On March 23rd Coaching Hampshire & IOW hosted its first Talent Coaches Breakfast Club. The event, held at St. Mary’s Football Stadium and delivered in association with sports coach UK, saw more than 40 local coaches who work with talented performers gather to learn more about the psychology of performance with industry specialist and internationally published author, Andy McCann.
Andy is well known in the professional sporting community having worked with a string of elite performers including the World Cup winning Welsh Rugby Team. His session focussed on the concept of Mental Toughness and Emotional Intelligence, looking at practical applications and methods that coaches could use on the frontline. Andy talked about how Mental Toughness is a state in which athletes are acutely focussed, generally referred to in some publications as the ‘optimal state of arousal’. This, McCann explains is very different to athletes being relaxed.
“We don’t want our athletes to be relaxed as this implies they may not be mentally ready to make decisions and respond appropriately in the heat of battle. We equally don’t want them to avoid being nervous. Nerves tell us that we understand the importance of the moment…Being focussed is the key to delivering our best performances”
Over the 2-hour session Andy used a combination of lecture, group discussion, personal reflection, pictures and video to create a really interactive session in which coaches were forced to challenge their existing perceptions and beliefs about mental toughness and mental training.
“How often do you spend with your athletes on Mental Training?” he asked. Whilst almost all of the coaches admitted to spending some time on mental training, many of the coaches admitted to not knowing where to start or whether their particular approach was based on a scientific, evidence-based approach.
After the session feedback the coaches was very positive with one coach saying “there was a good mix of opportunities to listen and contribute.” with another commenting “in view of the limited time frame the delivery was spent on and moved [on] without distraction…but still allowed the participants time to express their views. Andy is obviously a pro!”
Coaches also highlighted the benefits of networking with other talent coaches and that in future some time should be devoted to some structured networking. I for one spoke to Jan Crabtree, a former scUK and Sport Hampshire & IOW Coach of Year, about the possibility of running some joint Netball/Basketball activities over the summer time, a conversation that may not have happened if not for this unique event.
After the event coaches were asked to identify other topics they would find useful and following a national review of the programme a new list of topics has been pulled together. The topics include: -
- Measuring & Developing Resilience & Mental Toughness
- Adherence – The Power of Athlete ‘Buy-In’
- Elite Communication Skills
- What is a master Talent Coach Anyway?
- Assessing and developing physical competence
- Using the ‘C’ System’ to develop excellence in coaching
- Developing Talent – The role of the coach from the frontline
- ‘What about me’ – Athlete/Player perspectives on talent coaching
- Talent ID to junior national squad – the journey
So, Coaching Hampshire & IOW have got busy and have provisionally booked 3 topics and speakers for the coming year. The events will take place on Friday mornings at venues across the county. The first will be on Friday 26th October, the second at the end of January 2013 and the third date will be in March. Session topics will reflect the feedback we received following the first event and we may be able to add other events, dependent on demand.
Although our pilot event was free, the new series will come at subsidised cost. Rumours are that it will be around £15-20 per head, but no final decisions have been made at this point. All dates and topics should be confirmed by August 2012, so go to our website or check on our Facebook page for updates.
If you have ideas for topics you’d like to see delivered, please send them to firstname.lastname@example.org
Every now and then the meetings we attend at work can be really refreshing and inspire us [yes, inspire] to do things differently…
I recently attended a meeting, which made me think about how I coach. In particular it made me think about how coaches relate to their athlets and the preparation of their training sessions. As much as I love coaching some days even coaching seems like hard work. When you’re pushing for continual improvements in performance its not unusual for the tensions and pressures to result in frayed nerves, conflicts between players and conflicts between players and coaches.
As the coach you can’t always mitigate against all the potential conflicts that will arise in these pressured environments, but there are a few things you can influence. Here are some of the suggestions managers at Hampshire County Council are looking into to create stronger, more productive teams: -
- More team/people time
If coaches could concentrate on just coaching, then we’d immediately free up more time to build rapport with athletes, check out the latest developments in teaching, communication, fundamental movement video analysis (the list is endless), which would make our coaching more effective and efficient. Finding someone to support your efforts by filming practices and games, taking stats, or managing your team can free-up valuable time. In Hampshire and the Isle of Wight there are a plethora of willing and capable students willing to support local clubs as they try to develop the skills to be fully competent coaches, administrators and volunteers.
- Catch people doing something good and tell them
Everyone likes to hear they’re doing a good job. It doesn’t matter how confident or resilient your athletes and coaches are, getting positive feedback makes people feel good. Take time to tell people when they’ve done something well. It could be an improvement in their technique, reaching a specific performance goal, their effort in training [or a game] or simply improved decision-making under pressure.
- Value happy staff and teams
Your coaching staff and volunteers are key to getting the most out of you and your athletes. Be careful not to take them for granted. Take time to meet with your coaches and volunteers to provide them with updates on the progress of your athletes. Remind them how important their contribution is, no matter how big or small. Whether its the person who makes the post-game teas, the minibus driver or your assistant coach – they all need to know that their efforts help the proverbial boat go faster.
- Trust more
You can’t do it all on your own and neither can you control all the variables involved in developing improved performance. Encourage your athletes to take more responsibility for training sessions by letting them choose the content (from a pre-prepared list of options). Encourage athletes to lead group/team talks. Each week give a different athlete the opportunity to lead the warm-up or cool down.
Why not encourage your assistant coaches to lead a session? It doesn’t mean you have to stop coaching, but allows your athletes to hear a different voice and maybe gives you a different perspective of your coaches and athletes.
- Your staff as customers
When you think about being a customer you want excellent service, to feel fully satisfied and recieve value for money. If you’re working with volunteers, consider ways that you can add value to their time with you and the club by giving them skills, recognition and positive experiences. Offer them training or opportunities to take on more responsibility. But its also about the little things too! Every conversation or exchange between you and your support staff should end with them feeling listened to, supported and ready to come back for more.
- Have more fun
Highly pressurised training environments need to have a pressure release valve. Sometimes its the event itself, which allows all the training and hardwork you’ve put in to be expressed in a symphony of controlled movement, creativity and confident execution (on the good days). However, ocassionaly competition only leads to more stress. Whatever kind of day you and your athletes are having athletes should be reminded that competitive sport is [serious] fun. Athletes who can link hard work and pressure to fun are more likely to stay poised, focussed and motivated to put in the necessary effort to move towards your [agreed] goal when put under pressure.
If there’s no fun or laughter in your coaching, then there’s something seriously wrong. You don’t have to become a stand-up comic to make this happen – simply try to create a training environment where fun features every week. Tell jokes, play fun games in training, share a funny story. Encourage athletes to create distractionary activities on long road trips (ever tried playing Pictionary on a moving bus – safety first).
More lessons from business
Over the coming months Coaching Hampshire & IOW is working with business more and more to learn lessons about how to coach more effectively. If you’re interested in learning more, check out our Coach Education Month or go directly to our events in March 2013.
Welcome to Coaching Hampshire & IOW
By John Driscoll, Executive Director (Public Affairs and Communications) sports coach UK
If, like me, you’ve been glued to your TV during every spare moment of the past week, you’ll have noticed a really encouraging aspect of the excellent BBC coverage. As well as using expert commentators who are able to talk knowledgeably about each sport, what has set 2012 apart from previous years is the emphasis given to the coaches behind the athletes. Read more…
When we arrived at the University of Winchester we were really impressed with the venue. There were around 30 coaches in the room for the first of the afternoon’s speakers. The afternoon began with an illuminating talk on creativity in coaching from Richard Cheetham. He talked largely about the nature of coaches who he said, and we agree, are high on organisation but not necessarily high on freedom of expression. He also had people drawing watering cans and discussed his work with “proper genius” Danny Cipriani.
Unfortunately the RFU’s Nicks Scott was unable to attend so instead The Leisure Review’s own Mick Owen stepped into the fray and facilitated a fascinating discussion on governing body coach development processes. We will have to get in contact with Nick Scott for a final ruling on the question ‘du jour’, why do the RFU have a fifth coaching level for all areas of the game apart from children?
Using the last slide of Nick Scott’s presentation as a jumping off point Andy Heald of Premier Sport, the country’s leading provider of coaching for schools, gave a really interesting insight into their views on the kind of coaches they need and the huge amount of training they then put into developing these coaches before they come into contact with a child.
If Andy Heald challenged the coaching status quo then Oscar Mwaanga challenged everyone in the room to re-evaluate the extent to which sport and coaching affects change in society. Oscar explained his fascinating philosophy that sport should occupy a place alongside the church and the family as a key source of personal development. Sport he claimed gives people skills that go beyond being sport skills and become life skills.
Rounding up the evening, CJ Lee of Sport Hampshire & Isle of Wight thanked all the speakers and most importantly the coaches in attendance for their contribution and their contributions to the stimulating debate.
The Heart of Portsmouth celebrate another Champion: Mateusz Ziolkowski
Coaching Hampshire & IOW have been supporting the work at the Heart of Portsmouth Boxing Club for the last 12-months. We’ve provided coach scholarships, employed seven trainee boxing coaches through the Future Jobs Fund and have used ‘Q’ Shillingford, the club’s effervescent and inspirational leader, to support leadership training across the county.
A few months ago we had the good fortune to interview a number of students from the Charter Academy, a secondary school based in the heart of Somers Town, Portsmouth, one of the most deprived areas of the city. Nevertheless, since the school became an Academy under the leadership of school principle, Dame Sharon Hollows, staff and pupils at the school have made some great strides. The school prides itself on investing in the needs of pupils and taking innovative approaches to delivering on that aim. Amongst these innovations was to accept an invitation from Quinton ‘Q’ Shillingford to host an after school boxing activity.
“My initial response was ‘no way’, but Q can be very convincing, so we decided to give it a try.” said Dame Hollows.
Since then, the Heart of Portsmouth Boxers has supported hundreds of young people as well as developing a unique relationship with many parents who previously had been very suspicious of getting involved with the school.
Coaching Hampshire & IOW interviewed a number of teachers, pupils and parents at the school, to find out what impact the boxing activity and their coaches were having on them as people. We were hardly surprised to find out that good coaching is not just about developing athletes, but also about promoting valuable life skills like inter-personal skills, confidence, goal setting and establishing a work-ethic. On the whole students were physically stronger, had a more positive self-image and enjoyed making new friends.
One of these pupils was Mateusz Ziolkowski. Mateusz has only been in the UK for a few short years, hailing from Poland. He now talks confidently about how he used to dislike school when he first moved to the area. He was bigger than most kids his age and his limited English made him very self-conscious. However, some 3-years on, Mateusz has little problem communicating, as he explains,
“I remember back in Year 7 and Year 8 I didn’t attend school ..everyday, every week. Now I’m here everyday, so I guess [Boxing] has made me a bit more disciplined.”
Winning the Championship
And its this new found discipline that led to Mateusz clinching a national boxing title. The 2011 Clubs for Young People (CYP) championship event was held in Harlow, Essex. Seasoned young fighters from all over the country competed for the coveted title, but it was novice Mateusz that not only sealed the victory, but has caused a stir amongst selectors of future national squads.
The Heart of Portsmouth hero stunned the capacity crowd in Harlow in dramatic style with victory over West Leeds’ rising-star Dexter
Thomas. Ziolkowski’s success is made all the more incredible, coming in just his ninth amateur contest – and only two years after taking up the sport. It was a stunning victory for the Charter Academy student, who also overcame a Welsh champion, along with a multi-national champion and European silver medallist, on his way to success.
The win was a nailbiter, with the contest ending 12-12 after three exciting rounds of action. Shillingford believes Ziolkowski has stunned the boxing world, with his title coming so early in his amateur career. The victory means that Ziolkowski may now be a serious 2016 Olympic Games.
Coach Shillingford explains:
“It’s an unbelievable story. No-one can believe a kid can come in and do what Mateusz has done. To win a national title after nine bouts is unheard of, and to do it the hard way by beating national champions and European medallists makes it even more incredible.
Now Mateusz [I believe] is on course for the 2016 Olympics. He has to keep working and hopefully get some international experience to build towards becoming a senior. Mateusz is the most dedicated boxer I’ve had the pleasure of working with, and I’ve had 15 national champions and 12 international boxers.
Ziolkowski’s proved a beacon for the Boxing Awards programme piloted at HOP and Charter Academy, with the noble art helping him to grow in all aspects of his life. When he’s not training before, during and after school, he helps out with the younger students, helping them to enjoy the sport and develop their skills.
“Mateusz didn’t want to go to school when he first came to the country. But getting involved in boxing has made him more confident and he has found new friends. His character has come out and his education has rose as a result. He is now a head boy at his school and speaks English fluently. Mateus is a success story for all the coaches who prepared him – his teachers, his club, school and Portsmouth.”
“Its made me a lot more confident and I enjoy being a bit of a leader”
There’s little doubt that Mateusz will be a role model to many more young pupils at the school, but also to many other young people who see what he has achieved in such a short period. It has not been without some considerable work, discipline and determination, but a success that the school, his parents, the coaches and Mateusz himself, will all cherish for a long time to come.
Watch our video case study on the Heart of Portsmouth Boxing Club and their phenomenal work.
October was Black History Month. For many of us this milestone will have been overlooked. If you’re not from a Black or Minority Ethnic group (BME), then the issues and your general awareness of the struggles, plight and achievements of Black and other ethnic minority groups can easily have passed you by.
Nevertheless, minority groups and groups that require special attention come in all shapes and sizes. Vulnerable adults are another such group. The deaf and disabled are another and children and young people are yet another. All of these groups require special consideration in sport for one reason or another.
BME people make up a significant number of local people, yet tend to be under-represented in a vast array of professions in our communities. Back in August the Football Association (The FA) held a special event to recognise this phenomenon within it’s own ranks, giving particular focus to the lack of coaches and managers in both the amateur and professional game. In spite of the achievements of coaches like Hope Powell (England Women’s Head Coach) and Noel Blake (Head Coach of the England under-19 men), BME coaches make up only 4.8% of UEFA B holding licences, whereas 20% of professional footballers are from BME backgrounds.
On the positive side the FA are backing a campaign in partnership with Black and Asian Coaches’ Association, which is already making positive in-roads in the amateur ranks. The FA has created a scholarship fund to help coaches from BME backgrounds to get into coaching and develop their skills.
At a recent launch of the film “COACH”, which aims to highlight both the challenges and opportunities within Football Coaching, FA Chairman David Bernstein said,
“We want football to be able to draw on coaches from the widest possible talent pool and I hope that the COACH film will inspire a new generation of BME coaches to follow in Noel and Hope’s footsteps.”
In an article for http://www.kickitout.org, Hope explains,
Being young, female and black I knew I could be a positive role model for young people. I hope I can help some young black people in particular to believe in themselves and strive to be the best.
Sporting Equals, a national organisation committed to the promotion of ethnic diversity across sport and physical activity, are currently conducting research into the experiences of BME people who either want to coach or are already involved in coaching. The study aims to better understand the opportunities, barriers and possible solutions to improving access into coaching.
To complete the coaches’ survey go to this link: Sporting Equals Coach Survey
To complete the participant survey, go to this link: Sporting Equals Participant Survey
The closing date for completion is 16th November 2011.
Child Centred Coaching
Last month saw the Child Protection in Sport Unit (CPSU) host its annual conference at Edgbaston Cricket Ground in Birmingham. The event marked the CPSU’s 10th birthday and highlighted the progress made in safeguarding policy, and its impact on the experiences of young people across the industry.
Presentations were given by Sport England, The FA and the English Golf Union, demonstrating the immense amount of work that has been done to ensure that sport takes safeguarding seriously, embedding best practice throughout the policy terrain and on the ‘coal face’ of sport, at every level. Brian Moore, former England RFU player, gave a harrowing account of “A Survivors Story” in which he detailed his own experience of abuse by the hand of an adult in a position of trust. Brian’s story brought to life the necessity to ensure we continue to highlight the importance of best practice in sport and exercise a ‘zero tolerance’ approach to child abuse at every level.
Professor Anne Stafford, a lead researcher at the Centre for Learning in Child Protection, detailed findings from a recent research report on THE EXPERIENCES OF CHILDREN PARTICIPATING IN ORGANISED SPORT IN THE UK. The findings were in part very encouraging, with the vast majority of children involved painting a very positive picture of their sport participation. However, sitting alongside the considerable benefits were an alarming occurrence of more negative and harmful experiences.
The report highlighted that instances of sexual harm – the type of abuse that tends to raise the most concern within sport and amongst the masses – were statistically low at 3%. However, 75% of children reported being victims of emotional harm, 29% were exposed to sexual harassment and 24% were victims of physical harm. Whilst peers were the most common perpetrators of all reported cases, coaches were the second most common, sometimes failing to intervene or challenge behaviour effectively i.e. sexual harassment, teasing or bullying between players. Equally alarming were the 10% of children who reported to having self-harmed, often as a consequence of feeling humiliated, bullied or suffering from poor body image.
Equally revealing was that whilst instances of harm occurred at every level, there was a significant tendency for instances to increase as the level of participation and competition increased. The report findings were followed by a presentation by former professional basketballer, author and child psychologist, John Amechi, who spoke passionately about the coach’s role in reducing these instances.
According to Amechi, who runs his own Basketball Centre in Manchester, coaches must coach with intent, ensuring sport provides people with a safe place to have fun, develop their talent and learn important social and behavioural skills and values necessary to take an active and positive role in modern society. He was quick to criticise the apparent norms within some quarters of coaching that confuse physical harm and emotional abuse with elite coaching practices. Amechi accused some coaches of being “anti-intellectual and emotionally illiterate”, explaining,
“when you see a coach shouting so loud at a player that he is spitting in his face, these are signs that this coach doesn’t know how to communicate, much less coach.”
Sport Hampshire & IOW will be running Safeguarding and Protecting Children II, during Coach Education Month (March 2012). In this refresher session, you’ll consolidate and update everything you learned in the first workshop. You’ll have the opportunity to share best practice and learn from each other’s experiences to help you create a positive, child-centred sporting environment.
Clearly amongst some quarters there is a ‘fear factor’ when it comes to engaging with the deaf and disabled community in sport and physical activity. However, help is at hand.
In September the University of Southampton hosted the Access to Disability Sport Conference, where speakers included Chris Holmes (Paralympian and current Head of Integration for the Olympic and Paralympic Organising Committee), Geoff Holt (the first paraplegic to cross the English Channel) and Peter Hull (3 time Gold medallist and Hampshire’s own Disability Sport Officer.
The event was aimed at highlighting the unique opportunities available to practitioners, coaches and participants in the run up to next year’s games. There was also lots of discussion and working examples of ‘legacy’.
Its clear that winning medals will win the ‘hearts and minds’ of people in the UK, but as Chris Holmes explained ‘the UK will not be judged simply on how well the games are run or by the success of our athletes…[but] on the ability of the nation to maximise the legacy opportunity and access for all people wanting to engage in sport, once the Games are over’.
Sport Hampshire & IOW is just one local organisation that will be playing its part in raising awareness and providing real opportunities for coaches and sports volunteers to adapt and develop their skills. During Coach Education Month (March 2012) CHIOW will deliver a number of disability awareness workshops designed for those who currently work or want to work with disability sports.
See interview with Kristina Veasey, who will be one of the speakers involved in next year’s 2012 Hampshire Coaching Conference and Women in Sport event.
For more information, please go to www.coachinghampshireiow.co.uk in the events section.