To be perfectly honest viewing my coaching sessions from an outside perspective is something that I don’t feel comfortable with purely because I hate looking at myself carrying a task out. However for this blog post I felt that looking back on a small session/drill that I carried out would be extremely beneficial to not only my learning but my development too. Through doing this I can discover strengths that I didn’t realise I had and also areas for improvement/bad habits that I have. Just before I get into the nitty gritty part of the reflection I have decided to break down the session into major strengths and weaknesses so that the improvements can clearly be seen for future sessions I take. The session can be seen below:
After watching the drill I noticed a variety of things that I believe to be key strengths of mine and some are new to me too. I started noting down strengths as I watched the video a few times and the first thing I realised was that I explained the drill clearly and in an easy to understand manner. I do understand that the drill was a very simple one but even with that as the drill progressed I had to explain the progressions and I do think that this was done clearly too enabling all the participants to understand. Nash, (2014) states “Set it up well (drill), clearly explain why we are doing it and what the benefits may be” therefore when I am coaching I need to ensure every time I take a session I must ensure that the benefits are discussed. When doing this I may not even need to give the benefits as I could ask the players what they think the benefits are going to be as it gets them thinking too. The session I took above was only a brief warmup therefore the benefits are straight forward (especially when coaching peers on my sports coaching course) however I still should have mentioned the benefits, even if only briefly.
An additional strength of mine was the small progressions that I added in the warm up. Sometimes warm ups lack progressions and therefore don’t really test the players much. Small games such as jailbreak, Robin Hood and traffic lights can all be progressed easily and consequently prepare the players for the session ahead. During my warm up I progressed traffic lights by adding two extra cones that became present mainly once the football was added. By adding a football the players had to think about the space they were in as well as keeping their head up to see what colour cone was being held up.
Questioning is a skill that is key when coaching as it helps to get the players thinking. Different questions can be used to get a range of answers. If a short answer was wanted then a closed question which gave a yes or no answer would be used. They can also be used to tie down a new insight into an action or a goal (Wilson, 2011). An example of a closed question would be ‘Is this the correct technique?’ as it is asking for a one word answer however if the coach went on to ask ‘Why?’ then it would become an open question because it encourages people (the players) to dig deeper and explore further (Wilson, 2011). During the brief session I ran I did use both open and closed questions. I used closed questions to ensure that everyone understood the drill however I then used open questions to discuss techniques that could be used.
Giving players the lead is not really something that I am used to however I now feel that it is beneficial from watching sessions as they feel like they have more of a responsibility which in turn can improve their motivation. For example in my session I asked a player to choose a turn and demo this so that all the players knew what turn to do. This allowed the players to also show their creative side which in my opinion should be done in a game too. Voight, (2014) states that “Giving players more control over decision making can truly empower them to commit and contribute more toward the collective effort on the field or court”. Consequently small things such as the choice of turn or the choice of drill could in fact lead to better performances/results due to the amount of effort being put in.
A final strength of mine from the brief session was that I used a competitive game to work on the skills that were tested in the warm up. This made the warm up a little bit more enjoyable too because they had to compete against their friends. This also tests the athletes to see if they can continue to use the skills in a competitive environment where they may be under pressure. Hopefully this has an impact when they go to use these skills in a game as they have already used them when they were under pressure.
The first weakness that I discovered upon watching the footage of the session I delivered was that the praise I gave was very similar. In all honesty I thought that I gave varied praise however on reflection this actually isn’t the case. This has led me to think that when I am coaching in the future I should actually praise individuals as well as the group as a whole too using a variety of different language. During the session I mainly said “That’s it” or “Good” but I need to comment more on technique. Even if the technique isn’t fully there questions can be used in order to improve it for the future. Huber (2012) mentions that it is easy to praise too often and it can become meaningless therefore in the future I am going to ensure that when I give praise it is only when necessary and when it would be beneficial too.
An additional weakness I identified was that sometimes maybe a laugh and a joke can be taken in the wrong way. During my brief warm up I did say to one of the performers “You can do better than that” however this was only because I knew the participants therefore I felt that I could do this with them. If it was with a younger group or a group that I did not know then I more than likely wouldn’t have done this as it could have been taken in the wrong way. I shouldn’t have said it as I now feel like I do this without noticing during other sessions consequently I will make sure that I do not do this as it could be taken in the wrong way.
Something else that I noticed was that I didn’t actually walk around the whole warm up as it was going on. Sometimes this may result in you (the coach) not seeing the whole picture therefore in future sessions I am going to ensure that I constantly move round so I can see each player individually to see how they are getting on. This will allow me to see if a player is finding the drill too easy or too hard meaning individual progressions/regressions can be made. The activity that I delivered in the above video only had four participants therefore was it really necessary to walk round the whole area? I don’t think so to be honest however I need to ensure that I do this when coaching lager groups otherwise I may miss crucial things.
A final weakness that I didn’t realise I had was the language I used while I coached. It was something that was new to me as I didn’t think I said it at all. However through the reflective video I noticed that I said “no” when a player demonstrated a turn. Instead of doing this I should have used constructive language in order to derive the correct information from the player. Again as I mentioned previously I could have used an open question to try and lead the player to the right answer. Saying “no” as I did, may demotivate players as they may feel like they have given the wrong answer. I have therefore made the decision that I am going to record another session which I deliver to see if I do it when coaching a younger age group. If this is the case then I will have to work on my feedback and ensure that it is put across in a constructive manner that will help the players learn too.
In conclusion I have discovered weaknesses that I didn’t think I had however on the other hand I have also discovered strength that are also new to me. I have noted down my weaknesses so that before any session I deliver I can look back at these and try my utmost to get these out of my coaching as they will help me significantly during my sessions!
Huber, J.J. (2012) Applying educational psychology in coaching athletes. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics Publishers.
Nash, C. (2014) Practical sports coaching. United States: Routledge.
Voight, M. (2014) The sports leadership Playbook: Principles and techniques for coaches and captains. United States: McFarland.
Wilson, C. (2011) Best practice in performance coaching: A handbook for leaders, coaches, HR professionals and organizations. Philadelphia: Kogan Page.