After being posed the question of why, how or when did I last change my mind in regards to my coaching and being advised to visit the article  The question is still being unpicked in my brain a week later which I thought this blog post would provide me with a good opportunity to unravel some thoughts. At 19 I would still label myself as a baby, there is so much out there that I don’t know or won’t have even come across within coaching and for that I would like to think I’m a keen learner and extremely open minded which is why I think I am struggling to answer this question as I’m always chopping and change my thoughts and beliefs.

I believe being open minded is a trait needed within development, being willing to take on board new thoughts and ideas, listen to people whether they are providing information you are willing to take on board or even disregard, take pieces of information from different sources that you want to piece together as your own. Everybody is different and therefore, has different needs. What one coach might find valuable another may not which is why being keen to listen and learn is vital within the development process as a coach. So in terms of my development, when did I last change my mind as a coach? I could be here forever as my thoughts and beliefs are ever changing. The why is simple, I am a million miles away from becoming a so called ‘expert’ which outlines there is so much out there for me to learn and each time I learn something valuable to my coaching I will piece it together and adapt it to my own coaching which may involve changing my approach to coaching or why I do something.

When I first started out coaching and probably up until I began education at university I would of classed myself as a very one dimensional coach with little understanding of why I was doing what I was doing and just putting on session’s for the sake of it, sometimes attempting to wing it and being relieved it came off. So whats different now? As I have gained more qualifications and attended numerous coach education courses across a variety of sports I have developed the knowledge to begin to ask question’s, to myself and to my players. Before sessions, why am I doing this? what will the players get out of this? how will this effect them short/long term? is this beneficial for their development? never ending amount of questions. Questions to them during practice why did you do that? how did that feel and why? what do you think you could have done there? So what I am trying to say is that being a one dimensional coach in terms of always telling and there only being one way to do things I have now developed into a coach that ask’s questions to probe answers from the players, get them thinking about things and understanding why they are doing it and not just doing it because I said they have to.

So what does this tell me?

After beginning to reflect on sessions and understanding why I do things I have began to attempt to create more of a player centred environment, getting the players to think, make decisions and provide answers to solutions with very little input from myself within sessions. Maybe before when I used the coaching approach of telling players what to do I took away their identity and by coaching the group rather than individuals I created robots by doing so, I took away the opportunity for them to try things, make mistakes because what I wanted wasn’t what they were displaying to me. On reflection now would I go back to that approach? No, never again. I feel my coaching approach is now much more player centred I now coach people and understand each player has individual needs rather than coaching a group of players by telling them to do something. I now tend to use a lot more guided discovery, questioning, a game based approach to put players in situations where they have to be able to think, provide solutions, make decisions, socialise, this is where players stand out and create their own identity which I think I took away from them previously.

So the Why? – To provide a better opportunity for players to develop.
The how? – By changing my coaching approach to a more player centred approach.
And the when? – All the time. As I am always learning I am forever changing my thoughts and beliefs and will probably never stop doing so.

Listen, Learn and most of all enjoy doing so.

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3 thoughts on “Chop and Change

  1. Again a very thought provoking post. Its interesting that you use the term expert as a means to define good coaching and you go on to discuss that you are constantly developing by reflecting upon your practice, can you define what you mean by an expert ? In addition how do you differentiate between what is good practice that you think you could integrate and use for your own development and ” stuff” that is inappropriate. EG if you watched Jose Mourinho coach, would you automatically consider this to be good practice and why.

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    1. Hi Cliff, Thanks for the reply. In terms of expert coaching I would class them as a coach that is able to consistently improve athletes over a sustained period of time. After reflecting on the post ‘effective’ coaching would have been the correct phrase to use. When analysis other coaches I usually focus in on how engaged the participants are, is it clear they are having fun?, What does the practice look like? Can I identify players being given the freedom to try things? Within my practice I tend to stay away from blocked practices unless I am looking for the participants to develop a appropriate technique and tend to focus in on varied/random practices where players are put in challenging situations where they are forced to take ownership on their own decisions.

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      1. I agree that a better term such as ” effective ” might be less subjective than good. With regards to using different types of practice, I would generally agree that in game based activities blocked practice may have limited value, however could you see a situation that using blocked practice might be of real value.
        With regards to developing expertise, drop me an email and I’ll dig out some reading that you might find of value to develop your understanding of expertise.

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