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.
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: –
- Intergrate & Increase: focus on running courses with 50:50 ratio of men to women
- Develop accessible formats: explore bite-size learning options and blended learning e.g. on-line learning
- Improve pre-course information: help to demystufy the coach education experience e.g. pre-course video
- Develop mentoring schemes: mentors are proven to improve the coaching journey and individual efficacy for new coaches
- 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.
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.
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.
Coaching Development Manager
Sport Hampshire & IOW