“I don’t see myself as a female coach. I’m simply a coach”

For my first blog post as part of the Coaching Hampshire & IOW (CHIOW) team, I am pleased to be able to share with you our recent experience at the British Athletics Women in Coaching conference.

EmilyFor those of you who don’t know me yet, my name is Emily Sanderson and I am the Assistant Project Officer for Coaching. Part of my role is to co-ordinate Project 500, our women’s coaching project being delivered in partnership with seven other counties across the South East. Women in sport is a subject particularly close to my heart: sport has given me the platform to meet new people, build my confidence, keep fit and most importantly provide me the chance to escape from the stresses that everyday life can sometimes bring. I would love to be able to make a difference (no matter how big or small) in helping more women get something out of sport like I have.

British Athletics leads the way for female coaches

The CHIOW team has been excited by the work recently undertaken by British Athletics with regards to women in coaching, including their Women’s Coaching Advisory group. Naturally we saw an immediate connection with our own project and we were kindly invited to attend British Athletics 6th annual Women in Coaching conference. Invitations were also extended to all Project 500 coaches no matter what their sporting background, giving these coaches the opportunity to network and learn from another sport.

The theme for this year’s conference was Inspire, Influence and Inform and with the high calibre of speakers in attendance, I was in no doubt at the start of the day that these key themes would resonate with me and the other female coaches in the room.

sharon hannonThe keynote speech was delivered by Sharon Hannon, the coach who first spotted Australia’s golden girl of Athletics, Sally Pearson, at the age of 12-years old. Sharon went on to coach Pearson for 14-years right through to her Olympic Gold medal success in London 2012.

The conference also welcomed Amanda Reddin, who is best known for coaching world champion gymnast and Olympic medallist, Beth Tweddle. Amanda carried out an informal Q&A session and shared her experiences as a high performance coach.

It was such a privilege to hear about both of their individual coaching journeys and they each got into coaching in a completely different ways: one as a willing parent and another knowing coaching was for her from a young age. When having discussions with other female coaches in attendance, it was interesting to hear that even though Sharon and Amanda are the pinnacle of female coaching, they found themselves being able to identify with both their experiences and relate to some of the challenges they have faced.

What am I so afraid of?

Being able to relate to role models I believe is so important to female coaches. I myself have been an inactive coach for a number of years and have always doubted my ability to appear competent in front of athletes. This perceived fear and self doubt is a big factor in preventing me from taking the plunge back into coaching. However, listening to both Sharon and Amanda really opened my eyes and got me thinking “What’s all the fuss about?” To be able to identify with these high performance coaches, when I have never coached beyond the recreational level, gave me the small confidence boost I needed to think differently and positively towards returning to coaching.

It was interesconference `ting to hear that Sharon only felt fully confident as a coach after August 2011 when Pearson achieved a Gold Medal at the World Championships in Deagu. Research through Project 500 found that confidence is one of the biggest barriers faced by our potential female workforce. Sharon’s admittance as one of the best elite coaches in the world made me think “I’m not alone and even high performance coaches can doubt themselves so why not just go for it?”

People can stand in their own way…meeting your chimp

Leading nicely on from a feeling of self reflection in relation to my own coaching, we explored the work of Dr Steve Peter’s through the critically acclaimed “Chimps Paradox” book. Dr Kate Goodger from Chimp Management Ltd delivered a fascinating session on the functionality of the brain, exploring the differences between males and females and how our close genetic association to chimps can explain some of our day to day behaviours.

So what is this chimp reference all about? Kate could see we were all mystified in the room and explained how the main focus of their programme is to improve overall quality of life first to ultimately help in sport. In simple terms, according to the chimp model of the brain, the “inner chimp” is the emotional part within the brain that thinks and acts for us without our permission. This can result in behaviours which we often dwell upon and kick ourselves over. For myself, I often find myself saying yes when asked to do something which I know will make me feel anxious or nervous (making a presentation to a large audience) and I always find myself saying “Why did I say yes when I know I don’t want to do it? Why am I so afraid to say no?”

conference 1For others in the room, characteristics which reflected their inner chimp included being impatient, being defensive when questioned and losing their temper over something quite insignificant but at the time seemed important. Kate explained that these characteristics we exhibit can often hold individuals back in their day to day lives.

Whilst this approach may not be for everyone, it allowed me to reflect about how this concept can be applied to coaches and their athletes. Do your athletes exhibit certain behaviours that on reflection may mean you may have to change your approach as a coach? For example, would you need to communicate with that athlete differently? Would you need to consider what learning style that athlete prefers?

It would be great to hear your thoughts on the Chimp Paradox and we may even look to make this a choice as part of our planned Coaches Book Club.

Are women too harsh on themselves as coaches?

Panel 1The conference was brought to a close with an inspiring panel discussion chaired by decorated athlete Kelly Sotherton. Questions from the audience were directed to the panel who offered advice and views on how we can help address the imbalance of male to female coaches across all sports.

A quote that has stuck with me is from Sharon Hannon who simply said “I don’t see myself as a female coach. I’m a coach.”  What a simple yet strong message. Is the problem that as women, are we comparing ourselves to men in the coaching realm and not seeing ourselves simply as coaches?  Sharon said that women bring so much to table that can make them good coaches, including intuition, ability to trust their instincts and a nurturing quality that can help build strong coach athlete relationships.

What do you think of Sharon’s statement? Please feel free to share your comments via the Project 500 Facebook page /Project500uk or tweet @femalecoaches using #Project500

The day was full to the brim with shared experiences and so insightful both in my professional capacity but also as an inactive coach from a different sport coming away with a new found sense of belief. It was interesting to see how all the speakers came into coaching in different ways and to hear what other female coaches want in terms of support. Out of interest no-one mentioned funding or financial incentives but more opportunities to network and learn from other female coaches. I definitely left the conference with a sense that British Athletics are leading the way and setting a precedent for other NGBs to follow about the importance of supporting women in sport in a coaching capacity.

What makes you tick?

I would really like to hear from other Project 500 coaches about this blog – do you like to relate to other female coaches? Do you have any role models or like to learn from your peers in the coaching realm?

We’re keen for coaches to share their comments, thoughts and ideas, not just about this blog, but about what influences you in your coaching. We’d love to hear about any books you may have read, any events that have inspired you to reflect on your own coaching practice or about the different ways you like to learn which you can share with others.

Please feel free to get in touch with the CHIOW team by emailing emily.sanderson@hants.gov.uk

 

#COSI

learning_support-logo

This short blog is a challenge!! Firstly for me to write and secondly to you, my fellow coaches! It is made more so as I have just joined the team for an internship over the next 9-12 months. So for those that have not seen my introduction blog, my name is Steve Eversfield and I am starting the final year of a MSc in Performance Coaching.

So, here’s the challege…

We all talk about continuing professional development [aka Coach Education], but how many of us actually study our art (coaching) outside of that which is expected of us to be qualified to the standards laid down by our respective NGB?

I know full well that the majority of us do our coaching as volunteers. As I write this I have my MSc Internship head on, whilst maintaining a full career as an Army Officer and being the Club Development officer for my local Hockey club. I only say this to highlight that I understand how busy we all are and how beneficial it can be when opportunities or resources are shared.

So what is #COSI?

Well, put simply it is a Culture Of Self Improvement (COSI). COSI forms one of the four aims highlighted within the UK Coaching Framework along with, more appropriately qualified and skilled coaches, a more diverse work force and a better supported workforce. Our intent with #COSI is to help promote this culture within all of us, whilst also considering the ‘supported workforce’ pillar.  We will do this by sharing coaching tips, highlighting interesting articles and suggesting opportunities that help us all move towards excellence and expertise.

Expert Coach

The UK Coaching Framework strap line is ‘EXCELLENT COACHING EVERY TIME FOR EVERYONE’. I would suggest we can only achieve that by being the best that we can, at what we do – coach. I’m sure we would all like to learn more about ‘how to coach’ and I don’t mean the technical aspects of our chosen sport, but about the art of coaching or ‘how successful coaches achieve success’, if only we had the time. So this is where we believe that #COSI will fit into our busy schedules. Initially we will highlight some Podcasts that many may find beneficial, can be listened to almost anywhere, and we feel are relevant to some of our CoachingHIOW projects and priorities. In time we will develop our information sharing, be that tweeting podcasts or articles, more blogging or perhaps put on some focus groups and workshops. Perhaps more importantly we should ask; What do you want?

ancockHow can we help each other?

Well simple ideas shared through comments here, tweeting comments about Podcasts or articles and suggesting other areas for us all to look at are the key ways we as a coaching network can help each other with our COSI.

So look out for our hashtags; Culture of Self Improvement (#COSI), Disability Coaching Network (#DCN), Talent Coach Academy (#TalentCoachHIOW), Young Coach Academy (#YoungCoachHIOW) and feel free to share the information, your views, and perhaps more importantly your experiences. We try…but know we are not the font of all knowledge, so if you are aware of any good resources, please share them with the coaching community and remember to add #COSI.

Here’s a starter challenge to traditonal coaching.

Steve

Introduction ~ MSc Intern @CoachingHIOW

Steve EversfieldFirstly can I start by saying a public thank you to CJ Lee for agreeing to have me on board to work with the Coaching HIOW team.

So who am I and what am I doing? My name is Steve Eversfield, I have played hockey for about 30 years and having started with a short dalliance as a goal keeper I have played outfield for the majority of my career. As an England Hockey Level 2 coach holding the Bronze Goalkeeping coach award, a RFU Level 1 coach and a MIAS Level 4 Mountain Bike Instructor, I am currently studying for an MSc in Performance Coaching. Supporting my interest in coach development I have recently taken on the mantel of Club Development Officer at Gosport Borough Hockey Club and remain an active coach at club level and I am coaching the hockey goalkeepers of the future in the England Hockey Single System here in Hampshire.

My MSc study is where the link to Coaching HIOW comes in as I enter my research project. I approached CJ to get involved in the various interesting projects being looked at by Coaching HIOW and hope to research an area that may be of interest and benefit to us all. The actual subject of my research is yet to be finalised but it will probably be based around coach development, mentoring, learning, behaviour change and how we might be able to utilise different learning methods and whether different approaches can increase the retention of new ideas or skills. Much of this is likely to follow on from some of the interesting ideas at this year’s UK Coaching Summit.

As this is hopefully the first of several Blogs I will write over the next year or so I thought it would be good to give you a little of my philosophy as a coach and as a development officer;

Firstly as a coach and a military man I like to keep my coaching philosophy simple; Disciplined, Honest, Respectful, Creative coaching to the finish.
• Discipline is about making sure that as a coach or participant you are there on time ready to train be that as the participant or having planned and prepared the session.
• Honesty is between the participant and the coach, how well have they achieved the aim, reflection and feedback.
• Respectful in all conversation and communication. Discussions should be challenging to prompt development, but at all times remain relevant and respectful.
• Creative coaching breeds enthusiasm within participants but should mean that participants need to search for solutions during coaching and therefore reinforce their learning.
• And to the finish – How often do you see a player stop a drill when something goes wrong? In my view this just leads to players that are unable to generate a solution when things don’t go to plan.

Secondly; as a development officer my philosophy is that; the coach/mentor is there for each and every individual. We owe those individuals utmost respect as an athlete/fellow coach and we show this by delivering the best possible advice and guidance as recompense for the trust that the individual places in us. All of this we must do whilst planning for the future.
• Participant centred coaching/mentoring; I deliberately say the coach/mentor is there for the individual because, even within a team, I believe the coach/mentor needs to know and understand each and every individual to be able to piece together the team and deliver the best experience for all.
• Respect; remember that everything you do is because the individual is there. They choose to turn up and train or deliver coaching for you. If they didn’t then you would have no one to develop.
• The best possible advice and guidance; I would ask you all; When did you last do some personal coach education that was not just core requirements? When did you last challenge the drill, the process, the course you last completed? Do you have a mentor? And ultimately, when did you last admit to an individual that you had taken them as far as you could within your own capability?
• Planning for the future, this is not just about planning for the athlete’s future, but includes workforce succession planning and community engagement planning. How can we progress an individual or grow a club if we don’t have the capacity in the workforce (you the coaches) to take them forward and we all know upskilling can take 12 – 18 months. And finally if we wish to increase participation we must plan how we engage with the community and any delivery requirements they may have that are different from those we recognise on a club or NGB basis.

I look forward to hearing from many of you along the way, so please comment below with any ideas or views and I ask that you remember that unless expressly stated the views I share are my own and where I may be challenging and at worst antagonistic it is meant without offence and within the spirit of discussion and development. I ask you to remember two key questions, So What? and Why? When we can no longer answer these questions then we will have thought through the question in hand and will be ready to generate a solution.

And finally a slightly adapted quote from a good military man (Sir Basil Liddell-Hart); The hardest part of getting a new idea into a coach or players head is to get the old one out!

Thanks all, hope to speak to some of you soon

Steve

Set your #CGResolution today!

GCG2014_Main_LogoRGBWednesday the 23rd July will signify the start of the XX Commonwelath Games. During an amazing 11-days of sport, millions of people around the world will be witness to exceptional feats of sporting talent and prowess. Medals will be won, records broken and tears will be shed. Another generation will be inspired to run, jump, grapple and throw in events ranging from Athletics to Wrestling.

However, what many of the millions of spectators will fail to see are the vast numbers of hours spent in training with a vast array of coaches and volunteers from around the world.  And we’re not just talking about the elite coaches who will be representing their respective countries at the Games. We’re also talking about those involved in supporting the very first steps each of the Commonwealth athletes took in order to develop their love, passion and skill within their chosen disciplines.

Harnessing inspiration is not an easy thing to do, but that’s exactly what coaches around the globe will be called upon to do as soon as the curtain drops on this year’s Games.  Just like after London 2012 (and many games before them), it is coaches that will be largely responsible for bringing the legacy of this year’s Games alive.

Training is generally not glamourous and sometimes its not even fun.  Nevertheless, coaches continually have to find innovative and creative ways to engage generations of athletes to develop their love for a sport, then take that love and shape it into an uncompromising desire to realise someone’s potential.  The journey is long (approximately 10,000 or 10-year’s if you’r to believe the likes of Coyle and Gladwell) and it often filtered with hardship, setbacks, injury and failure.  This is not an easy journey and one which requires the help of a number of dedicated, knowledgable, creativey and inspiration coaches to help guide the way.

As you watch the athletes at this year’s events, give some thought to how prepared you are to inspire that eight-year old child who believes they want to be a future Commonwealth Champion.  If, like me, you know that in order to keep raising the bar for these future stars its essential you keep developing yourself, then why not set yourself a Commonwealth Game resolution or #CGResolution and send us your thoughts via Twitter or Facebook .  We’ll feature the best ones in our upcoming INSIDE COACHING magazine, which will be focussed on Talent and Developing the Talent Pool.

Inclusive Boxing packs a real punch

When somebody first mentioned the idea of disability boxing to me, I must admit to thinking “you must be mad!”

Whilst interest in boxing has steadily been growing over recent years, there are still those who consider ‘the sweet science”too dangerous’ and therefore, definitely too risky for disabled participants…how wrong they are.

CHIOW met with Lucy and Stu O’ Connor back in April to sound out some ideas around developing a disability boxing session at their club in Eastleigh. Given our efforts to create the Disability Coaching Network, we were obviously intrigued.

Both Stu and Lucy are in the Royal Navy and like many volunteers, juggle a full-time job with full-time hours volunteering at their club. However, not satisfied with their 300% growth in their first year, their passion is such that they want to bring the sport to communities that have previously been denied the opportunity.

The timing for their proposed growth falls in line with a proposed expansion of their current facility.  Though only a year old (they celebrated their  one-year birthday on 4th March 2014) they are already out-growing the space they inhabit at the home of Hampshire County Cricket, the Ageas Bowl.

“Its amazing to think that we’ve grown from the two of us to 424 members in just twelve months”, declared Lucy.

However,the club has not rested on its laurels and continue to grow by providing outreach schemes in local schools, including Wilden, Bursledon and Woodlands.  With growing membership the club have had to grow their coaching team as well and now have six qualified coaches to support both the largely recreational and competitive boxing membership.

We’re very much a family club and provide for those members who wish to conduct boxing training for fitness as well as those who wish to compete.  Our members range from  7-70.  Many of our coaches are parents who brought their kids to the club to box and then just wanted to get involved.  At a guess I’d say less than 10% of our membership is interested in competitive contact boxing.  The rest just love the training and developing their skills and confidence.

So why disabilty boxing?

Stu explained,

…to be honest we hadn’t given disability boxing much thought until one of our own boxers walked into the gym and asked if he could join. We both scratched our heads, but were willing to give it a try and since then we’ve been thinking about creating a new opportunity for people who are disabled.

Dan Rush has Cerebal Palsy.  He walked through the doors of the club around 6-months ago, explaining he wanted to box.

Dan tells us what he can and can’t do, but there isn’t much he can’t do.  In fact he often embarresses other members of the club with what he can do and they can’t.

Whilst some might find it surprising that the notoriusly traditional England Boxing (formerly the Amateur Boxing Association for England or ABAE) is now opening its eyes to the potential of disability boxing in growing its popularity.  Given the struggles women have had to go through to be recognised as equal partners in the sport, there is a surprising willingness by the ABAE to explore this new market.  However, the recent sanction of Deaf Fighters by the Amateur International Boxing Association (AIBA) has opened up the sport to some communities that may not have previously considered the sport had a pathway for them.

Since meeting Stu, Lucy and Club Chairman Richard Butriss, the group have been doing their homework, visiting a club in France that already has an established inclusive boxing programme.

Stu addresses his recreational boxers at their home base at the Ageas Bowl.

Stu addresses his recreational boxers at their home base at the Ageas Bowl.

Sport Hampshire & IOW have also been doing some research and plan to bring two experience coaches from the north of England to Hampshire, to help Poseidon and other interested parties, develop their skills and knowledge around a more inclusive approach.

Peter Hull, Disability Sports Development Officer for the county explains,

We’re working with local Sports Development Officers and sports groups to gauge the interest in boxing.  However, we’re not planning to run before we can walk, so our first steps will be to work with those from the deaf community and once we have a working project, we’ll explore pan disability opportunities with other clubs around the county. It’s vital that we create better links with non-sporting organisations to share the offer and evaluate the demand.

We’ve also sought the support of the England Boxing and will be joined in this endeavour by Avoen Perryman, Club Support Officer for the South East region.

I’m really excited by the prospect of developing something innovative and inclusive, which uderpins the England Boxing’s social-inclusion agenda.  Having spoken to other clubs across the region, there’s a great deal of interest in the initiative and I hope we’re in a position to replicate this on a much wider scale after we launch the pilot with Poseidon.  We’re building on work that has taken place in th North West and Yorkshire, but this will be the first project of its kind in the South.

One of the keys to the programmes success will be coaching and CHIOW will support the project by developing the training programme and monitoring the results.  Plans are afoot to launch the first round of coach education this summer with a view to sessions getting underway by autumn.

If you know of anyone from the deaf community who might be intersted in getting involved, then please get them to contact Peter Hull on peter.hull@hants.gov.uk or get in touch with Stu and Lucy via the club email poseidonabc@me.com.

UK Coaching Summit: An Embarressment of riches

Its been a couple of weeks since Emily and I attended the 6th UK Coaching Summit in Glasgow.  This was my 5th visit (and Emily’s 1st) to the conference and understandably my expectations were high.  Every year I’ve attended delegates have been offered a broad programme of keynotes and workshops, challenging our perception of high-quality coaching, support and developmental approaches.   Speakers have included World-Class coaches and athletes, as well as World Leading coach developers, performance anylists and performance directors from both team and individual disciplines.  Whether you’re from a National Governing Body (NGB), part of England Coaching Network or somebody who simply has a passion for sport and sports coaching, you’d struggle to leave the event without something of value.UK Coaching Summiti

A Master Class in coaching philosophy

This year’s event was no different!  Opened by BBC’s Jill Douglas, the delegation was inspired by the opening key note by former British Lion and current Glasgow Warriors Head Coach, Gregor Townsend.  Gregor shared his thoughts on creating high-performance learnng environments for players and coaches. He reflected on his own experience of learning, sharing some of the more impactful books he has read, books which have shaped his coaching philosophy and behaviours (check out The Carolina Way by Dean Smith, Good to Great by Jim Collins,  Practice Perfect, The Double-Goal Coach by Jim Thompson).  He rounded off his summary of his daily coaching principles (celebrate achievement, challenge underperformance and highlight/reward effort) with an introspective on his own coaching philosophy and principles, explaining

Coaching equals love! The basis of all warrior cultures is love.  It’s important you love what you’re doing and that you are passionate enough to show that love [in front of and] to your players and coaching staff.

This inspiring opener was followed up by one session after another of first class speakers, many of whom would not have looked out of place on the stages of TED Talks.

The fight for a more inclusive workforce

sport coach UK’s Mike Fisher led a session on equality in coaching, focussing on some of the innovative work being done by England Athletics and our very own Project 500.  The basic premise of increasing numbers of female, disabled people and ethnic minorities in coaching is essentially to increase choice and the number positive roles models for all members of society.  Its an area of coaching development that many are committed to, but no one has come up with a scientific approach to resolving.   Nevertheless, sports coach UK have spent the last year working with England Athletics, developing a solid research based for understanding the barriers to female recrutiment within the sport and a variety of solutions to changing the status quo.  The reports recommendations include: -

  1. Intergrate & Increase: focus on running courses with 50:50 ratio of men to women
  2. Develop accessible formats: explore bite-size learning options and blended learning e.g. on-line learning
  3. Improve pre-course information: help to demystufy the coach education experience e.g. pre-course video
  4. Develop mentoring schemes: mentors are proven to improve the coaching journey and individual efficacy for new coaches
  5. Increase Role Models: make female coaches and coach educators more visible

The early results of the research are promising, with both male and female coaches reacting positively to some of the changes to pre-course information, gender-balanced courses and the increase in use of female tutors in coach education delivery.

Leoni Lightfoot, Coach Development Manager for England Athletics commented:

Making the video has really made a significant impact in helping to improve the confidence of both men and women coming into the coach education environment for the first time.  The project has also really helped us to understand the important role that tutors can play in overcoming the barriers of personality and confidence.  Its a great start, but we still have a lot of work to do.

Cisco Learning at UKCoachingSummit

Jay Sriskanthan of CISCO Systems with Rachel Hopper, sport coach UK’s lead on eLearning

Whilst there were other powerful sessions on Talent by Sport Scotland’s Tony Stanger (see our blog on CHIOW’s new Talent Coach Academy to see how Tony’s views on ‘the talent pool’ have influenced our plans) and Mentoring in the Welsh Valleys (we’ll talk about our plans for mentoring in a future article), one of the most impactful sessions for me was delivered by someone who knows very little about sports coaching, but is an expert in developing creative IT solutions to support teaching and learning.

Jay Sriskanthan is a Senior Learning and Development Consultant at Cisco (Tweet Jay @CISCO-Learning) and wowed the audience with some of the most cutting-edge technology currently available which allows organisations to teach and collaborate remotely, create immersive learning environments, and enhance the learning experience for learners.  Whilst some of the technology Jay described is so new its not likely to be seen in coaching environments in the very near future (check out the Internet of Everything), some of the concepts around partnership, collaboration and the use of video conferencing to enhance learning, definitely gave the audience some food for thought.

Jay’s session challenged delegates to think more creatively about how they deliver coach education.

We must not be restricted by the old ways of doing things.  We need to think differently about how we utilise new teachnologies to create effective learning opportunities.  Technology does not mean doing things expensively. We all have mobile phones and like it or not video is here to stay, so start experimenting.  Technology is changing, but more importantly so are people’s expectations.

 

There were other sessions that we took learning from, but simply too many to summarise here.  The close of the conference witnessed Winter Olympics coaches Tony McAllister and Rhona Howie share the realities of coaching in the lead up to a major event and the challenges of coachnig during this year’s Winter Olympiad.  Both talked about philosophy, consistency, sacrifice and passion and we’ll bring you a more detailed reflection on Rhona’s philosophy in a future article.  For me their insights and honesty capped off an amazing two-days of learning, introspection and reflection.  Twitter Feed Metoring

After a ferocious two-days of tweeting (for which we’d like to than all our new followers), both Emily and I came back with more ideas than we know what to do with, but both of us remain inspired to share our ideas and learning with our local network and our coaches with the aim of making Hampshire and the Ilse of Wight one the best coaching counties in the UK.

CJ Lee
Coaching Development Manager
Sport Hampshire & IOW

Coaching Hampshire & IOW unveils new Talent Coach Academy

Hampshire and the Isle of Wight has been a hot bed for talented athletes for a number of years.  Names like Kelly Sotherton (Athletics), Theo Walcott (Football), Ben Ainsley (Sailing), Peter Charles (Show Jumping),  Peter Waterfield (Diving), Euwan Thomas (Athletics) , Alex Danson (Hockey) and Dani King (Cycling) are synonomous locally, nationally and on the world stage.

However, what we rarely recognise is the wealth of coaching experitise that helped these once unknown stars realise their talent potential.  In other words who are the people behind the athletes and what do they know that could help the next generation of coaches carry on the county’s proud tradition of harnessing sporting talent.

For the past four years our Local Coaching Network has started to create some targetted opportunities to support coaches who work with today’s and tomorrow talented athletes.  All four of our Universities have made both general and very specific contributions to helping coaches understand the needs of talented athletes, elite training environments and the subsequent coaching behaviours required to develop performance.  Equally school sport and PE has made a substantial contribution to engaging interest and developing a passion for sport in our young people as well as providing a competitive platform to allow some of our talent to flourish.

In 2011 Coaching Hampshire & IOW introduced Talent Coach Breakfast Clubs  and Talent Foundation workshops which seemed to appeal to a large number of designated NGB talent/performance development coaches as well as a growing number of club coaches who have been developing talent in isolation for a number of years.  Initial feedback was positive and we plan to build on that foundation over the next couple of years.

Nevertheless, we feel that we can do even more and are teaming up with sports coach UK, a number of NGBs and our local Universities to create a new Talent Coach Academy to recognised and support of the work of two specific groups of coaches.

What is Talent?

This is no easy question and is one that smarter men than me have struggled to define.  It is, however, useful to make a disctinction between the use of the word ‘talent’ and its scope for the sake of clarity across our work.  Talent on the on the one hand can be used to describe someone with the raw material (usually in the guise of physical attributes) to develop world class performance in this or that sport.  This notion of talent is not easy to quantify (see Malcolm Gladwell’s ‘Outliers, Daniel Coyles ‘The Talent Code’ or Stuart Armstrong’s ‘The Talent Equation’) and is not always realised, but it is a notion commonly used by governing bodies and coaches the world over. 

The the other notion of talent we’ll be using in the Academy is that whereby a coach demonstrates ‘a talent’ to consistently create an environment to realise performance potential in a series of athletes over a series of years.  These coaches may not always work in the talent/performance end of the spectrum, but nevertheless play an important role in ensuring athletes aspire to love their sport and make continuous progress.  These coaches by definition ensure that we maximise the talent pool by keeping people involved in sport, develop a passion for a wide variety of sport and help develop the [growth] mindset of athletes (young and older) that will help to achieve their goals and fulfil their potential.

So our aim will be to on the one hand we will work with those coaches who work with talented athletes and on the other hand work with coaches who demonstrate talent [in any coaching domain], whether that be in recreational, talent development or performance sport.

The Talent Coach Academy

Our talent academy with be comprised of four key components: -

  1. Player-centred, coach led philosophy
  2. Identification and Recognition
  3. Learning and Support
  4. Reaserch and Development

Each of the components will involved varying levels of delivery.  For example, the Learning and Support component will involve a series of bespoke workshops looking at athletic performance, mindset, long-term athlete development and deliberate practice.  Workshops will aim to build a bridge between athletes, coaches and parents, acknowledging the importance of the critical role each of these have in realising talent.  In addition we’ll be working closely with Southampton Solent University to encourage coaches with Talent Athletes to join Solent’s newly developed MSc in Athletic Development & Peak Performance.   Finally, mentoring will also play a key role in both identifying talented coaches and supporting any coach who wants to develop some expertise in coaching talent.

Whilst the Talent Coach Academy concept is new, we are building on existing infrastructure and good practice within our coaching network.  So what, you may ask, is new?

Even the most genetically advantaged still need to be nurtured and those without the advantage could potentially overcome their disadvantages and be even better given the right kind of support.

Stuart Armstrong, RFU

In the past despite the efforts of a variety of partners in the county, our support for coaches working with talent has been ad hoc and patchy.  Whilst some governing bodies do a lot support their appointed English Talent Pathway Coaches, there is generally inconsistent support for this wokring in clubs.  Our plan aims to link the expertise from identified by governing bodies and other coach development programmes e.g. Sport England’s STRIVE programme and UK Sport’s INSPIRE/ASPIRE programme, to those coaches working day-in, day-out with the talent on the ground.

Furtmore whislt we hope to create a bridge for those coaches aspiring to work at the performance end of sport, we also want to support and recognise the efforts of those who are essential to maximising the size of our talent pool by creating the spark for the athlete who aspires to one day turn their potential into greatness.

The Talent Coach Academy will officially launch this summer, but keep your eye out for updates a new events being added to the calendar over the coming weeks.

A Message from Kevin Harris, Southampton Solent University:

Picture of students exhibithing their Coaching Innovation Project, Heart of the Community

Heart of the Community is a porject aimed at reducing isolation in the elderly through physical activity.

Hello,

Firstly, on behalf of the Sports Coaching and Development team, I’d like to say a big thank you to you for attending this year’s Coaching Innovation Symposium. We received a lot of positive feedback for the event, as well as the projects. In addition, we would like to thank you for providing us with your feedback and any recommendations, which we will use to improve the event for the following year. We will also be passing on comments about the projects to allow the students to continue to develop their skills and for next year’s students to prepare for your questions!

This method of assessment is becoming increasingly popular, as it allows the students to interact with practitioners, discussing a real life project based around contemporary issues within the community. We would not be able to continue to do this for the students without the level of attendance received this year, so again we sincerely thank you.

We are pleased to announced that, while we are proud of all of our fantastic Coaching Innovation Projects this year, the winner of the Kukri sporting goody bag will be going to the girls of ‘Heart of the Community’, receiving the most votes on the night!

Once again, a massive thank you and we look forwards to seeing you next year! If you have any questions regarding the Coaching Innovation Programme, please do not hesitate to contact me (Kevin.Harris@solent.ac.uk).

Social Coaching: beyond performance

Last week I was reminded about the immense power of coaching at totally opposite ends of the participation spectrum. On Wednesday (30th April) I spent most of my day on the road, travelling to a sports coach UK partner event in Nottingham, where approximately thirty of my England Coaching Network colleagues met to discuss our strategies on supporting the coaches involved in UK’s talent landscape.  It was a massively powerful day and really resonated with me as a coach. I was forced to reflect on some of my own past and present experiences of working within the talent and performance domain. I love talking about talent development and contemplating ways to support our local talent coaches as well as developing new strategies and skills to improve my own coaching and my athletes.
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However, on Thursday I attended two very different events which couldn't have been further from the talent topic and yet have so many connecting threads, and were, to my surprise, equally inspirational.
Read the rest of this entry

A night full of Stars!

Last night St. Mary’s Football Stadium once again played host to the annual Hampshire and the Isle of Wight Sports Awards, proudly run and hosted by Hampshire County Council and Sport Hampshire & IOW.

CJ Lee presents the Performance Coach of the Year Award to Gymnastics Coach, Anne Bidmead.

CJ Lee presents the Performance Coach of the Year Award to Gymnastics Coach, Anne Bidmead.

More than 300 people from sports clubs around the county and the Isle of Wight turned out to recognise the individual and collective achievements of some of the counties most bright sporting stars.

Amongst the 17 different categories coaching was represented by six nominees across two categories. In the Participation Coach of the Year category nominees included: -

  • Barry Alldrick (Swimming)
  • Andrea Merritt (Swimming)
  • Emma West (Gymnastics)

In the Performance Coach of the Year catergory the nominees were: -

  • Bryan Andrews (Martial Arts)
  • Julian Such (Gymnastics)
  • Anne Bidmead (Gymnastics)

As is the norm the competition was stiff but everyone agreed that both Andrea (participation) and Anne (performance) were deserving winners and did a great job of representing female coaches across the county. Both winners were awarded trophies and a voucher (sponsored by COACHING HAMPSHIRE & IOW) towards thier continuing self-impovement in coaching.

After the obligatory post-presentation photo call, Coaching Development Manager, CJ Lee, commented:

It’s a real pleasure for us to be supporting two of the counties exceptional coaches in two very different categories, but of equal importance, to the development of potential talent and performance athletes.

Following the event we briefly spoke to Anne about how they got into coaching and what motivates them to keep going.

My daughter was up a fence at 18 months so I looked for a gymnastics club for her to join and I decided to help out for a term. A few years on, I’ve stayed as the kids are the drivers, sounds like a cliché but I wanted to get the kids off the streets and train quality coaches to support the kids. We have 2,300 kids coming to club sessions every week but there are more who we can reach to, helping them make a lifestyle change. I’d like to thank Basingstoke & Deane BC who are so supportive and proactive to help us achieve so much.

Anne Bidmead

We plan a series of more indepth interviews with a number of the shortlisted coaches, so watch this space or catch a copy of INSIDE COACHING to learn more about this years nominees and winners.

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