Coaching Matters: Around the web November 2013

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Welcome to the lastest edition of Coaching Matters, the articles I have been reading through November 2013.

The contentious issue this month seems to be fast tracking. It is common in sport for athletes to retire at the end of a season and be coaching at the elite level the very next season. There have been various articles recently where retired footballers have been bemoaning the fact that although they have played football for 20+ years they are expected to have to complete coaching qualifications in order to work as a professional coach – (for a typical example see this interview with Michael Gray). It is not only football as UK Sport have just announced a one year fast track to take retired world class athletes and transform them into world class coaches – (see here).

While I am sure the athletes have gained a great deal of experience it does not automatically crossover to coaching and I seriously doubt whether you can fast track someone through the vast amount of science and art required to succeed as a coach at the elite level of sport. Elite World level sport is not the place to be making mistakes and learning on the job!

When I first started out coaching I was fortunate to be able to shadow an elite Strength & Conditioning Coach. When I asked about working with him on a permanent basis he gave me the best piece of advice I ever received. He told me that if I wanted to succeed I had to go and work with the lowest level club I could find and work my way up the ladder. While it was not what I wanted to hear at the time looking back it has given me invaluable experience as I went from a level 9 local rugby club to level 3 National League rugby. I have earnt each progression up the ladder and learnt my own lessons rather than copying from another experienced coach.

*UPDATE – I have just seen some excellent points raised by Jonny Wilkinson in this article that shows he is one of a very rare breed in his understanding of the requirements of coaching.

Coaching isn’t about playing rugby, it isn’t about taking what you did when you were playing rugby and showing other people how to do it, coaching is about support, man-management, it’s about language, it’s about all kinds of things – structuring sessions through to understanding acquisition of skills, mental fatigue, it’s about understanding personalities, everything. I think that is going to take time.

I’ll leave the final word to John Stozkowski:

Special mention this month is for some great content on iTunesU which is where Universities distribute free content. Bond University have a series of Sports Lectures delivered by Elite Coaches in Australian Sport. The lectures are very applied and have some great information in them – click here to see them. Go to Twitter and follow Dr Chris McLellan and Damian Marsh who are two of the lecturers.

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 simon@undergroundathletics.co.uk or on Twitter @SiNainby.

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