Back in the autumn of 2014 I attended a series of CPD workshops, delivered by Dan Feist (Essex CB) and Richard Hall (then with Surrey CB) – ECB Coaching Children, for level 2 coaches.
Still waiting for the “Diploma” schedule – the opportunity to convert the workshops into a recognised coaching qualification – but the workshops were certainly interesting & thought-provoking.
As with any CPD, however, attending the course is one thing, but what really matters is post-training “D” – was there actually any Development in coaching practice? How much of the workshop content have I actually managed to put into practice?
ECB Coaching Children workshops – putting it into practice
The three workshops covered Game Based Learning, Skill Development, & Creating the Learning Climate. Taking separately the workshops presented important practical advice, but together they almost amount to a “philosophy” of coaching.
Game Based Learning
I was already sold on this concept, before the workshops. I have written before – one of my motivations for becoming a coach is that I enjoy playing games! So this workshop perhaps just gave me the green light to do more of what I wanted to do!
I encourage the players I work with to play lots of game, at almost any opportunity and in all coaching situations – certainly in group sessions with young players, but also in one-to-ones with “YPA”. The batters I coach in the nets now rarely get to have a hit against the bowling machine or throwdowns without being presented with some sort of challenge or game-like scenario.
Two favourites: the “Shivnarine Chanderpaul bowling machine challenge” and “Powerplay” – batting against a bowler or throwdowns with a realistic (imaginary) field setting. The latter can be brutal – normally “can you get to 40 or 50 in six overs”, but sometimes with just the single wicket in hand – if you are out, you are out, and we’ll do some fielding practice to finish the session.
An interesting module, as it effectively sought to re-introduce skill development into games, by modifying game and drill design to drive “holistic skill development” – core principles (technical) alongside tactical, physical and mental skills, all in a single practice.
Certainly challenging – technical & physical seem to go together easily enough, and tactical comes through in appropriately challenging games; introducing mental skills felt harder…more work needed on this!
One element of skill development that was emphasised is the need for the coach to encourage “self discovery” by the players – not “going away to find themselves”, but discovering solutions (physical, technical, tactical or mental) without coaching intervention. Not always easy for the coaches, who need to take a step back and stop providing (all of) the answers!
Still – it can be done
by allowing more game time, and perhaps “seeding” ideas with leading questions;
by setting challenges to be solved, rather than providing answers;
simply by asking more questions.
Creating the Learning Environment for Children
“Coach the player, not the skill” – great advice, and something I certainly aspire to…but I know I am sometimes guilty of coaching what I think the player wants/needs, rather than really considering the player.
So this module, with its emphasis on simple learning principles to make sessions relevant, challenging and fun, probably provided the linking element across all of the Coaching Children Workshops.
How well do I apply the learning principles, in planning and delivery?
“Improving” might be the best rating. For me, the principles perhaps provide a framework for review – 11 checkpoints against which to compare a session, then (hopefully) improve next time.
Three fascinating workshops, which have changed the way I think about my coaching, and (hopefully) helped me to improve planning and delivery.
postscript (Feb 2017) – since originally posting this blog, the web pages for the individual workshops have been removed from the ECB site, along with any pages outlining the Coach Development pathway. The original workshop pages have been archived on the Wayback Machine (https://archive.org/web/) – links to the archived pages are included, for reference.