“we need to develop world class coaches for beginners”Frank Dick
A couple of weeks ago, I posted on the challenge of developing coaches to work with beginners — children, or adults, new to a sport or to sports in general.
When I wrote that post, I asked what was being done to deliver on the ambition espoused by Frank Dick, and supported by many others.
I received some feedback that recognised the issue, but no suggestions of what could be done about it.
Since then, I have completed a quietly inspirational online course, Coaching Others to Coach.
And I might have seen the future of coach development in England.
Just maybe, it looks a bit like you, or me.
Many coaches working at the entry level will be volunteers, often relatively inexperienced, and perhaps with little prospect of developing skills within their existing coaching environment.
The perception is that “better” coaches work with “better” athletes, therefore to become “better” a coach is obliged to aspire to move “up” the coaching ladder, from a participation role towards Development or Performance environments.
But if you want to be a great coach for beginners? You are pretty much by yourself.
Hence the call from Frank Dick et al. — we need to develop world class beginners’ coaches.
But is it happening?
In my last post, I rather dismissed the crucial role of mentors in the new coach development pathway as “…a remedial exercise to supplement the training offered in streamlined level 1 & 2 courses.”
But I might have missed the point on mentoring.
The Coaching Others to Coach course, supported by Sport England and hosted on the Open Learn platform, includes excellent sections on active listening skills, asking good questions, and how to provide effective feedback — specifically in the role of coach developer, but equally relevant to the coaching function, as well.*
There are also several interesting (and challenging) thoughts on mentoring.
And this might be an area with scope for supporting the beginners’ coach.
Learning at this level is perhaps more about getting better at what you do, rather than looking to pick up more technical knowledge. Sharing experience with coaches in similar roles, rather than looking at the “Performance” coaches and trying to copy what they do.
No point aping Trevor Bayliss when you are coaching the u9s softball squad!
With the greatest respect to the coach developers I have met, it might be that they are not the best candidates as mentors for coaches in participation roles.
There is a lot to be said in favour of peer-to-peer mentoring and the development of “critical friendships”. Learning from and with fellow coaches; sharing best practice.
Perhaps rather grandly described as “communities of practice”…why shouldn’t a “self help” group develop around a coach ed cohort, or a group of local grassroots clubs?
OK — another element for my coach ed minimum set — peer-to-peer mentoring.
* The sections on listening, questions & feedback are so good, in fact, that some of them might qualify for the coach ed minimum set!
As coaches we are told that questioning is a key skill. How often do we really get beyond CfU?
That we should Observe, then provide Feedback. But are we ever taught how to really observe or listen? Or the most effective way of providing feedback?