The Robin Hood School of Coaching: Shadowing experienced coaches is a great way to develop.
Ever considered the best ways to learn and improve as a sports coach? From others is a great way!
The title to this is a little misleading. I don’t think it is a great idea to go around stealing content from other coaches, but you can certainly benefit from spending time in the company of those with a bit more experience.
Once you have done this, it is really important to reflect on what you have seen, and decide on the best way to implement it into your own practice. The mistake I have seen people make is they observe a session on Monday, and without thinking, they put it straight into their session on Tuesday.
Why does this not work? It’s simple really, what you have seen on Monday was for that specific situation, whereas you have a totally different group of athletes you are working with on Tuesday. Although the principles are the same (assuming it was the same sport), you are creating your own vision and should not lose sight of that, whilst at the same time looking at improving your own performance for the benefit of your team.
Sports Coaches are Approachable
Recently I spent time with Andy Boyd who is Head of Fitness at Edinburgh Rugby, who this year reached the Semi-finals of the Heineken Cup for the first time. He is really approachable and happy to share; he has also played and worked at amateur level for Stirling County RFC so understands the considerations when coaching this level of sport.
We were discussing speed work, which is such an important component for team sports, and how difficult it is to have individual improvement when there is a coach to player ratio of 1:25! It was clear from his and my experience that the best way to do this is to be clear on 3 or 4 key principles and keep referring back to them. This is a great way to structure your coaching, whatever the theme, and I have included an example below.
It is important to understand how to get your athletes to buy into these principles and make a connection. I am going to use ‘change of direction’ as an example and discuss how I try to use imagery to make that link.
- Highlight the concept you are trying to get across (Rate of Force Development)
- Give them the ‘image’ (An explosion in this case – very forceful, very fast)
- Reinforce the ‘image’ (I have asked my athletes to shout ‘BANG’ very quickly – gets a laugh, but gives clarity on the concept)
- Give time to practice with intervention and reinforcement.
This is just one example, and a small part of coaching effective change of direction, but it will hopefully stimulate some thought.
As ever, it would be great to hear of positive experiences you have had observing others, the lessons you learned, and how you implemented them.
I look forward to hearing from you…