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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New MSc in Athletic Performance for coaches

Southampton Solent University are offering a new Masters in Athletic Development and Peak Performance. This is a perfect MSc for anyone looking to progress their career in coaching, performance analysis, strength and conditioning, education, health and exercise testing or sport science support.Solent Uni Logo

Why Solent

Whilst there are three Universities in Hampshire that offer sports-related undergraduate degrees, Southampton Solent University are the only one that offer both undergraduate and post-graduate degree studies in coaching and performance development. Southampton Solent Univeristy is unique in this regard, but also boasts a track record of exceptional student satisfaction and the new course will be delivered at its high-tech sports science facilities.

Structure and Content

The course will be delivered on a 1-day per week basis from September to September. The delivery will be supported by Solent’s strong academic team as well as industry leaders who will provide opportnities for ‘real-world’ learning throughout. The learning programme will have a good balance between theoritcal understanding and practical application.

Who’s it for

This MSc for anyone looking to progress their career in coaching, performance analysis, strength and conditioning, education, health and exercise testing or sport science support. If you want to strengthen your CV, develop a deeper understanding and expertise around coaching and performance development or want to write and/or contribute to the subject through published articles, then this is the degree programme for you.

Want to find out more

There’s still time to sign-up for entry to the 2014 intake. To be elibile you will need a 2:1 or above in a related degree and must successfully complete the entrance interview.

Fees

• UK and EU full-time fees: £5,500*

• International full-time fees: £11,670

If you want to find out more information or to have an informal discussion, please contact Matt Johnson or Dr Stewart Bruce-Low for more information (both available on 02380 319272).

Coaches key to creating more inclusive outdoor activities

Hampshire and the Isle of Wight offer unique access to waterways and beaches that everyone should have the opportunity to access.

Hampshire and the Isle of Wight offer unique access to waterways and beaches that everyone should have the opportunity to access.

Over the past 9-months the CHIOW Disability Coaching Network has been gearing up to support coach development with a view to increasing disability and inclusive sporting opportunities in the county.

So far we’ve hosted courses by sports coach UK and MENCAP with plans to deliver more inclusive training in Feb and March.

Working closely with other partner organisations we’re now hoping to bring another series of courses to coaches in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight. Thanks to growing interest in the Disability Awareness Training delivered by the Calvert Trust we are now in a position to confirm two new workshops, taking place in February.

The workshops will take place from 7th to the 10th February 2014.  Kaz White from Hampshire County Council’s Short Breaks Team explains

“This training has been subsidised by Hampshire’s ‘Short Breaks for Disabled Children Programme’, so that young people with disabilities can enjoy the same opportunities to participate in outdoor activities by having clubs and centres that offer activities for all.”

There are four different courses available:

General Disability Awareness in the Outdoors

This course is for anyone who leads or helps with groups in an outdoors environment. This can include reception staff, rangers, Scouts, Guides, activity instructors, volunteers…and more. No prior qualifications or experience required. This course is Institute of Outdoor Learning (IOL) approved. Duration: Full day course. Dates: The course is running twice so you can choose to do this either on the Friday 7th February or the Sunday 9th February. Cost: £40/person

Climbing Disability Awareness (Climbing for All)

This course is designed for any experienced and/or qualified climbing instructors. This is a MTA recognised course contributing 1 CPD point. Course attendees must be members of MTA to receive a certificate and CPD point. Duration: Full day. Cost: £40/person

Paddle-Ability (British Canoe Union – Canoeing Disability Awareness)

There are 2 levels of the BCU Paddle-Ability course. You can choose to do one or both courses. It is recommended that you complete the Level 1 module prior to doing Level 2.

• Level 1 – Paddle-Ability Foundation module This course is designed for any experienced and/or qualified canoeing coaches. Classroom based. Duration: Half day. Date: Saturday 8th February Cost: £20/person

• Level 2- Paddle-Ability Intermediate Module This course is designed for any experienced and/or qualified canoeing coaches. Classroom and outdoor based sessions. Duration: Full day Date: Sunday 9th February Cost: £40/person

Note: Each course is a single stand alone day. General disability awareness will be covered on all courses. Please see the attached flyer for full details and complete and return the booking form to secure your place/s. There are discounts available if you attend more than one course.

The feedback from previous training delivered has been extremely positive, so it’s great that the Calvert Trust team are able to deliver this high quality training again. Note that places on all of the courses are limited and bookings will be on a first come, first served basis.

To book a place contact Kaz.White@hants.gov.uk for a booking form.

Hampshire Young Coach wins the “Harry Mills Team Maker” award

Picture of Stephen Mills accepting his award at Loughborough

Stephen Smith from Wesgate Badminton Club picks up the prestigious “Harry Mills Team Maker Award”

Stephen Smith recently attended a three day all sports coaching seminar at Loughborough University with 230 other Coaches and officials from, all sports around the country, and was awarded the top award for the three days this is an outstanding achievement for Stephen and Badminton who has come through our Coaches academy at Westgate Badminton Centre in Hampshire again, a huge congratulations to Stephen Smith. 230 coaches and officials is a lot of ambitious people to stand out from.

The Search for the Philosopher’s Stone Continues…

On Friday I was having a coffee with a University Lecturer friend of mine. He was telling me about the focus for his day’s lecture with undergraduates studying coaching. The topic of the lecture explored the importance of philosophy in coaching. We enthusiastically set to putting coach education in the UK to rights, highlighting how little coaching philosophy is covered within the vanguard of traditional coach development and coach education.

This brief breakfast conversation made me reflect on my own 24-years of coaching and how I came about my own coaching philosophy. Like many coaches I began with a love for my sport; first playing, then assisting and eventually coaching and teaching. When I took my first qualifications I was introduced to the four pillars of player development; physical preparation, technical development; tactical development and mental development.  After 7-years of that journey I started my Level 3 studies, but even studying at this level did not afford me the opportunity to explore the true value of a coach’s philosophy.

Along the way I clumsily borrowed bits of philosophy from great players and coaches in my sport and others (I am grateful to the likes of Michael Jordan, Phil Jackson and Vince Lombardi).  But at times this left me with a mish-mash of ideas, values and platitudes that I could not easily articulate or share with others.

Picture of Vince Lombardi

Vince Lombardi was born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1913. As head coach and general manager of the Green Bay Packers, Lombardi led the team to three NFL championships and to victories in Super Bowls I and II (1967 and 1968). Because of his success, he became a national symbol of single-minded determination to win.

If you submit to the school of thought that coaching is about developing people as much as it is about winning games and titles, then a coach’s philosophy should be at the heart of their coaching tool kit.

Philosophy, for me, is a combination of so many things it’s no wonder we rarely give it the credence it deserves in traditional coach development. Philosophy might be described as beliefs about what makes a good coach and good coaching. Those beliefs in turn should influence the behaviours, values and character of the players, assistant coaches and other support staff that engage with the coach.

In my own coaching we (my players and other coaches) talk about character, mental approach, tactical approach and measurement. We value confidence, teamwork, integrity & honesty, determination & hard work, discipline & focus and sacrifice.

However, it’s not enough to simply talk about character, values and ethics. The challenge for any coach is how their personal philosophy and own coaching behaviours positively influences the collective values of the team or the athletes they coach.

This is no simple thing, and after 20-plus years of coaching, I’m still trying to refine how best to “walk-the-walk and talk-the-talk”.  So, I’ve co-opted the help of my colleague and friend, Richard Cheetham, to help us explore this subject in greater depth in a series of articles over the coming months. We’ll look at some of the following challenges for coaches: –

  • How do you create a meaningful coaching philosophy?
  • Getting your players and staff to walk the talk?
  • Understanding the C-system?

In the meantime, give some thought to your own coaching philosophy and feel free to share any pearls of wisdom that currently serve you well.  It may help to couch your thoughts in terms of the following: –

  • What are your core coaching values?
  • How do your coaching ethics affect these values?
  • Who sets the values, ethics and behaviours for your team and how are these monitored and measured?
  • How do you encourage your players to express their character in your coaching?

Whilst my own philosophy is more about developing people than just winning, this is one of my all-time favourite Vince Lombardi quotes.

Winning is not a sometime thing; it’s an all the time thing.

You don’t win once in a while; you don’t do things right once in a while; you do them right all of the time.

Winning is a habit.

Unfortunately, so is losing

The newly formed Disability Coaching Network

DCN

Off the back of the most successful Paralympics ever, Coaching Hampshire & IOW are looking to raise the profile of disabled and non-disabled coaches in sport. Our plan is to recruit, develop, deploy and retain 50 coaches to support disability sport across Hampshire and the Isle of Wight over the next 2-years and beyond

There are around 11 million disabled people in the UK, less than two in ten disabled people in England are taking part in sport. To overcome this The Disability Coaching Network primary focus is to work with NGBs to identify the best coaches and mentors to support coaches within disability sport, with the hope to increase the inclusion of disabled individuals within sport. We aim to bring like-minded volunteers and professionals together to share ideas, practice, and resources. By working together we hope to continue to:

• Raise the profile of disabled and non-disabled coaches in sport.
• Recruit, develop and retain more coaches who can deliver inclusive sport
• Support coach development through coach mentoring and training
• Create a collaborative community of deliverers and organisations
• Influence coaches through aspirational role models.

Coaching Hampshire & IOW carried out a survey to indicate the barriers which may exist in disability sport and disability sport coaching. Information received has helped us to strengthen the Disability Coaching Network to deliver a coaching provision which is best suited to disability sport needs and that aim to address the barriers that exists.
Main barriers were;

  • Limited access to information and resources
  • Limited opportunities and programmes for participation, training and competitions
  • Anxiety and lack of confidence in coaches.

For us to continue to develop The Disability Coaching Network we need to sign up coaches in disability sport or those who wish to be more inclusive. Please could you follow the link and sign up. This would give you a chance to share your ideas and solutions and for us to inform you of up-coming workshops and opportunities.

http://www.coachinghampshireiow.co.uk/coaching_projects/disability_coaching_network

On your marks, get set, go!

This week I had the good fortune to rub shoulders with some of Hampshire’s brightest and best coaches from Athletics.

Meeting Erik Little…

Picture of Erik Little

Erik is a regular tutor at England Athletics Local and National Coach Development workshops

On Tuesday I met up with old friend Erik Little. Erik did some work for Coaching Hampshire & IOW a couple of years ago, helping us to promote the benefits of fundamental [functional] movement with our young leaders and then again with Hampshire’s Badminton set. Two-years on Erik has continued to guide the next generation of track and field athletes to achieve their goals. Like most coaches, Erik is judged on the accomplishment on his athletes. In what has been described as Hampshire’s most successful year ever, Erik coached three of the Hampshire athletes who won English Schools medals as this year’s National Championships.

Its clear that after just talking to Erik for an hour, he is not only immensely passionate about coaching, but he has the knowledge and experience to match. Having coached Olympic level athletes in Canada, Eric was offered the chance to be fast-tracked to performance coach status, but refused, explaining “I want to learn from the bottom-up, not the other way around”.

Like many coaches, Erik developed his understanding of coaching by learning from others. In the early days Erik reflects on the knowledge he picked up from the Eastern Europeans who were already experimenting with ‘Plyometrics’ and what Eric now describes as “High Velocity Strength Training”. Over the past two-decades Erik has been developing a system to make marginal, albeit measurable, gains in the performance of his athletes. Whilst a 3-5% improvement in physical performance doesn’t seem like much to some, you can bet that those are performance gains elite athletes would die for.

picture of man using a medicine ball

High Velocity Strength Training involves a combination of jumping, landing, resistance and speed work.

He also knows that there’s some reluctance for coaches to fully embrace physical development particularly working with younger athletes, where puberty and growth spurts can often be confused with improved performance. This challenge encouraged Erik to devise a way for coaches to learn about functional movement and movement efficiency, without the need for a degree in biomechanics or sport science. Using his skills as an illustrator, Erik has painstakingly created over 1200 drills that can be used in a systematic and progressive way, that can support coaches and athletes in their own development.

I’ve systematised the area and encourage coaches to create their own system using the various drills…move away from sporadic or occasional usage, or worse, wait until injury forces a change. I use the acronym MOVERS for the programming and have also organised the thousand or so drills into categories that are developmental, apply to many sports and have measureable results. I link the area as well to dynamic posture work using MBalls etc.

Erik has agreed to present a couple of sessions for coaches in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight and we hope to run sessions utlising Erik’s unique approach, both pre and post Xmas.

Supporting Coaches Workshop

On Wednesday 25th September I co-delivered a coach education workshop with Chris Benning. Chris is the Club & Coach Support Officer (Hampshire) for

Picture of Christine Benning

Christine Benning, Club & Coach Officer for England Athletics

England Athletics, but what some of you don’t know is that Chris is also Olympic and World Championship finalist, taking a Silver at the 1978 Commonwealth Games.

The session was aimed at the various ways we can support our coaching workforce, looking specfically at recruitment, development and retention.

Recruitment

Recruitmen isn’t just about having processes, but its about understanding the type of club you are. Before you can begin to recruit the right coaches, you need to know what you are recruiting them to do. Delegates where asked to consider: –

  • Your club’s aims and objectives – what do you want to achieve and how
  • Your values – the characteristics and behviours of your athletes, coaches and supporters
  • Your performance measures – what does success look like e.g. more members, individual improvement, winning championships

Development

Many of the delegates talked about the challenges of getting coaches to look outside of the club for additional development. Some even confessed that their own coaches made little effort to share ideas within their own club workforce. The workshop highlighted a variety of ways to support coaches beyond traditional qualifications, which included: –

  • Formal – coaching qualifications (assessment of knowledge and understanding)
  • Non-Formal – workshops, videos, books (skills development that can support qualifications)
  • Informal – mentoring, observation, coaching practice and self-reflection (experiential learning)

Retention

Finally we looked at ways to reduce drop-out and keep more coaches coaching for longer. The group discussed why on average 75% of athletics are aged over 40 and whilst the Leaders in Running Fitness has seen a dramatic increase in female coaches, why there are still more men than women involved in Athletics coaching. Some of the obvious ways to retain coaches included: –

  • Saying thank you
  • Promoting the work of coaches in news articles alongside the success of their athletes
  • Nominating them for local, regional and national awards

However, the topic that caused the most discussion was the idea of paying coaches. Whilst some were of the opinion that paying coaches would send their respectives clubs into a spiral of financial ruin, it was generally accepted that volunteering should not cost volunteer coaches any money. Most agreed that by making even a small increase to subscription fees, expenses (or a contribution towards them) could be made.

If you’re interested in learning more about how to support and manage your coaching workforce more effectively, then get in touch then send us an email or check out our Coach Education pages on the website.

10,000 hours – part MMXIII!

Picture of author Daniel Coyle

Daniel Coyle, author of the international best sellers “The Talent Code”

Daniel Coyle is the author of The Talent Code, sub-titled ‘Greatness isn’t Born, It’s Grown, Here’s How’. David Epstein wrote The Sports Gene (‘Inside the Science of Extraordinary Performance’), which seemed fundamentally at odds with Coyle.

What happened when they met? Were there tears at teatime? Blood on the carpet? (Actually, it was all very civilised.) You can read Daniel’s transcript of their meeting, but before you do, here’s a reflective question for you:

  • What’s most important when it comes to performance?
  • Quality of coaching
  • Genes
  • Motivation/mindset
  • Quality of practice

Put these four options in order of importance, then click here to read what happened when Dan met Dave.

Conquering a Crisis

By Adam Kelly
PhD researcher in Sport Pyschology, Southampton Solent University

The term ‘crisis’ is used every now and then in sporting circles, however, it is also known as panic (when referring to an individual) or a collapse.  Adam Kelly asks; is this a bad thing? Taking the emotion out of the situation; a crisis could be your chance to change or a turning point for you or your team.

But how do you change? How can you minimise the negative effects of a crisis?

Tips for coaches
As coaches we invest masses of time and energy into our athletes and their performances. We know that staying objective and taking our emotions out of the situation is the best thing we can do, but this is easier said than done.
As coaches we have an effect on how our athletes view the situations facing them. Our body language, the terms we use, tactics we apply and the knowledge we provide can all impact the athletes’ perception of the situation. In these situations athletes are far more sensitive than usual. Therefore we need to provide a consistent message in these ‘crisis’ situations.

Tip 1: Staying calm
The key to dealing with a crisis at the time, is to stay calm. As coaches we have the opportunity to step back, look around and assess the situation before we make a decision.

This process is what Dr Steven Peters has termed ‘putting your chimp in a box’. This term is based on a scientific understanding of how the human brain reacts to situations. We are receiving a variety of stimuli from all around us, we cannot control those stimuli, but we can control our reactions. This is where Dr Peters’ term comes into play, as the primitive part of our brain will want to flight or fight the stimuli or situation. However, as human beings we have developed the ability to use our brain to make a decision based on our previous and vicarious experiences, not just the immediate siutation.  In a matter of seconds we can come up with a variety of solutions.

Commentators will often say ‘she/he is cool as a cucumber’, when actually their strength is just controlling their reaction to the stimuli they are facing.

Tip 2: Overcoming adversity
In sport there comes a moment in every coach and athletes career when we face and overcome adversity. Why do some succeed and others not? I would suggest the preparation for said situation is a key component for succeeding.

As we know ‘crisis’ situations will happen over a season, however not regularly enough for athletes to familiarize themselves with.  When preparing for a season, outline possible situations or ‘worst case’ scenarios. Implement these scenarios into training allowing the athletes to try new or reinforce certain tactics, mindsets and techniques. This helps provide the experience of these crisis situations. When the previous experience and familiarization is positive it helps contribute to increased levels of self-efficacy and confidence in our athletes.

Tip 3: Crisis means opportunity
In the aftermath of the ‘crisis’ some athletes will react to it as ‘a bad day at the office’, some will take it personally and get angry, others will dismiss or forget it. These are all natural reactions; once they have subsided we can assess the situations and look at a variety of options for the future. This provides us with the opportunity to change our behaviours or use the ‘crisis’ as a turning point as Pritchard suggests.

Review the situation that the team or athlete faced.  Take emotions out of the equation and deal in facts (also understand the players’ perspective). Try not to dismiss obscure tactics used by others, as this can become a bigger issue if other teams follow suit. After this review, start planning the changes, don’t be afraid of trying something new. This is the time to try new tactics, techniques, philosophy, physical training etc as the athletes will want to improve and are more open to new ideas.

A good example of this approach is the Australian cricket team losing the Ashes for the first time in 18-years back in 2005. Afterwards the Australian team analysed the situation and their response, thereby giving them to the

John was not afraid to try new tactics when overcoming adversity.  Changing behaviours sometimes requires thinking outside of the box.

John was not afraid to try new tactics when overcoming adversity. Changing behaviours sometimes requires thinking outside of the box.

opportunity to change their approach. Head coach John Buchanan took the team away for a boot camp where players and coaching staff were treated like soldiers. Everyone was assigned a role and had to follow a chain of command. Players and coaching staff had to carry water and camping equipment for hours across the outback. That night they only had a few hours sleep before been woken up and marched for another few hours. The key was for the group to develop new behaviours for dealing with adversity and understanding how, as a team, they could pull together when the going got tough.  They played the return series in Australia 2006-7 and won all five matches.

 Tip 4: Detailed planning
Plan future training, competition tactics and techniques in detail. Include back up plans for ‘crisis’ situations or obscure tactics. The coach and captain need to work together to provide the team with a clear direction and rationale for that direction. The direction is the new style of training or tactics being deployed. This direction needs time for the team to understand and may require reviewing. The review is a good time to include the team, as they will provide an insight into the training, which should be reflected the new direction.

A great example of using detailed planning to effect is former British Lions coach Sir Ian McGeechan. He uses a 45-minute warm-up for professional rugby teams, which is detailed by the minute. No vague areas, no generalised statements, everyone is focused upon maximising time and effort to get ready for competition.

Tips for athletes
As athletes we train day after day to prepare as best we can for competition and then on game day everything goes wrong. In our heads we ask ourselves ‘Why do I bother?’, ‘Am I good enough?’ or we tell ourselves ‘Everything is against me.’ So how can you perform with these thoughts and facing ‘crisis’ situations?

Tip 1: Staying calm
The same principles apply to athletes as they do to coaches.  We are all human and all have the same parts to our brains. We need to control our reaction to the stimuli or situation we are facing, by thinking and not reacting on our primitive instincts. This will give us the best chance of making the right decisions, which can turn the performance around.
Two examples of performers using Dr Peters ‘chimp in the box’ technique are: Ronnie O’Sullivan (World Snooker

Dr. Stephen Peters, pictured with Olympic Champion Victoria Pendleton.  Dr. Peters Chimp Philosophy was key to helping several members of the British team to stay calm under the intense pressure of competition and adversity.

Dr. Stephen Peters, pictured with Olympic Champion Victoria Pendleton. Dr. Peters Chimp Philosophy was key to helping several members of the British team to stay calm under the intense pressure of competition and adversity.

Champion) and the GB Cycling team (8 Olympic Gold’s). Both achieved great success by staying calm when difficult situations arose.

 Tip 2: Belief
Even when these doubts are in our heads, we can still turn the performance around. Great examples of athletes performing in a ‘crisis’ situation are; Jonny Wilkinson’s drop goal to win the world cup, Ben Ainslie’s comeback to win Olympic sailing gold or the European golf team’s Ryder Cup win.

What these performers have in common in these situations is an inner belief that they will succeed. This belief is linked to self-efficacy, which is our perception of us succeeding at the task in hand. Self-efficacy can be built up through four factors: –

  1. previous experiences
  2. vicarious experience
  3. verbal persuasion
  4. physical state.

Of these factors, we know that our physical condition and previous experience are important, however, vicarious experiences and verbal persuasion can be equally important. Good examples of vicarious experiences are that of a team that ‘have the momentum’. When you see your teammates performing successfully you gain in confidence as a result, this is called vicarious experiences. Vicarious experiences can often lead to outsiders saying that the ‘momentum has changed’, as other players start performing better after seeing their teammates playing well.

Tip 3: Preparation
The underpinning for success in any sport is preparation. Coaches can provide the best training session, but if you (the athlete) do not engage in the session it becomes pointless. Athletes should be looking to improve everyday and every training session. This is easy to say, especially in amateur sport, as life can take over, but once you are at training you need to utilise every minute.

As an amateur athlete you may train twice a week for two hours that is only 4 hours. Elite athletes train for 30+ hours a week and they still make mistakes, so make sure you prepare effectively and utilise training sessions to give yourself the best chance of succeeding in those ‘crisis’ situations.

Summary

In conclusion we all need to take emotion out of the ‘crisis’ situation and work on the facts. Coaches should realise that the athletes will look to them for guidance and the coaches will look to the athletes to believe in their abilities. Together coaches and athletes can use ‘crisis’ situations to improve performance and develop more appropriate behaviours.

Follow Adam on twitter: @adamkellypsych or visit his blog: adamkellyblog.wordpress.com

Business lessons for coaches

Every now and then the meetings we attend at work can be really refreshing and inspire us [yes, inspire] to do things differently…

Business Photo 1

Business has lots to offer coaches. The skills that effective business leaders use to flourish in the current economic climate, could provide some solutions for coaches desperate to unlock the potential of their sports specific expertise.

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
Coach mentoring

Taking to time to share ideas with our coaches is a great way of supporting their development and validating their contribution to your team’s goals.

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.

Business Essentials – 6th March 2013, 18:30 – 21.30,  River Park Lesiure Centre, Winchester

Effective Communication – 7th March 2013, 18:30 – 20: 00, Winklebury Football Complex, Basingstoke

Talent Coaches Breakfast Club: How Do We Get the Edge, 08:30 – 11.30, University of Winchester, Winchester