Coaching Matters: Around the Web March 2014

England Rugby Tunnel

Welcome to the March 2014 edition of Coaching Matters, the articles I have been reading in the month.

The message that has been coming across loud and clear this month is the importance of culture in the sporting environment. Systems, protocols, tactics, exercises & technologies employed by successful teams are many & varied. The commonalities are few & a strong team culture that is athlete centred & led has been cropping up again & again.

It is becoming commonplace in sporting environments for slogans & ethics to be put up on the walls or on T-Shirts & I recently heard two good stories of how these can be ineffective as well as effective.

In the first story a sports team was in a meeting to develop the values they wanted to live by in the upcoming season. One player suggested “Honesty” to which the facilitator asked him to stand up and tell the group which person he liked most in the team & why then which person he disliked the most & why. Unsurprisingly the player was unwilling to do this. How then could “Honesty” be one of their values? It would have been a word on the wall at the training ground that just became wallpaper with no purpose as even the proposer wasn’t prepared to act it out.

In the second story the team already had Honesty set as a value but the manager felt they were not true to it. At the team meeting to announce the squad for an upcoming game he simply told them they had to pick the team themselves. He left the room and returned after 10 minutes to find they had been unwilling to perform the task. He impressed upon them that as Honesty was one of their values they should be able to select a team amongst themselves with good reasons. After they were left a second time they were able to select the team & it was exactly as he would have picked it himself. From this they developed behaviours that supported players who had not been selected & enhanced the team culture in ways the coach had never contemplated.

In my latest blog, Notes From Pete McKnight: Strength & Conditioning for the French Alpine Ski Team, I noted how the physical preparation aspects were very similar to many other sports but the culture surrounding the team was vastly different & had some unique aspects. Mladen Jovanovic has delved into this in some depth in a great blog post that highlights the issues from a physical preparation perspective – “Sport Specific or Culture Specific?

As a side note there is a growing movement towards “Physical Preparation” as a more all encompassing title as opposed to “Strength & Conditioning” which only covers two aspects of a wide role yet reading Mladen’s post it is clear that this too is limited in its scope. Anyone who works with athletes has to be able to impact the psychological & sociological aspects too so maybe S&C coaches should become Athlete Preparation coaches in order to acknowledge this holistic view?

As usual I have linked to all the articles, videos & media below that I have found of interest in the past month so dive in & have a look around.

Don’t forget that if you have written or know of similar content that would be good for future posts then please let me know via or on Twitter @SiNainby.

Disclaimer – this is purely a list of the articles I have read in the month and their inclusion is in no way an endorsement. Remember, 88.6% of what you read on the internet is made up so Assume Nothing, Believe No-one, Check Everything………

Top 10

General Coaching

Skill Acquisition

Physical (Athlete?!) Preparation

Sport Science


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