Why Reflection is a Vital Component in Your Coaching Toolbox
If we think back to those very early coaching sessions and the skills we had in our toolbox, how many of us can actually say that we coached? Not me!
We try to be organised and set up drills so that sessions run smoothly, but we all know his isn’t really coaching.
Many of us lack confidence, and the way this is commonly overcome is to talk a lot and give lots of coaching points (to the group and not really to individuals) and generally make sure everyone is busy. But is this actually coaching? Far from it.
Reflecting on coaching practice
Reflecting on coaching practice is essential to your development as a coach, and I did just this with a good friend of mine, Graeme Moffat, in the summer over a couple of beers in Calgary where he is now based.
Graeme is a very ambitious coach and is currently coaching rugby full-time in Canada for the Calgary Hornets and on a part-time basis for the Canada U19 and 20 squads. One thing that stood out from that conversation was how much his sessions had changed in the last couple of years, in particular the structure he now uses.
Our attentions turned to a time when he was head coach for Stewart’s Melville RFC and I was in the dual role of Strength and Conditioning Coach and player (not easy to do, but more of this in a later post).
A huge amount of thought had gone into our first session at the club. We were both young coaches in our first ‘senior’ coaching job and therefore we wanted to make an instant impact to try to prove ourselves worthy appointments. The result could be only described as; the most organised fun ever!
Any other person looking in on us once we had finished setting up would have wondered what had caused such a huge ‘cone explosion’! There were cones everywhere, clearly identifying the areas to work in for the next 90 minutes.
Confidence is King
Anyway, the point is, whenever I have lacked confidence in coaching, I have tended to organize ‘the crap’ out of the session! This can have the effect of limiting the athlete’s ability to learn, as the environment they’re in is too restrictive with too many boundaries.
Graeme would now happily admit that people looking in on his sessions today would wonder if there was even a coach there (a slight exaggeration maybe). However, he also firmly believes that this organised chaos, and the carefully planned questions that go with it, are the keys to successful coaching. These type of sessions take a great deal of confidence, planning and knowledge to run, but also bring great reward to him and most importantly the athletes in his team, as they gain a huge learning experience discovering various elements from the session without the barriers of; do this, do that, or, run to the blue cone!
In short, he (as I am) is a huge believer in the ‘Athlete-Centred’ approach to coaching, which will be a focus in a later post.
So, the two things taken from our reflection in the summer is to have confidence in my ability as a coach and to be patient to give athletes time to work things out for themselves (there may be a few mistakes along the way, but that’s fine)!
This is a great time of year for some reflection and to get into good habits for the coming season. It would be great to hear of your early experiences in coaching, and the key areas you feel you have developed in…