When I set off along the coaching route I naïvely thought it would be easy as people would be learning to play an enjoyable sport and therefore be interested. What I actually encountered was a roller-coaster ride: there were no coaching manuals for the range or extent of challenges I faced so I learnt mainly on the job. The multitude of experiences helped serve my ambitions as a coach. I came to fully understand and appreciate the real process of coaching, of which communication is at the core.
Even in its simplest role there is much more to coaching than passing on knowledge and rules of a given sport. A typical coach is expected to take on many roles and the number of roles varies from one position to another. Outside the luxury of well-funded programmes a coach often has to be everything to all people: coach, leader, trainer, manager, organiser, promoter and developer, salesman, fund-raiser, liaison officer, public speaker and racket stringer.
As a consultant coach since 1990 I have fulfilled all these needs and often found myself leading a team of fellow-coaches. This led to coach education projects where I organised and ran courses for volunteers, leaders, teachers and coaches wishing to update their knowledge and skills.
I have interacted with many administrators and coaches (inside and outside squash) and discovered there is a global need for quality coaches. A diligent and thorough coach can become the most valuable asset to an athlete’s growth.
There are as many highs as lows when coaching. Despite the coach being a central figure dealing with demands from all directions, situations arise which create feelings of isolation. During such times it’s important to have someone you can trust and confide in.
My background allows me to reach out to fellow-coaches. An experienced professional who has travelled a similar journey can help provide a clear perspective on a problematic situation and guide you towards an appropriate solution while exploring and evaluating options. A knowledgeable and experienced coach can also warn against potential pitfalls.
Food for Thought
- How often do you reflect on your own performance?
- Are you well-organised?
- Are your group sessions well-structured without too much idle time?
- Are your players interested and motivated?
- Are your expectations too high?
- Are you risking the long-term interest of your athletes for short-term success?
- Are you having behavioural difficulties with certain individuals?
- Are any of your students struggling to progress?
- Has your advice become ineffective?
- Are you finding yourself repeating the same drills time and again?
- Do you neglect the neediest or better players?
- Is your coaching style appropriate and effective?
- Do you have clear and transparent guidelines for participants?
- Do you have clear and transparent selection criteria?
- Do you have a healthy rapport and professional relationship with those you work with?
- Do you have captains you can work with?
- Do you have problem parents?
- Do you communicate regularly and effectively?
- Are your values and philosophies being compromised?
- Do you keep abreast with changes in your sport and seek out new ideas, methods etc.?
If you can make a difference to the physical, mental and emotional well-being of a single person all the challenges you face as a coach seem worthwhile.
Like athletes, coaches have different sources of motivation. If you want to raise the status of qualified leaders/coaches in your sport while bringing out the best in your athletes, please feel free to contact me with an enquiry.
My coaching knowledge and skills can be readily adapted to other sports.
Sound coaching practice is the cornerstone of development.
Reflections of a Coach
- Coach education is a cornerstone of development
- Coaching is not about the coaches, it’s about the development of a sport and its participants
- There is more to coaching than just passing on knowledge and rules
- What you do off the field is often more important than what you do in practice
- The best coaches understand their players
- Not one style suits all
- Courses and knowledge provide a useful backdrop but there is nothing like learning ‘on the job’
- Learn, deliver and grow throughout the coaching process
- Bring out the best in your students