Learning from unexpected places...
We’ve all heard about ’8 Week Fitness Challenges’ run out of almost every commercial fitness centre, well, this is a ’8 Week Coaching Challenge’ designed to help improve your coaching.
At the end of each week we will post a Coaching Challenge for you to integrate into your coaching for the following week.
Before reading further have a quick think where, on the following continuums, the sport you coach falls onto:
- Individual v Team
- Skill-dominant (e.g. golf) v Physically-dominant (e.g. rowing)
- Early(er) specialisation (e.g. gymnastics) v Late(r) specialisation (e.g. triathlon)
- Land-based v Water based (v Air based?)
- Non-contact (e.g. swimming) v Contact (e.g. basketball) v Collision (e.g. rugby)
- Cyclical (e.g. marathon running) v Acyclical (e.g. rugby)
Now list sports that is lie on the ‘opposite’ ends of some of the above continuums to your sport.
As David Hodge wrote in "Why S&C Coaches should get more Credit" Strength & Conditioning coaches are often the busy bees of the sports coaching world, pollinating ideas stolen from one sport and applying them to another sport.
From my own experience, each sport I have worked with had a unique philosophy, tradition, techniques, or culture that I have been able to apply to another sport.
Unfortunately, there are many coaches who are only interested in learning from their own particular sport, and miss out on some valuable knowledge.
Their inability to see beyond the differences of the sports blinds them to potential gold mines of information.
Instead of thinking 'that won't work in my sport' they should be thinking 'how, when & where can I use that?'
Coach Challenge: Spend time with a Coach from a Totally Different Sport
Based on the sport you thought was the ‘opposite’ of your sport, spend time observing, questioning and learning from that sport.
(For some ideas on where and what you can learn click here.)
Step 1: Contact the coach. No doubt they’ll be open to the experience.
Step 2: Find out all you can about the upcoming session(s). What time of the season is it? What are the season goals? What are the session goals? How will the coach determine if the session is a success?
Step 3: Observe and take notes.
Some things to look for:
- What is the culture like?
- How does the coach give feedback?
- What is the structure of the session? Work intervals? Rest intervals?
- What techniques does the coach use to facilitate learning?
- If they work with younger athletes, what ‘Difficult Parent Strategies’ does the coach have?
- How do they improve their physicality? And mentality?
- How is the coach fostering independence?
- What elements are coach-driven?
- What elements are athlete-driven?
- How did they group their athletes?
- What do the injured athletes do?
Step 4: Reflect with the coach.
Organise to have a debrief with the coach.
Without judgment, try to understand the underlying philosophies. Find out what the coach thought about the session and what would they could improve.
Step 5: Reflect on your own program.
- What can you eliminate from your program?
- What can you improve in your program?
- What can you add to your program?
Don’t forget to also reflect on what you do well too.
There is a second component to this challenge.
Chances are you're either going to be thrilled with the learning and want to generate some change OR you're going to think it was a waste of time and never do it again.
Either way, hold your judgements for a couple of weeks.
Let the ideas stew. Play with them in your head. Pose questions to yourself. You might surprise yourself.
Below are some sporting groups/coaches you might learn from:
- Coaches of a hearing- or sight- impaired squad for clues on how to communicate better
- Intro-to-gymnastics classes for group control, teaching independence & setting up routines
- Track athletes for those who know their bodies well
- Rugby League forwards, who don't care how their bodies feel
- PE teachers who find the challenge point for all 25 kids of random enthusiasm.
If you felt the Coaching Challenge helped, or stimulated you in some way, please feel free to share this page or leave a comment below – we’d love to hear about your experience.
For more Coaching Challenges click here.
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