When I passed my 1st Coach Qualification I was ready to go and coach 🙂
or so I thought ?
I had a structure to follow and had been taught how to plan a session
I could teach at least 6 basic strokes
During my examination, I repeated exactly what my Tutor had advised and I passed
However, within 12 months, I faced these problems
- I’d run out of new ideas
- I was repeating the same things every few lessons
- I really didn’t know to ensure that my coaching progressed the players
- I had no idea how to prevent the critical errors I could see and I started to see plenty
- I had no one to talk with about my problems and questions
- My only source of information was Social Media (YouTube and Instagram)
So what did I do?
I signed up for the next coach education course 18 months later. It was the next level and again, I passed.
I could now understand the critical aspect of more advanced strokes. I knew how to use different feeding techniques. I could manage a group of 16 players. I could write better goals.
I was asked to progress practices (easy – difficult, simple – complex), but did I really understand what this meant. We only had 2 hrs to understand these concepts and try them out!
I met lots of other coaches, we all swapped ideas, this really helped and I learnt lots from them. Maybe more than I’d learnt previously.
I found it interesting that other coaches were experiencing the same problems as I had and that’s why they were there. They were looking for answers.
The next 6 months produced another set of problems
- I tried to pass all the knowledge I had to my players, I wanted them to know as much as I did, but they didn’t seem motivated to hear the detail
- I worked my players harder physically but it didn’t help them in games, they still made errors and weren’t consistent
- I could see what I thought was progress in lessons but in tournaments, my players seemed to forget everything
- I felt under-supported and had no one to talk with, apart from posts of Instagram and YouTube
- The list of questions (without answers) in my head was growing faster than I could answer
- I questioned my ability as a Coach, although some practices did appear to work
What was I missing ?? What did I need to do ??
It was then that I experienced the luckiest moment of my coaching life … I met my future coaching mentor, who very quickly became a life long friend.
The story about our meeting will be the subject of a future post as I’ve plenty to tell you. It’s been a fantastic journey.
Over the next 6 – 18 months I learnt more about coaching, especially the art of coaching than I had on all of the Coach Education courses. Most of it was in a practical setting on the court, but also in his house over the breakfast/dinner table. There was no escaping the learning and challenges!!
The best part was that they were related to the challenges I faced at that time. Specific to me, my knowledge. The best part was that I was involved in my learning, I was asked questions and allowed to explore the answers.
I now understand that my best, ‘sticky’ learning comes from me having questions and someone willing to lead me towards a possible answer. Not telling me, but suggestings and guiding.
My advice to you is split into 2 parts ….
When you attend a Coach Education course
- Go with questions to be answered
- Make at least 2 new contacts
- Look and listen closely to what others say and do
- Take notes and record those things that surprise you
How to improve every year
- Create a small coaching support group: talk openly and honestly about your thoughts
- Find a mentor or at least someone to discuss those questions you have, challenge each other
- Consider alternatives, but be careful of ‘creating’ new ways of playing, stick to searching for the best ways of coaching
- Be careful of reverting to the way you coached. Can you really remember what you did aged 9-13 yrs old?
- Seek to delivery more by doing and saying less, seek to increase the effectiveness of everything you do. You’ll have to work hard at this 🙂
- Every 6 months review if your players are exhibiting the skills that you’ve been working on – in a competition, not your training
- Be careful that your players don’t just become great at your practices, they may have just got used to where the shuttle is going, or you have just been feeding them
- Don’t believe that the internet (especially Instagram) has all (if any) of the answers
Your development as a Coach is in your hands, seek out those can inspire and collaborate with them