Im still not quite sure how good you are…

So where to start? This was same question I asked myself when first starting this reflective coach module. 6 months later, many experiences later and so much learning later, but has anything actually changed?

Again this post has got me reflecting on my overall coaching journey that I have engaged in over the past 6 months. 6 months previous to this date and I can openly admit reflection wasn’t a process I used within my coaching, I turned up delivered a session, went home and had forgotten about it a few hours later. This process has been turned completely on its head, the reflection process based around WHY I do things the way I do has been extremely important to my delivery and future sessions and overall myself as a coach.

Okay, so I have roles and responsibilities but what actually makes me a good ‘coach’? Throughout the last 6 months I have been able to reflect critically to delve into how to continuously develop as a coach. But how have I been able to do this? Well, throughout the year attending lectures and putting things into practice has seen me develop an understanding around theories of coaching and how they can be applied. This process has helped me to shape values and beliefs around my own coaching philosophy and how these theories apply to my coaching. This process isn’t just to develop me but how can I maximise the learning of my players? How can I make them the best they can be? again these questions are all me reflecting on my application to coaching and what I can do to develop myself and my players.

But in what ways have I developed? Before beginning the second year of my degree study I can openly admit to being a one dimensional coach, just doing things to pass the session, not understanding coaching process’ and overall not understanding the WHY. The reflection process has now enabled me to create an environment where players are the best teachers, by this I mean players being creative, problem solving, taking responsibility to their own learning through a game based approach. Buzz words I know, but this process has been shown to show the greatest development process throughout my coaching journey.Providing players with the opportunity to explore situations and fail has also been a process I have engaged in, rather than this is how you do it I have began to use a questioning approach to challenge understanding and learning. Which has show to develop player independence.

So what do these sessions look like? Well, messy… but 100% 6 months ago I would have been afraid to create sessions like this, too afraid of opinions of others, too afraid of my own ability as a coach and too afraid to fail my players. But again going back to the WHY of doing things has create a changed environment for me and my players. The understanding of the process creates an opportunity for players to attempt things without being afraid of failure, without limiting their potential by being afraid to be creative. Which has helped to create a more enjoyable environment to be in. This goes without saying the players have to be on the same page, again understanding the WHY they may do things, how they may do things through trial and error. This process has pushed players to become more independent with myself becoming more of a modern coach/mentor rather than an old school instructor.

“You just don’t know how good you are” a quote taken from the film die hard reflects well on the process I have undertaken over the last 6 months of this module. The development as a coach is not a overnight process, it is a long, stressful yet rewarding process which through deep and regular reflection has helped to contribute to this process. Understanding the WHY is a key message I have taken from this module, understanding my strengths, weaknesses and areas of development has been key to reflection to which this module has enabled me to store new areas of knowledge to create a deeper understanding of how different process link to my coaching.

Overall this reflective module has been an extremely beneficial process that has opened my eyes to being more open minded as a coach. It has led me to achieving greater understanding based around my own coaching, now the reflection has begun, it will never end!.

Overcoming the impressions

After working within a grassroots team up to u16’s, I now felt it was the right time to make the step up having been offered with the opportunity to share responsibilities at an u18’s youth team. Generally when turning up to training sessions I get the buzz of being there and delivering however, when turning up to my first session here I felt nervous, anxious and honestly a little bit scared. Why did I feel like that?

Well throughout my coaching career I have found myself working with lads from 12+ and most recently working with an under15’s and under16’s team, being only a young coach myself I am sometimes conscious of whether the players have the same respect for me compared to an older coach due to their only being a small age gap between coach and player. So when turning up to my first u18’s session being only 19 years old I felt nervous of whether I would get the same response in terms of listening, effort, motivation and actually taking part in the session.

When coaching I have huge confidence in my ability and being able to develop players regardless the age of the player however, my first session tested me – I felt I had to deliver a session in order to express my knowledge to the players, show them I actually knew what I was talking about and therefore, delivered a session I would never usually deliver, I found myself turning into an instructor rather than having the usual confidence in my ability and the sessions I would deliver to which I have no doubt, would have got a better response than the response from the session I actually delivered.

As I highlighted earlier I have taken over the role with another coach, this coach is currently the U16’s manager and has worked with the youth team before in which he has worked with the same group of players for the past 9 years, within the youth team squad we have a number of u16’s players that are involved in the youth team.

So, did this effect the impact of the players work rate and motivation when I delivered sessions?

In the first few weeks after taking over rather than the players trying to make an impression on myself in order to get a place in the starting 11, I felt it was me that was having to make an impression on them, this was difficult. During sessions their was no intensity, no motivation to work hard, a lack of effort and overall a difficult place to be. After having a conversation with another coach around this issue, they felt they had the same issue. We both addressed the fact that the coach knew and had worked with the players for years has the respect of each player and had a good coach/player relationship and due to him not being in attendance they chose to ‘test’ my ability as a coach.

As a coach I had never had this issue before and working with effectively grown up’s, this situation was extremely challenging. During one activity a well-advanced player questioned my progressions, I had to think quick, be creative, be adaptive – this could make or break building any relationship and respect from the players. My reply changed everything; the player was given the opportunity to create his own progression to challenge the group. The progression he created was openly better than my own and he and the other players loved it. They loved the fact I had given them responsibility, ownership and that was a risk I had to take. It was a start, as well as portraying I had a depth of knowledge and proved I could help to develop individuals and the team helped to gain the respect.

Creating an environment where players were given ownership and responsibility helped me to gain the respect and build a coach/player relationship with the players. Let’s be honest, the players could have turned around and questioned my coaching ability – I couldn’t come up with a good enough progression to challenge the players? Did they think I was being lazy by asking them to? How can I create a better progression than him? These are all questions the players could have quite easily asked themselves and the others. But it didn’t and that’s the risk I had to take.

In recent weeks and up to now sessions are now delivered providing players with create ownership on decisions, progressions, and ways to improve. This has helped to eliminate the lack of motivation, effort, intensity and instead turned it on its head. I now used scenario based practices to create intensity, this has been a major reflection point within my coaching – understanding how I managed to create the intensity and motivation within the session and did the players thrive off the scenarios.

For example, I recently used a scenario during a high pressing practice where players had to be able to press and win the ball back high up the pitch, I proposed a scenario to the high pressing team where they were 2-0 down in the Champions league final with 7 minutes remaining. U18’s, stupid right? Completely the opposite, the players thrived off it; I had never seen the intensity higher, it improved the quality – they now wanted to work hard for the team and myself. Ensuring when it is right to use scenarios within a session is key and is something I am ever learning.

I am forever learning and developing my relationship with the players, having taken over 3/4 into the season was a great opportunity/challenge to test myself as a coach. Bring on next season!

So – Key Messages?

– Believe in your ability!
-Don’t be afraid to take risks!
-Be open to learning new ways to coach!
-Enjoy the challenge!!

Don’t be afraid to know

Impression management within my coaching is something that has really got me thinking recently. As I coach various age groups starting from four up to eighteen years old being able to make the right impression on them and their parents is something that has got me thinking and how can I ensure that I am able to adapt dependent on the age group I am working with.

When starting my coaching journey making the right impression was extremely important and something I got nervous about regularly. In fact, I can openly admit that making the right impression on the parents was more important that the kids at first. This led to the session that I delivered being boring, full of blocked practice, a lot of the time unopposed (limiting the kids opportunities to make decisions) and in fairness my coaching behaviour would be extremely instructive and commentating all the time during the session (delivering praise). Cushion, Ford, & Williams, 2012a state that a deliberate behavioural strategy or ‘what coaches do’ contains a mix of instruction and positive verbalizations which relates to the exact behaviours when I first began coaching.

As I developed as a coach through on field experiences and learning academically, I began to gain an understanding of ways to approach sessions in order to improve the learning experience of players. This lead to me focusing on delivering regular opposed sessions (attempt to improve decision making), kids providing me with new ideas such as progressions to activities, providing them with ‘playing’ opportunities or free play within the session. The way I began to approach and deliver sessions all came through reflection of previous experiences, It enabled me to begin to form an understanding of the Why?. I began to create a reasoning behind why I was doing what I was doing, rather than delivering sessions to make a good impression on the parents.

During a recent session I overhead two parents in conversation where the topic of conversation was my coaching and questioning what I was doing. During this period the kids were sat around a tactics board discussing solving problems I had posed to them based around creating space within a game situation, to which I had given the kids 5 minutes to come up with ideas to improve how they can create space as an individual and how that will help the team. I must admit the conversation made me extremely conscious and nervous, at the end of the session I was proposed a question by the parent in discussion ‘Why were the kids sat around wasting playing time answering questions when you could have told them the answer?’. Although I was nervous about being questioned on my delivery by a parent, the reasoning behind the why? provided the parent with a clear understanding about how this activity will help the performance of their child when being put back into a playing environment.

Providing a parent with a clear explanation of the Why? and providing them with an understanding of how this benefits the children in the long run went a long way to gaining the respect of the parent. This therefore, provided me with two important areas to develop  my coaching to ensure the right impression is made;

– Ensure you know WHY you are doing, what you’re doing.
If you understand why and how this will benefit you’re players then chances are you are doing things right. Never be afraid of what others think, if questioned you have the answer.

– A thing I am going to begin to employ into my own coaching is at the start of a new season sit down with parents and players individually to discuss my philosophy and ways of coaching to help improve each individual. This will help to ensure that coaches, players and parents are all working off the same page.

Are the pro’s are taking over

What are the chances of non ex pro’s actually working at the top level?  Very slim I imagine. I recently read an article article where Chris Earle, the new head of FA education discussed Steven Gerrard being put through his UEFA A Licence without having to complete his Level 1,2 or UEFA B Licence as these courses are very ‘time consuming’ (minimum 120 hours). Fortunate for Steven the FA decided to look at what skills he already possesses as a coach and have been able to offer him a ‘personalised individual route’ to the top. Earle then goes on to claim well if he knows about the player and knows about the game then thats good enough, “its not fast tracking its personalised learning”. I can only wish I was offered a personalised learning opportunity.

Cooke (2007) states that while there may be some advantages (gaining respect of athletes) elite level success as an athlete is no guarantee of being a quality coach. As a coach looking to progress up to the elite level after reading the article I really started to question is it really worth it? I’m spending £27,000 at university, paying for coaching qualifications to better myself as a coach and just because these athlete’s have played the game they are being handed coaching roles on a plate. I would say as a coach I know my players and know the game so why am I not being offered the opportunity to have a personalised individual route rather than having to complete each qualification funded by myself or kindly by the club I work for all the way to the top, which even then won’t guarantee myself a job.

At the beginning of the 2013/2014 season in England and Wales, 90 head coaches of the 92 men’s national professional football league clubs and 20 of the 22 men’s professional rugby union clubs had tenure as a professional elite player in their respective sports (Mielke, 2007). Therefore, highlights the importance of fast tracking opportunities for former elite athletes who dominate head coaching roles in professional sports clubs. Rynne (2014) defined ‘fast-tracking as the special concessions offered to former elite athletes so that their progress through formal accreditation structures is expedited. Fast tracking are usually based upon the assumption that the skills and knowledge acquired as a professional elite athlete, via practically embodied and informal learning contexts, are essential for the successful fulfilment of the elite head coach role (Kelly, 2008). This is something that I find difficult to understand, it seems to me that NGB’s have an expectancy from ex professional’s that there playing experience will make them better equipped to succeed as a coach than a grassroots’ coach or student looking to fulfil a career in the elite game.

Relating back to the article a common complaint amongst former players is that FA Qualifications are too academic and that sitting in the classroom for tens of hours being taught about the game they have spent up to 20 years playing is boring for them. Surely they need more of an academic understanding based around coaching rather than relaying on their experiences as a professional, I imagine a high percentage of ex professionals left school at 16 and therefore, will have limited exposure to academic studies and understanding of what coaching really is. Earle then goes on to outline ‘my job is to prepare a breed of coaches at the top level who can stand up against any other foreign coaches’, I really wonder what we would be like as a country if every coach was offered the opportunity to a personalised learning journey and not just the ex professionals who it seems already possess the majority of coaching tools in their box.

As a young coach it is pretty demotivating when I am investing hundreds of hours and money into my learning when ex professional are being provided with opportunities at the top just because they have played the game. I wonder why 18 year olds who have just finished school don’t get fast tracked to being teachers just because they’ve been in school for 13 years.

References:

Cooke, G. (2007) Many paths to coaching, Sports Coach, 29(4), 24􏰀25.

Kelly, S. (2008). Understanding the role of the football manager in Britain and Ireland: A Weberian approach. European. Sport Management Quarterly, 8, 399–419. doi:10.1080/16184740802461652

Mielke, D. (2007). Coaching experience, playing experience and coaching tenure. International Journal of Sports Science & Coaching, 2, 105–108.

Rynne, S. (2014). ‘Fast track’ and ‘traditional path’ coaches: Affordances, agency and social capital. Sport, Education andSociety, 19, 299–313.

 

 

 

Chop and Change

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.

Blocked/Varied/Random

Coming into contact with children aged 3-18 on a daily basis really does challenge when to use these three types of practices. Personally I believe there is a place for all three of these types of practices and each practice enables you as a coach to challenge and aim to develop children, each practice has its time and place but finding when that is, is the most difficult part as a coach.

Firstly, I will start with blocked practice, When I first started coaching I used blocked practices on a number of occasions however, as I have developed more as a coach gaining more experience I generally decided to stay away from this type of practice no matter the age I am working with. Yet both blocked and random practice can be effective in developed skills with blocked practice usually providing quicker improvement in results compared to random practice (L,Rad. F,Babolhavaeji, E,Babolhavaeji,2012).The reason for me choosing random over blocked is simple, even though blocked practice is a good place to start when introducing a new skill or technique I believe varied practices are more beneficial for a players learning. Yes standing in a line passing a ball back and forth with the inside of your foot will no doubt developed your technique to pass with the inside of your foot but what are the chances of you being passed the ball the same way each time, very slim. Which is the reason why I generally decide to sway towards varied practice where players are made to think for themselves and problem solve, for example if the ball isn’t quite right to return a pass with the inside of the foot how can they adapt to find a different solution to get the ball back without claiming they are unable to pass with the inside of their foot because the feed wasn’t quite right.

Don’t get me wrong I am not saying blocked practice doesn’t have its place because it does. Blocked practice is a good type of practice to use when working with beginners that may have never played the sport before, this gives you as a coach to see the ability you are working with and gives the player a chance to become comfortable within the environment and get a feel for the sport which hopefully helps to build the players confidence and interest to continue playing the sport. Another place where blocked practice could be used is when regressing a session, say you move into a varied practice where players are forced to think when in situations they may not be used to and are struggling to find solutions to problems then blocked practice is a good place to go back to, to refine the skills they have done previously and provide them with the confidence that they are able to do it when taking part in a varied practice.

As a coach I predominantly deliver sessions using varied and random practice, the reason for this is these practices are more game specific compared to blocked practice, varied and random practice takes players out of there comfort zone and introduces them to new challenges where they may have to make different decisions depending on the situation. I understand that sometimes players may be uncomfortable or may not be able to perform at first during these practices but children are not stupid, each individual has a brain for themselves and therefore, after time will be able to provide solutions to problems and enhance their development sometimes without the coaches input.

During a game coaches are not there to make decisions for the children, they make them decisions for themselves, providing players with random practices will enable each individual to develop cognitive abilities (Hawkins, Kramer, & Capaldi, 1992). During blocked practice the coaches has already made the decisions for the player ‘this is how you will pass the ball’ rather than ‘this is what you could do in this situation’. As I discussed earlier there is no chance of you being passed the same ball 10 times out of 10 so what happens when the 9 out of the 10 balls you are passed come to you differently, how would a child react then?. Whereas, if a child is put into a varied and random practice then they are forced to make decisions for themselves and try different things in order to get a positive outcome.
Again I am not saying there isn’t a place for blocked practice because I believe there is. I am simply attempting to identify the best way to develop children and for me that comes with using varied and random practices.

References:

L,Rad. F,Babolhavaeji, E,Babolhavaeji (2012) A comparison of blocked and random practice on acquisition of swimming skills. Euro. J. Exp. Bio., 2012, 2 (6):2073-2076

Hawkins, Kramer, & Capaldi, (1992) Age related-effects of blocked and random practice schedules on learning a new technology.

Out with the old, In with the new

So it’s time for a well overdue blog post, after an extremely busy festive period and the joy’s of christmas and new year it’s time to get back to business.

2015 was an amazing year for myself and during christmas I managed to find time to sit back and reflect on my coaching journey throughout the year, replaying my coaching adventure and analysing goals I set myself and whether they were achieved.

During 2015 I was fortunate enough to have some amazing opportunities and come into contact with some fantastic coaches who have had a real impact on my development as a coach, I gained my first full time u16’s coaching role with a grassroots club, spent two 1/2 months in the heart of America coaching, seeing sights I never thought I would see, coming into contact with two professional footballers and supporting them with my coaching within there academy, expanding my knowledge by undertaking Futsal and Goalkeeping courses and most recently gaining myself a job at Fleetwood FC as a full time coach. All which were extremely exciting opportunities which I believe were created by myself through hard work and dedication to coaching which have only supported me in my development as a coach.

2015 was a year that helped me to understand myself as a coach, where I am currently and where I want to be in 6 months, 1 year, 3 years and even 5 years. My coaching has developed from turning up and putting on a session to fill the hour to something that I put my all into, the enjoyment, challenge, emotions and learning that goes on during my coaching journey now highlights how much of a privilege coaching is to me. Over the last year I have taken every opportunity given to me in order to develop myself. My session focus has changed from ‘filling the hour’ to focusing on my players, how can I make the best difference to them in the time I have? What do they need? What does he need compared to what she needs? Will they find that fun? What will challenge them?. I could go on forever with questions I ask myself before sessions in order to ensure the players get the most out of the sessions, they are the reason I love coaching.

After a highly successful 2015 I have decided to raise the bar and set myself new goals for the new year and hopefully exceed what was achieved in 2015, this year I have chosen to follow the EPP model.

Step1: Process
Step2: Performance goal
Step3: End goal

So, my 2016 goals:

1. Continue to develop my learning my attending more CPD events. Being open to attending events from different sports and see how other coaches work within them sports.

2. Work hard and make time to get out and watch elite coaches and pick their brains on how they work. Pick ideas from them and implement them into the way I work by developing their ideas into my own.

3. Completing a reflection on each coaching session. Jotting down what I thought went well with the session and why, what could be improved, why. Gain feedback from players and their opinions on the session which will help me to create different ideas on how to meet the players need more often.

4. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to attend the national coaching conference at St Georges Park during December so a big goal of mine is to attend in December 2016. A great experience for myself to develop my coaching knowledge and meet other coaches in the same position as myself.

5. Finally, continue to enjoy my coaching. Not being one dimensional – being open to change and different ideas, embrace learning and continue to work hard.

Climbing is not about getting to the top, it’s about enjoying the journey and making it more interesting.

Time to test myself and my players, bring on 2016.

Reference list:

Brause. J (2016). Effective goal setting in coaching. [Available at]www.janbrause.co.uk/user/custom/downloads/GoalSettinginCoaching.pdf [Accessed 8th January 2016]

How the United States helped me

In October 2014 I stood outside Uclan area as a inexperienced, shy coach with no confidence and little academic coaching knowledge awaiting for feedback on what I would describe now as a shocking session and waiting to hear whether I had passed my assessment and would be travelling to America to have the experience of a life time coaching for the summer of 2015…

Somehow I PASSED!! and received the information I would be travelling to Texas for 2 1/2 months to coach children aged 2-16 with a variety of playing abilities, scary right? Before going I didn’t know how I was going to cope, I didn’t think I was a good enough coach to take a group of 20 children aged between 2-6 for an hour never mind a for 73 days straight, little did I know this trip would change me as a coach forever.

Sitting here now reflecting on where I am as a coach now compared to where I was in October 2014, I wouldn’t believe I am the same person or coach. The trip itself was an unbelievable experience, living with a different family each week, spending time visiting places (not that there was much free time), meeting new coaches, tapping into their knowledge and ways of doing things and gathering thoughts on why they do what they do and also giving coaches thoughts and ideas on what I do and why and providing other coaches with the little knowledge I had.

I turned up on Day 1 like a little boy, I didn’t haven’t a clue what to expect, I had been going through my coaching book writing session after session expecting something to go wrong, thinking how do I deal with the kids if they aren’t interested? what will the parents think, a british coach coming over here to teach the game and they don’t know what they’re doing… Wouldn’t be a good first impression would it. Thinking about it now I don’t know what I was scared of, I absolutely loved it. “The pleasure of being able to help the performance of others, irrespective of who I coach, internationals to children, I ensure people get enjoyment out of it” – Thats one statement I followed throughout my time in America, as long as the children are having fun and learning while doing so then thats good enough for me.

Starting on Day 1 and leaving on Day 74 saw me develop enormously as a coach, I remember boarding the plane home with Amersterdam being the first stop and thinking “Wow, I can actually do it” for the first time I started to believe in myself, I gained a form of confidence I never knew I had, I developed a determination, a strive to succeed, to learn, to develop. All from that one small thought it gave me the wake up call that I can do it. Coaching everyday during my time in such an amazing country helped this, learning different cultures, different ways of playing, watching American coaches – some good, some not so good, picking up ideas of things I can use in my sessions, having detailed discussions with parents about their child’s development, gaining feedback from parents, coaches, club organisers on my performance as a coach was an extremely valuable part for me, it helped me to reflect on how I did things on Day 1 to how I did things on Day 73, was there a difference? if so, what was the difference? how have I changed as a coach? what have I changed? there are a trail of questions I ask myself in terms of my development as a coach, I am always looking to improve and without the reflection process you are limiting your own development as a coach.

Throughout the last month of my time coaching in America I was confident enough and fortunate enough to be picked to coach on a Saturday (some would say not so fortunate, as my friends were floating down a river drinking beer all day) at a advanced development centre. These sessions were extremely challenging for me coaching advanced players as throughout my time so far I had been coaching at beginners and early stages of development with the odd advanced player. However, I took to the sessions like duck to water it confirmed to me that I wanted to be in the advanced/elite player environment as a career and as I move forward as a coach. I arrived at each session 45 minutes before start time to set up, my sessions plans had been thought out thoroughly the night before, through the feedback I received I challenged players well on a regular basis, allowing them freedom of play and giving them the chance to put their skills into practice.

My experience overall was a life changing one, It made me think how much I want to succeed in the game I love and gave me the kick to come back to England and work as hard as possible to improve and learn everyday. So thank you America for the life changing opportunity.