decided to go and help out voluntary, every Friday I turned up learned new way of dealing with children,  learned how children felt and the reasons why they miss behaved during lessons.   I learned so much from these guy's. I soon became more confident.  

    I started to plan every session. Read about every sport, learn new and exciting game's,  I attended a first aid course as well as child welfare course, I really hadn't realised how unprofessional and unprepared I really was, that coaching a class full of children was far different to coaching children that wanted to be coached. 

    Since this incident, I always ask teachers if any children have problems,  what to look out for,  I make sessions, fun exciting and appropriate for the sports, age and ability.  I'm always trying out new and exciting game's .  I'm safety aware throughout the whole session. 

    I have learned so much and still continue to learn. 

    Hopefully others will learn from this as I did, if your not sure ask for help, keep asking until you get help. 

    Today in Pe a child came up to me and said miss I'm so excited about Pe today I love all your Pe lessons,  this made me proud and put the biggest smile on my face. 

    Keep a log of any situation,  good sessions,bad session,  what works what don't work. This has helped me become a confident, better prepared and a good listener.  

     · Melanie Mallinson, Andre Burger and 1 other like this.
     
  • Hi Melanie

    My biggest blunder?? Not sure it's a blunder such as falling over my shoelaces but it's something I used to have a habit of falling into.

    In my younger days as a coach I far too often assumed I was the expert and knew what was best for my athletes, based on my own beliefs and values. 

    I like to believe I'm much more more balanced nowadays and take the time to really get to know my athletes and understand what THEY want to get from our coaching sessions rather than what I want to get. I think this just comes with experience, and in my case, older age!!

     · Melanie Mallinson, Andre Burger and 2 others like this.
     
  • Hi Emma

    Thank you for your honest and and real-life account. It's really insightful as always. 

    So to sum up, key points for you Emma are:

    1 Plan every session

    2 Get to know and understand the children

    3 Manage behaviour well

    4 Keep asking for help

    5 Continue to learn and listen

    Acting Community Manager
     · Emma Tomlinson likes this.
     
  • Thanks Steve. 

    I get what you mean. We don't know what we don't know - ever. 

    Acting Community Manager
     
  • Sorry Melanie that's forgot to add that bit. 

    I think as a coach you should be honest,  I'm unsure how many people have been honest about there coaching experience's,  I for one have learned so much and definitely bounced back. I would rather give you real life than some old pile of rubbish that isn't true. 😀 

     · Melanie Mallinson likes this.
     
  • Hi Melanie

    2 main blunder I remember from coaching in my early 20s in USA

    1. Lack of empathy - I struggled with the lesser ability kids to wrap my head around their lack of competence with basic techniques and/or skills. This resulted in frustration, both at them and in my ability to make any perceived difference. It took time, coach observation and self relfection to help develop this side of my coaching. Over time I realize that there are so many factors affecting the kids I coach and I will not have the same impact on every player.

    2. Not understanding motivation in female players - Working with girls soccer teams from U13-U18 I was too results focused and looking for a level of football that was beyond them. Reading my first book by UNC coach Anson Dorrance really highlighted the differences in coaching female and male athletes. I specificially remember him discussing how players who had won national titles and world cups still focused on non-football events when reminiscing. This showed me how the social side of sport is so important to girls and I felt I became I better coach as I attempted to understand this more.

     · Rob Maaye, Emma Tomlinson and 2 others like this.
     
  • Gary, thank you for your reflections. Getting to know participants and understanding their wants and needs seems to be so crucial to coaching - at every level.

    Acting Community Manager
     
  • This is a great question!

    I can name a million mistakes I have made to date. I've only just recently become comfortable with the fact that there will be millions more too.

    When I first started coaching I was thrown into the world of high performance straight away. I watched, listened and learnt from some of the most accomplished gymnastics coaches in the world, and as a result gained a vast amount of knowledge of technique and skill development for the world stage.

    However, where I was flawed was in the junior development coaching required to prepare an athlete for this level. I had skipped it all, and that exposed significant gaps in my education.

    I failed to recognice the importance of learning to 'coach' and instead focused all of my attention on the development of high level skills and technique. I became very good as a technician, but a useless 'teacher.'

    In hindsight, I would have spent as much time developing my 'soft skills' as my technical skills, and invested time with coaches who were 'masters' at coaching a junior age group, and not just world level athletes. 

    Hindsight is a wonderful thing ...

     · Melanie Mallinson likes this.
     
  • Hi Melaine,

    As a PE teacher and coach I have been working on trying to change the mind set of what a coach "looks" like now days to fellow PE colleagues. I feel that if you are coaching juniors or club level players then a lot can cross over. 

    1- Get to know your players in drill have the same outcome, however the focus could be different for different players.

    2- The mind set of the group your coaching has to understood. In a juniors and club players this can vary from those that just want to have fun, to those that want to player higher up. You have to thinking about their pathways and how to support this, but also how to cater for this in your session. When looking adults this dependent on the group you coach and gender. Club players may have been sat behind a desk all day and just want to play. Women are very different to coach to men, and your mind set as a coach has to change to who your coaching.

    3- Behaviour management in schools and clubs for juniors make thing fun and linked to their experience. However even my adult women love a warm up game of Sponge bob square pants and sharks and fishes.

    4- Organisation v coaching points one I have only recently learnt about is get them set up and doing the drill only inparting the organisational points. Once they have got this then stop them and give coaching/teaching points. Means they retain what the focus if the drill is and not over loaded with information.

    5- Share the journey with players, tell them what they are going to look at over the session. (This is something taken from teaching) A bit like the news, tell them the highlights/ main aspects. Go into each in more detail- the drills. Then make sure recap main points.

    6- All aspects of the player need to be worked on- especially if a junior coach. Not just about skill development. They might not stay in your sport, so have they got the skills that are transferable?

    As a PE teacher I have been always given the "mixed bottom" sets. The reason I was given it " you are good with them" I wouldn't say I was good with them I just plan for their ability and mind set, which to me is the sign of a good teacher and coach. Other teachers  don't understand/can't cope with less competative or able players/students.

     · Melanie Mallinson likes this.
     
  • Think this is a great topic.

    As a young coach , when you first start no one tells you anything is no guide and is defiantly no wrong way  from what the experience coaches say to you.

    they say explore and find the coaching style that suits you. But they never say has to suit the club or the organisation so your expectation of what your end result is might be different then the oranisations goals / expectation 

    My advise to all young coaches is to ask the question what does the club want elite or participation as children this day's play the sport for different reasons.

    As young coaches we want to work with elite,we want to help players succeed to higher level and here another question pops up.Do we know who we cater our services to !! As here is where the coaching philosophies have to adjust and rethink our approach 

    I have made the mistake in thinking a elite club want to develop only elite athlete and I learn from error that that wasn't the case.

    The question  for me is whats the aim of your organisation and does your philosophy / coaching style fits with there's.

     · Melanie Mallinson likes this.
     
  • On 19/09/15 6:38 PM, Nick Ruddock said:

    In hindsight, I would have spent as much time developing my 'soft skills' as my technical skills ..

    Thanks Nick for your honest reflections. 

    May I ask which 'soft skills' were the most important for you in your coaching development?

    Also I wonder, do you think soft skills develop with experience anyway? Would you have been open to developing your 'soft skills' in the early days?

    Acting Community Manager
     
  • On 20/09/15 2:59 AM, Cristina Stanciuca said:

    My advise to all young coaches is to ask the question what does the club want elite or participation as children this day's play the sport for different reasons.

    Thanks Cristina.

    You raise a great point. 

    Who decides on coaching goals? Players, parents, the club or the new coach?

    This reminds of the dilemma primary schools find themsleves when determining the scchool ethos.  How have members gone about establishing a club ethos?

    This would make a great new discussion post in itself perhaps?

    Acting Community Manager
     
  • On 19/09/15 9:52 PM, Wendy Russell said:

    I wouldn't say I was good with them I just plan for their ability and mind set, which to me is the sign of a good teacher and coach

    Thanks Wendy. Being a coach and a PE teacher must give you a unique insight. I've noticed there are a number of you on ConnectedCoaches. I'm sure there is a lot more you can teach us.

    Your post and other members' posts have got me thinking though. It sounds obvious now but  background and experiences outside of coaching may determine what people want from their first learning in coaching.

    For example, an accomplished youth worker thinking about running a football session on a Friday night would perhaps want to acquire new skills in coaching planning as a priority, whereas an ex professional Football player starting up a youth football club might want to gain a greater empathy with the participants and learn behaviour management techniques as a priority. 

    Now that's a challenge ...

    We want to let newbies have a go at being a coach by presenting them with decision-making scenarios. So to connect with learners, it  we might need a number of scenarios to reflect the diverse backgrounds of coaches - even at the pre-coaching level. This could be  fun. 

    Acting Community Manager
     
  • On 17/09/15 12:40 PM, Gary Fowler said:

    Lack of empathy - I struggled with the lesser ability kids to wrap my head around their lack of competence with basic techniques and/or skills. This resulted in frustration, both at them and in my ability to make any perceived difference. It took time, coach observation and self relfection to help develop this side of my coaching. Over time I realize that there are so many factors affecting the kids I coach and I will not have the same impact on every player.

    Hi Gary

    I can relate to that. When I think back to coaching my first team of teenage gymnasts through to British Championships, I was 26 and I projected too many of my own expectations onto the individuals with regards to managing workloads and prioritising things. I wasn't taking what they had going on in their lives enough. It took me a few cycles of going through the process over a few years to become more empathetic and manage different individuals as part of one team, each with different situations outside of training. Some had high pressure studies going on and others were completely immersed in their training and pinned a lot on a successful outcome.  It all comes down to understanding your participants, which I got lots better at.

     · Melanie Mallinson likes this.
     
  • Hello

    I think a problem based approach to coach education is an excellent route to take.  It has been shown in literature and through the experience of traditional coach education that the process of 'learning to coach' can not take place effectively out of context in a classroom.  However with 'real life' probelms to solve the context is preserved making the task of reflecting upon that problem much more meaningful and relevant.  

    Great idea. 

    It would be good to challenge coaches observation skills more in the early part of their education.  This potentially could involve presenting them with short video clips of movements or skill within the context of their sport and asking them to reflect on what they see and what they would do next. It would be neat to use this opportunity to make coaches confident early on in their coaching career that a good decision is sometimes 'I am going to ask someone else for advice' or 'I need to learn more in this area first' instilling an openness to development and sharing.  

    I hope my ramblings help add something to the converstaion and project.

    Regards

    Matt

    The tricky part is identifying appropriate scenarios as these will be very sport and context specific.  

     · Melanie Mallinson and Nick Ruddock like this.
     
  • Hi Melanie,

    Sorry for the delay! You are right, soft skills develop over time, as do technical skills. But the penny didn't drop right away on the importance of soft skills. It was blatantly obvious to me that technical knowledge of the sport was key to successful coaching, so that is what I pursued.

    If it were just as apparent that the non technical skills were critical to my success then yes, I would have invested time there even at the early stages.

    The most critical soft skills for me have been my ability to communicate effectively (to athletes and other coaches/support staff) and the understanding of 'me.'

    Identifying my values, core beliefs and principles has been a real game changer for me. This took some time, and was accelerated with the help of the UK Sport ECAP course that I was lucky enough to be part of. 

     · Melanie Mallinson likes this.
     
  • On 28/09/15 5:46 PM, Matthew Wood said:

    I hope my ramblings help add something to the converstaion and project.

    Thanks Matt

     It is a relief to know that someone who is both a coach and part of  coach education system thinks it is the right way to go. 

    You are are so right though the trick will be in the story-telling - making the scenarios genuine. 

    Acting Community Manager
     
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