Love Coaching – “It’s not about Netball it’s about young people”
it’s about each individual young person at the club. Every single one of them has a story, every single one of them has something going on in their life, some good, some not so good, and it’s my job as their netball coach to support them with whatever it is.
Why I love Coaching
It’s 5.15pm on a Monday and I’m shovelling beans on toast down my neck after a hectic day at work, trying to think about what to do with the team this week. I can’t find my trainers, yet alone my whistle and I haven’t sorted myself a drink for my own training session afterwards. Plate thrown in the washing up bowl, trainers on and whistle found, time to go!
I have been involved in netball coaching since the age of 16 when I was suddenly too old to play for the junior teams at my club, and I wanted to help out. I already had my C award umpiring qualification so there I was, thrown in at the deep end with the under 12 team. I loved it! From the very first session, the first time I spoke to the team, that first blow of the whistle, I was hooked. And here I am, over 10 years later with two Sport Coaching Degrees and England Netball coaching qualifications coming out of my ears. I have coached numerous teams over the years as I’ve moved around the country for different jobs; junior teams, senior teams, school teams, back to netball teams, university teams, I’ve done them all; but the Under 16s are my absolute favourite.
Lots of people think I’m crazy giving up my time to coach in the first place, but when I say I coach 15 and 16 year olds, more often than not, the eyebrows raise or a little laugh come out. “Why would you want to coach stroppy teenage girls” or a similar comment usually follows. I’ll tell you why, it’s because these young people are at such a difficult time in their lives, trying to balance school, exams, life decisions, friends, relationships, families, the list goes on. I love it because it’s not even about the netball; it’s about each individual young person at the club. Every single one of them has a story, every single one of them has something going on in their life, some good, some not so good, and it’s my job as their netball coach to support them with whatever it is.
This is the Street Games programme I am a part of
I alluded to the fact that I have a lot of qualifications in sport and sports coaching but so what? My under 16 team don’t care about that, at least not in the first instance anyway! I heard a quote once “Young people don’t care what you know, until they know that you care” and I believe whole heartedly in this statement. Now, I’m not saying that qualifications aren’t important, of course they are. However, for me, the softer skills that you don’t necessarily get taught on these qualifications are just as important, and in some scenarios, more so. The ability to talk to a young person and empathise with them, in my opinion, will enable you as a coach to better engage with that individual and in time, help them to achieve more in your sessions. If you ignore whatever else is going on in their lives, or indeed what has happened in their day before they turn up to netball, how on earth do you expect to engage them in purposeful and meaningful activity and practice?
I like to think that I fully embrace the challenges that my team are going through in their lives and have created a safe place for them to come to for an hour on a Monday night. A place where they can be teenagers, play netball, and post a team selfie on social media because they are having fun, which after all is what being a teenager, and playing sport, is all about – having fun!
Claire has worked in Sports Development since 2009 when she started working as a Sport and Physical Activity Development Officer at a College. Claire then joined the County Sports Partnership in Essex working on a Sport England Active Women funded project, before moving to StreetGames in late 2012.
Claire started working with StreetGames in 2012, liaising with National Governing Bodies in England, and more recently in Wales. Her main areas of responsibility include preparing NGBs to target the disadvantaged youth market as well as designing and testing new products to this market. Claire is also a tutor and assessor for the StreetGames Training Academy.
Claire has a passion for sports coaching and has a range of qualifications in this field, including Handball, Trampolining and Netball UKCC Level 2. Claire also coaches at a junior netball club in Bristol and mentors young coaches in the area.