Linked below is a piece of work completed for my MSc in Performance Coaching. It is focused on "The formation, development and application of Coaching Philosophies". Feel free to contact me to discuss further, provide feedback or chat about how it does/doesn't match with your experiences.
“Ruckgate”, Italy’s non-breakdown tactic in the match against England yesterday, was more than just exploiting the Chiefs tactical innovation. It was Conor O’Shea’s chance to build and shape a new mentality for Italy rugby. Two weeks ago, they shipped over sixty points against a rampant Ireland side, in Italy. The fortnight that followed criticised Italy’s lack of competitiveness and led to calls for Georgia to replace them in the 6 Nations. Meanwhile, O’Shea and Venter worked quietly to build up their players.
It can’t be easy to lift players from such a convincing home loss and there are many tactics coaches can use. But Italy fully embracing the ‘no-ruck’ defensive strategy, to an extent never seen before, was the perfect way to do it. The life of a professional rugby player can sometimes be mundane, albeit focused and competitive. Preparing for the England game would have been FUN. Almost like the Italy squad was on a secret mission that nobody else knew about. They would come to Twickenham and ambush England with tactical innovation rather than just ‘line speed’ or ‘passion’ alone. The critics will say that, ultimately, it didn’t do any good – Italy still conceded six tries. But from an Italy perspective, it will have been crucial. For the first half they confused and humiliated one of the best sides in world rugby, whilst remaining very competitive until the hour mark. Two weeks on from the Ireland game, they are able to pick out positives and build their confidence back up.
The outrage at the tactic has become the perfect tool for the Italy coaching staff to have a real impact upon the mentality of the Italy squad. O’Shea and Venter came out fighting in the press with strong, positive statements that will be as much for their own players as for the eyes of the rugby world. On twitter, Venter highlights conditioning as the key thing that prevented Italy from winning the game. Make no mistake, this is for his players to read, not least because this is something that is within their control. He went on to highlight that Italy tried to play positive rugby, kicking for the corners. This, again, provides a basis for the identity they want to form. Lastly, he says he is insulted that people have accused them of just trying to keep the score down. They have the means now to build a siege mentality that can be so effective when trying to motivate and elevate players beyond their average. O’Shea has been equally strong in his statements to the media, at least twice finishing the interview “it will take time, but we will get there”. A strong, positive statement focusing minds on the long-term project. O'Shea even hinted in one interview that he expected the backlash - in my view, it was an opportunity to get into his player's heads that he just couldn't miss. The message to the Italy players and public is clear - they will find ways to be innovative, they will be fun, they will be competitive and most of all, they will be relevant.
A return to Coaching Conversations, this one with Akin Lord who joined Basingstoke Town as an Academy coach in July 2016. Akin is a UEFA B Licensed coach and BSc (Hons) Sports Coaching graduate, completing his undergraduate degree at Leeds Metropolitan University. Akin is currently studying a part-time masters in Athletic Development and Peak Performance at Southampton Solent University. At 24, Akin is an ambitious young coach and has spent the past 3 years working within the highly regarded Coerver Coaching programme. Akin also enjoyed spells working at Chesterfield FC, Farnborough FC and The FA Skills. Akin enjoyed relative success in his playing career, playing for a number of professional and semi-professional football clubs including: Kidderminster Harriers FC, AFC Wimbledon, Staines Town FC, Kingstonians FC, Fulham FC, Wimbledon FC. He also played and coached at Leeds Metropolitan University, where the football programme is ranked 2nd in the British Universities and College Sports standings.
When you transitioned from playing to coaching what was the biggest adjustment you had to make?
Identifying that the standard of players I am coaching are not the same standard of players I played with. I.e. Certain drills/session ideas I participated in as a player were not appropriate for the players I was coaching. I recognised that I come from a playing performance background where the result meant something. The players I initially coached were playing for fun and participation alongside still learning the game
How would you describe your coaching?
Holistic - a multidisciplinary approach
What experiences have most contributed to you coaching the way that you do?
Informal - Experiences and reflection, imitation and apprenticeship
Formal - Time bound, facilitated, assessed, institutional
Non - Formal - CPD, Workshops, seminars, clinics, conversations, observation
What areas of your coaching would you prioritise to continue working on and improving in the coming years?
Communication - Had a stutter since childhood
Observation - Would like to continually observe other coaches/leaders from other sports, business etc.
Develop a greater tactical understanding of the game and how to develop situational practices rather than drills to help improve player performance on match day.
How did you find your BSc (Hons) Sports Coaching and are there any elements that still impact your day-to-day coaching life?
Who - ‘Who’ am I coaching? Understanding of learner (Needs and Wants)
What - ‘ What’ am I coaching? Understanding of curriculum (Skill and knowledge of the role)
How - ‘How’ am I coaching? Understanding of learning environment (Activity structure and coaching behaviour)
What are your thoughts on the formal coach ed available to coaches within football (FA, UEFA license etc)?
The current FA formal coach education format has been recently reviewed and I believe they have improved for the better. The removal of final assessment and instead the coach educators support coaches within their own environment.
My UEFA B experience highlights that. I saw some very good coaches fail on the day of assessment because they didn’t meet the criteria of the coach educator (Even though the participants were us coaches and we had to participate in 27 other 45 minute assessments). Some coaches choked on assessment day and failed, where I have seen them before on summative assessments and perform extremely well. I missed the assessment due to have a knee operation two weeks before the assessment day however when I recovered from my operation, I received support in my own environment and developed as a coach by getting support how to develop my players at my own club.
Also some coaches on the course coached U14’s,15’s etc and they were expected to coach men, where some may have had no experience in doing so. Whilst completing my UEFA B License, my coach educator videoed my session and watching myself back on DVD was a powerful education tool.
You work within a football Academy and the amount of players who make it to football's professional ranks is notoriously small - how does that impact on your coaching and treatment of players, if at all?
My coaching environment is slightly different as my club is semi-professional, so the players already have a slight realization they’re not going to turn professional.
The first aim for the majority of my players is getting a first team contract (The 1st team are full time). This impacts my coaching and treatment of the players with regular reminders of their behaviours and actions - I.e. Would they do the same thing if they were with the first team?
In 2015 I did a Coaching Conversation with Miguel Rios who commented that "too often football academies are run on fear - the fear of being released". Have you found this to be accurate in your experience and, if so, does it inhibit the learning and development of some players?
My previous experience within a professional academy there was more a “fear” from the parents than the players. This inhibited the learning and development of the players as their focus was elsewhere. Education to the parents is important so this “fear” doesn’t relay to the players and effect training/match day performance
Are there certain elements (coaching or club/environment) that you think are crucial in developing young players?
I know some people who have worked within professional football and have heard that as a sport it can be quite resistant to change or new ideas at times - is this something you have found to be true?
Yes, the old notion of “we’ve always done it this way” and coaches/players aren't always receptive to new methods/ideas. However, they need educating as always doing a certain task one way will only produce a certain type of result. Allowing/adapting to a change will allow the scope for different successes/failures.
Football is open to new ideas regarding sports science/performance analysis etc as this field is still growing and developing. However, training methods/periodisation, coaches and players are still resistant to change.
Gallimore, R., Gilbert, W. and Nater, S. (2014). ‘Reflective Practice and Ongoing Learning: A Coach’s 10 - Year Journey’, Reflective Practice: International and Multidisciplinary Perspectives, 15(2), pp268-288.
- Reflection mediates between experience and learning (Dewey, 1933). Ponder, review and question experiences so as to adapt and change future behaviour.
- John Wooden put a heavy focus on reflective practice. Coach Bias deliberately sought to change and improve coaching by analysing videos 7 years apart. It showed increased efficiency of coaching behaviour (less talk). Also, more effective teaching as pre-instruction decreased, concurrent instruction increased and post-instruction decreased = more organised and more immediate skill feedback.
- Ermeling (2012) 4 key features of reflective practice in teaching contexts:
1. Identify and define important and recursive instructional problems specific to local context
2. Prepare and implement detailed instructional plans
3. Utilize evidence to drive reflection, analysis and next steps
4. Persistently work towards detectable improvement.
- Teach rather than react.
- Coach Bias' improvements:
1. Fixed length practice, start by explaining objective.
2. Write a plan and stick to it. Plan better and implement changes next day.
3. Transition between drills - no wasted time
4. Transition between drills - equipment ready to go
5. Drills 8min max.
- Coach Bias' changes to his instructional talk:
1. Decrease number of coaching statements, less interruption.
2. Keep corrections to 10 seconds max
3. Be specific in teaching behaviour.
- Implement conditioning into elements of game
- Practice as we play applies to instructional language too - same type of message and tone.
- Measure self by quality of teaching, not results.
Gallimore and Tharp, (2004). 'What a coach can teach a teacher, 1975-2004: Reflections and Reanalysis of John Wooden's teaching practices', The Sport Psychologist, 18, 119-137.
- Wooden's teaching points "short, punctuated, numerous"
- Practice was highly organised, constant activity and high intensity.
- Planning essential to be efficient and concise.
- Praise better when specific and information, and most effect if focus on effort and mastery (Stipek, 1993).
- 4 laws of learning: Exploration, Demonstration, Imitation, Repetition.
- Master fundamentals to allow creativity.
Hodge, K., Henry, G. & Smith, W. (2014). 'A case study of excellence in elite sport: Motivational climate in a world champion team', The Sport Psychologist, 28(1), 60-74.
- In sport, Coach typically regarded as most influential significant other in athlete experience (Bartholomew, Ntoumis and Thogersen-Ntoumanis, 2010; Pensgaard and Roberts, 2002).
- Contextual environment (climate created by coach) influential on athlete motivation and behaviour (Gagne, Ryan and Bargmann 2003).
- Key findings for motivational climate in elite teams:
1. Elite Olympians: importance of coach as creator of MC, and support of Mastery climate (Pensgaard and Roberts, 2002)
2. Elite soccer: Prefer positive feedback and democratice coach behaviour (Hoigaard et al, 2006)
3. High perception of master climate and low performance climate associated with increased perception of task cohesion and collective efficacy (Heuze et al, 2006)
4. Strong master climate associated with greater performance improvement and satisfaction (Balaguer et al, 2002)
5. To decreease player perception of distress, focus on mastery climate for elite athletes (Pensgaard and Roberts, 2002).
- Study with NZ All Blacks generated 8 main themes:
1. CRITICAL TURNING POINT
- Drinking issue, so meeting Captain/VC/Coaches to create leadership group. This increased accountability, more ownership and dual management. Coaches' desire to foster autonomy.
- After 2007 RWC, sought feedback from previous NZ coaches. Looked at reasons for failure in past campaigns and planned strategically to try and combat past errors.
2. FLEXIBLE AND EVOLVING
- Evolving coaching style
- Smith changed approach depending on situation and goal - sometimes tough and directive, others empowering and encouraging. Depends on needs of players, group awareness, time in week/season etc.
3. DUAL-MANAGEMENT STYLE
- Dual-management by players and coches. Players feedback on training intensity and game plan.
- Reminiscent of Autonomy-Supportive Coaching (Lyons, Rynne and Mallett, 2012), Emotionally Intelligent Coaching (Chan and Mallett, 2011) and Transformational Leadership (Callow, Smith, Hardy, Arthur and Hardy, 2009).
4. BETTER PEOPLE MAKE BETTER ALL BLACKS
- "What you do shouts so loudly that I can't hear what you're saying"
- Link to on and off the field decision-making so all influenced selection.
- Empowering he players, ownership and accountability.
- To problem solve on the pitch, do it off the pitch = Analyse self/opposition, present to squad
- reflects Transformational Leadership
- Leadership Group / On Field LEadership / Season Planning
7. EXPECTATION OF EXCELLENCE
8. TEAM COHESION : COACHES AND PLAYERS
- Horizontal coaching structure: give other coaches ownership too
- Alignment and clarity
- "Keep it fresh", coaches swap roles and mix up training etc
- Enjoyment and fun
AUTONOMY SUPPORTIVE MOTIVATIONAL CLIMATE (Mageau and Vallerand, 2003)
- athlete presented with choice and rationale for tasks, feelings acknowledged, opportunities to show initiative and independent work.
- Empowering, noncontrolling competence feedback (increase strengths, not just decrease weaknesses)
TRANSFORMATIONAL LEADERSHIP (Bass and Riggio, 2006)
- Build relationship with players based on personal, emotional and inspirational exchanges with goal to develop player to their fullest
- Arthur et al (2012) transformational leadership model in elite sport:
1. Inspirational VIsion
2. Support to achieve it
3. Provide Challenge to achieve it
Also: Individual consideration; inspirational motivation; intellectual stimulation; foster acceptance of group goals; high performance expectations; appropriate role modelling
- Emotional Intellgence and Character Building.
Rugby Coach's Corner Podcast - interview with Richard Cheetham
- Over a season, potentially 126 warm-ups which provide chances to learn. Be creative, don't miss opportunities. Set the tone.
- Compares it to a Bond film = first 3 mins end one story and start the next, loads of adventure to hook you right away - get active quickly!
- Session must be purposeful with designed outcomes
- People are a product of their environment. Discover, Develop, Consolidate. Enable players to be fearless.
Perception-Action Podcast 21D - interview with Noel Rousseau
- Explicit intervention leads to cognitive loading and change of attention so many golfers will reach overload. Circumvent that by not giving them time to think.
- What makes an intervention work? Could be temporal eg. Time golfers can stand over the ball before swing.
- Common thinking was 'don't think about technique under pressure' and many golf psychologists saying the same. Research by Noel found different, some people react favourably and some worse.
- Recent experiments on the individual to measure Working Memory Capacity and their propensity to be visually or virtually oriented. People with increased WMC better with coaching intervention. Key is understanding individual difference.
- No one right way but important to be aware of trends
- Load minds as little as possible, be explicit only when need to be.
- ANALOGIES = provides lots of info that they are already aware of to help understand what is expected from them in a movement.
- Look to rhythmic and whole movement cues - bigger movements and less detail.
- Consider the Key Movement Effector : what will make the biggest difference?
Perception-Action Podcast 27C - Effects of Mental Fatigue on Attention and Decision-Making
- Perceptual and attentional demans are mentally demanding. The need to constantly stay focused, shift gaze and detect subtle changes in opposition movement leads to fatigue.
- Physical and Mental fatigue. Interesting part of research found gaze behaviour didnt change during game, so why did performance decrease later on? 1. Limited supply of mental energy, therefore still focused but less effective? or 2. Motivation decreases and attention is drawn elsewhere.
Freakonomics Podcast - What are gender barriers made of?
- Megan Sumner: perception of listener depends on how and what is said ie. class, geography, gender. Gendered listening starts by age 4.
- Iris Bonet: Interviews are generally useless and do a bad job of predicting future performance. Some useful information, but tough to sift through and separate valuable from less valuable. There is a need to change how we listen - eg. Women penalised for being assertive, men are rewarded.
Need to redesign how we hire and assess people. Try to measure which questions do a good job of predicting future performance and use them in same order with all candidates. Ensure that looking at results you are blind to the candidate and demographic.
Do away with Self-Evaluation: if people differ in self-confidence then different self-appraisal, influencing how a manager appraises them and their colleagues. Consistent gaps between men, women, cultures etc in how they self-evaluate.
- Devise solutions that factor in your biases. Don't rely on people making good decisions, design a system so success isn't relying on every decision being good so that it is crippled by everything that could go wrong.
Hidden Brain Podcast - Google at Work
- How do you find talent that isn't looking to be found?
- Google looks for 'Emergent Leadership' - when individuals see a problem they step in to make it better.
- Project Aristotle studied what makes teams effective. Underlying factor was found to be PSYCHOLOGICAL SAFETY. Those who normally stand back feel ok to come forward. Teams with higher PS outperform teams with lower PS. Higher PS also found to benefit greatly from diversity.
Rugby Coach's Corner Podcast 22 - interview with Graeme Moffat
- Find the right balance and start with the end result first. So reverse the process of scoring a try - 1v1 skills and scoring, trace back to line breaks and scoring from them, back to phase play and set pieces etc.
Rugby Coach's Corner Podcast 16 - interview with Dave Walder
- "Don't be afraid of silence"
What Steve Hansen can teach leaders about empathy, on McAlpine Coaching
- Empathy is more than to sympathize, it allows people to use their knowledge to improve their companies in subtle but important ways.
- How to cultivate empathy?
1. Listen deepy and actively
2. Be curious
3. Be vulnerable
4. Work on your self-awareness
5. Put yourself in other people's shoes
Why do you make stupid decisions.... on TheConversation
- One reason for making stupid decisions is our inbuilt cognitive biases = we make quick decisions then seek to prove ourselves right.
- Humans tend to avoid Cognitive Dissonances = if a fact doesn't fit our beliefs, we seek to change the fact rather than our belief.
- A further reason to ignore experts us to avoid social discomfort, it is easier to rely on the judgments of our peers instead.
Leadership lessons from the All Blacks, on i-l-m
1. Build a "We" culture
2. Empower your teams. Individual responsibility. Create a self-managing, self-improving environment.
3. Create an environment where individuals learn to make great decisions.
4. Make it fun.
5. Get the mindset right.
Captaincy: Why authenticity matters, on espncricinfo
- Many different approaches to leadership. "Only prerequisite is a degree of authenticity. So long as the captain is being himself, he has a fighting chance".
Why cultures beat policies every time, on growingleaders
- A new culture creates a new normal
- Culture is shaped by:
1. Action and behaviour of leaders
2. What leaders pay attention to
3. What is rewarded and punished
4. Allocation and attention of resources
Seven tools for thinking.... on learningspy.co.uk
This is a series of 7 blogs commenting on Daniel Dennett's 7 Tools for Thinking.
1. Use your mistakes
- trick to making good mistakes is to not hide them. Savour your mistakes and delight in understanding what led to them.
2. Respect your Opponents (Principle of Charity)
- The Principle of Charity is to assume, until proven otherwise, anyone who disagrees with us is as intelligent, informed and ethical as we are, and we should strive to interpret their claims and evidence in the most positive way possible.
3. The "Surely" Klaxon
- Use of the word "surely" often indicative of weak point in argument.
4. Answer Rhetorical Questions
- Rhetorical questions show willingness to take a short cut. Pursue the line of reasoning, is there an unobvious answer to be considered?
5. Employ Occam's Razor
- "All things being equal, simplest solution is usually the best one"
- "It is pointless to do with more what is done with less"
- Remember it is only a heuristic device and proves nothing
6. Don't Waste Time on Rubbish
- there is plenty of substandard if you look for it. Don't waste time with it, focus on the best stuff you can find and critique that to learn.
- Don't trust sweeping statements. In a complex system, average isn't very useful.
7. Beware of "Deepities"
- Deepity = proposition that seems important, true and profound, but achieves this by being ambiguous.
- Something may sound profound but is it bland to the point of being meaningless? Avoid ambiguity.
Perception-Action Podcast, Episode 18a with Mark Upton
- Interesting area of research is coaches and pressure - mood profiling, sleep, physiology. How coach manages self is increasingly important. The "less is more" of high performance goes against prevailing sporting culture of "more is more". An example might be Olympics, prep starts months out. "Choking" may start then, really early rather than in the event itself.
- Strategies for better managing self = sleep, exercise, hobbies
- Constraints approach and dynamical systems. Players need to self organise under constraints. Manipulate the task, emotional state, physical intensity, environment, social etc.
- Complexity Theory. Complex vs Complicated. Complicated requires blueprint to get it right, Complex involves social interaction and uncertainty (eg. Raising children). It is hard to forecast ahead so stay in the moment and focus on how to manage the complexity. Coaching = grey and uncertain.
- Obliquity = aim for something but discover something else en route. Goals best achieved indirectly.
- Skill Acquisition. Important thing is engagement. Big question is what will engage them, not just the practice design.
- Phil Jackson. Players need to disconnect from coach so they are perceptually attuned to teammates and game. Players have to figure it out alone.
- When addressing a problem, define it and tidy it up. Observe well, have good conversations with many people.
- Put self in the player's position - what are the perceptual demands and common situations they face?
Relearn 3 - Perspective, on Drowning in the Shallows
- Gain insight into athlete's perspective rather than enforcing our own.
- Seeing their perspective, we have better chance of developing buy-in and commitment in a way not reliant on compliance, manipulation and persuasion.
How Thomas Tuchel turned around Borussia Dortmund, on FourFourTwo.
- "The team is the star, not the coach"
Glasgow's Gregor Townsend the leading light.... on the Guardian.
- "good coaches always look at ways to evolve and learn".
Overcoming fear in sport: Creating a mastery environment, on BelievePerform
- Research: highly ego oriented towards sport can have negative consequences with performance anxiety and fear of failure. Task oriented takes greater enjoyment and play for personal satisfaction, learning and developmental purposes.
- Goal orientation influenced by the environment players are subjected to.
- Mastery environment = winning is a bi-product rather than the sole aim.
Game Sense Coaches, by Dan Cottrell on Coach-plus
- Good game sense coaching:
1. Have a structure
2. Clearly define rules
3. Allow time for game to develop
4. Adapt rules to include players
5. Play right length
6. Allow chance to reflect
7. Prevent consequences of sloppy play
8. Return to the game in the future.
It's great to have Coaching Conversations return after a bit of a break, this time meeting Vanessa Keenan. Vanessa is a Synchronised Swimming Coach based in Canada and was last year named on the CoachSeek Top 50 Influential Coaches for 2015. You can find more of her work at her website, The Online Synchro Coach, or her YouTube channel.
How did you first get in to coaching?
While I was still competing I started taking coaching and judging courses. I also started to fill in for other coaches when they needed someone.
Having performed to a high level, how did you find the transition from athlete to coach?
For me it was easy, but I think I always knew deep down that I wanted to coach. When I swam I always would be trying to figure out the why. Knowing the why really helped me once I was in charge of a group. I think knowing I wanted to coach made me more aware of everything going on around me while I competed. I was curious about everything so it wasn’t as big of a surprise for me when it was my turn.
How do you think your athletes would describe you as a coach?
I think they would describe me as an athlete’s coach, organized, very technical, knowledgeable, bad at knowing the counts of the routine and goofy!
What are the key elements that you consider when planning a session or meeting with athletes?
I make sure that I plan my sessions to have purpose and that they run effectively. Every drill, warm-up, correction, . . . has to relate back to what the goals for the season are and the goals of the current cycle we are in. In terms of effectiveness, I plan what equipment I need, when I will use the video, when we will watch it and even where in the pool we will go. If I am meeting athletes I always take time to plan out what I want to say and what I want to ask. I really value planning. It helps guide what I am doing.
Your website has the phrase "Coaching with Purpose", what does this mean to you?
I think I alluded to it above, but I make sure that when I am at the pool we are practicing with purpose and I am consciously coaching. I often hear corrections like, “that was better, that was good, not like that”. I strive to give specific feedback on how athletes can fix errors and more importantly I give them specific feedback on what they did well. I am not a fan of doing something because our sport has always done it that way. I need to know the why and the why needs to be worth it. As coaches we are in charge of helping athletes realize their goals and dreams so I take every moment I have to make sure I help them out the best I possibly can. Hence coaching with purpose.
What do you think has made you the coach you are today? Furthermore, what has informed the way you see coaching as a profession?
I was fortunate as a young athlete to have many great physical education teachers and coaches. As I got older I started to see the not so good ones too. Between the contrasts of the two I learned what to do and what not to do. I always knew I loved sport and synchro so when I ran into people who seemed to be trying to wreck that for me I made mental notes of why that was wrong and I would laugh inside.
Beyond that I had some great mentors at the University of Alberta. Dr. Vicki Harber and Dr. Dru Marshall had high expectations of us students and they themselves pushed excellence in all they did, so it was quite motivating and encouraging to be surrounded daily by women like them.
I think having such strong role models at University made me realize that coaching is not something that just happens. My mentors pushed us hard to be professionals in academia and in our coaching. They strove for excellence so we did too.
Since starting coaching, what have been the most important lessons you've learned? And what do you do differently now compared to when you started out?
What courses/CPD/workshops are available to you to improve your coaching? Do you rate the coach development opportunities available within Synchro?
In Canada we have a NCCP (National Coaching Certification Program) that spans all levels. Beyond that there are some great programs at university you can.
I wish there were more accessible formal synchro opportunities so I could learn from coaches I may never have access to.
I enjoyed your blog "Get Swimmers to Swim Sharper", particularly talking about the four pillars of Video, Competition, Words and Equipment. You mentioned the inter-team competition to see who can perform the routine sharper, definitely an idea I want to adapt to apply with my rugby side coaching. You also mentioned the importance of painting the picture - do analogies play an important role within your coaching?
I think as coaches we need to try as many ways as possible to get our message through to our athletes. Our brain loves images so the more we can “paint the picture” for the athlete the better the athletes can understand and potentially remember. And we want to paint the picture of what we want not of what we do not want. I think athletes have a really good idea of what things shouldn’t look like and may not be as clear on how it should look.
The previous blog, and also "4 Words to Avoid", reference coaching language - are you very conscious about the type of language you used to help frame the learning environment to develop your athletes?
I am always trying to find news way to help my athletes thrive. I noticed that language played an important role. In the blog you referenced I was having my athletes use their body in the opposite way that I intended. Synchro should be effortless, but a word like squeeze does not infer easy. This relates back to coaching with purpose. As coaches we need to make sure what we are saying is helping. Sometimes we are our own worst enemy.
Much of my coaching and playing experience has been with invasion games where the opposition play an active role and individuals can sometimes find a 'hiding place' should they choose to. Synchro is much more focused on individuals managing to connect with their team to perform a routine. Is this a fair summation? If so, how do you coach your athletes to deal with the extra pressure that comes with not being able to hide behind others?
That is true and false. Great coaches can hide the weaknesses of their swimmers by the choreography they choose. Sometimes we can hide swimmers by where they are placed in a formation.
Synchro swimmers train endlessly on their routines so by the major competitions they can perform on autopilot. The high number of repetition helps to build confidence in themselves and the team. I use lots imagery to help swimmers see themselves doing the routine correctly. We do something called landdrill, which is essential the routine on land done with arms only. This can train the synchronization and patterns of the routine without the full load of performing in the water. I also think having faith in your athletes can go along way. Regardless of the athlete we can ALWAYS find something they do well.
Is it essential for teammates to get on with each other outside of the pool too?
Great question. I am torn on this. It sure makes the season more enjoyable if they do. I think ultimately there needs to be a high level of respect and trust for each other. Like a sense that a teammate will do whatever they need to (ethically and legally) to help the team succeed and that it will be reciprocated. I think this is where everyone working towards a common goal is important and that there is buy in from everyone. Personally some of the most successful teams I swam on did well because we all wanted to win and we were not pals after practice.
What triggered your decision to establish the website? Was there anything in particular that you were seeing among coaches or athletes that you wanted to try and influence, in a positive way, with your website?
There were a few reasons I started my website. One of the major reasons was that I had my first child and by the time I had my second I found it too challenging to coach and be mom. Blogging helped me share what I have learned in synchro with others and it let me continue what I love from home.
I also saw a need for coaches and athletes that are more rural to have access to more information. At the time I started there was limited information out there. It is getting better.
The more I blog the more excited I get by the kind words I receive from people all over the world that have found my blog helpful. I also enjoy meeting new people and learning new things. I have met lots of people I would have never met otherwise if it were not for blogging. I am truly grateful that I have an audience that I can share with.
The effect of physical and academic stress on illness and injury in Div 1 College Football players
- weeks of the season categorized into three levels:
1. High physical stress (eg. preseason)
2. High academic stress (eg. weeks scheduled with exams)
3. Low academic stress (eg. regular season, no exams)
A) Odds of injury restriction greatest during high physical stress
B) Odds of injury restriction during high academic stress are double that of low academic stress
C) Difference in injury rates in all athletes for high physical stress and high academic stress disappeared if only consider those playing, suggesting high academic stress may have increased effect on playing athletes
Championship coaching starts with relationship building, Dr Wade Gilbert, on ASEP
- Relationships a top priority
- Jill Ellis US Women's Soccer lauded for her open and honest communication style. Emphasis on learning to connect with players in a way meaningful to them
- Steve Kerr of Golden State Warriors: Xs and Os is relatively small part of coaching, 80% is relationships and atmosphere
- Building relationships is an act of courage - the courage to be vulnerable
Hidden Brain Podcast, Episode 22. Originals with Adam Grant, on NPR
- Differece between the great and the ordinary isn't that the great have great ideas, but simply have more.
- Greatest originals are those who failed the most because they tried the most - not that originals have higher hit rates, just more volume with more variety so have a better chance of success
- Many people fall in love with their first idea, which are often the most conventional. You need to weed out the familiar to get to the original. Furthermore, it is hard to judge own findings - need to put our ideas out there for judgement and feedback.
- Fostering creativity = values over rules. High standards.
- Rules = people learn to follow and accept status quo.
- Downside to originality = too much of a good thing and everyone marching in different directions. "Pioneers need settlers".
A coaching system that will help you C the light, on connectedcoaches
- 5 main elements: Connection, Confidence, Competence, Character and caring, creativity
- Jon Woodward = on connections "You have to relate to the person and the sport. If there's no connection there, there will be very little development".
- STEPS framework = Space, Task, Equipment, People, Speed
Let the creative sparks fly, with Richard Cheetham, on connectedcoaches
- Create an environment where it is safe to fail
- Players take ownership and devise/adapt sessions
- 3 stages = Discover, Develop, Consolidate
- Environment where they make mistakes and learn from them encourages them to be robust and resilient
- "Direct instruction equals less coaching"
Formal vs Informal Coach Education, by Mallett et al, 2009
- Ongoing issue about most efficient and effective means of aggregating and accrediting the coach's varied learning experiences.
- Research has shown that coach ed/accred is less valued than experiential learning and other less formal opportunities
- Learning mediated by Knowledgeable Other so learners have less control over what is delivered and learned.
- Debate of F vs In has little value as coaches need access to varying educational opportunities
- Growing evidence that coaches "feel" more learning taking place in informal situations
Formal, Nonformal and Informal Coach Learning: A Holistic Conceptualization, by Nelson et al, 2006
- Formalised learning episodes were found to be relatively low impact endeavours when compared to informal, self-directed modes of learning
Sources, topics and use of knowledge by coaches, by Stoszkowski and Collins, 2015
- Results revealed coaches preferred coaching knowledge from informal learning activities, especially with social interaction.
Emotional intelligence integral to becoming a great coach, on connectedcoaches
- Emotions drive thoughts, thoughts drive behaviour, behaviour drives performance
- The more you know your player, the better you can coach them.
- Emotional Intelligence is the ability to understand and control emotions to be able to perform to absolute potential (Catherine Baker)
- A key term in Emotional Intelligence is Self-Awareness.
- Top tips:
1. Understand your EI make up
2. Work on behavioural agility
4. Practice adapting behaviour to the person you are coaching.
No foul mouths on this field, on NYtimes
- Jimmy Graham on Carroll's Seahawks = "here, they feel like you guys are already men and we're going to treat you like men. It's literally all positive reinforcement."
- Gervais' psych and emotional input possible as Carroll built a team that valued keeping an open mind.
- Carroll and his staff are "supportive and nurturing"
How to increase mental toughness: 4 secrets of Olympians and Navy SEALS, on Bakadesuyo.com
1. Talk positively to yourself.
- Optimists have the view that bad things are temporary, bad things have a specific cause and aren't universal, it's not their fault.
2. Set goals
3. Practice visualization. Don't seek perfection, try to see problems you may encounter and how to solve them
4. Use simulations
Billy Bean on making better decisions... , on farnamstreetblog
- When he hired he looked out of sport to someone who didn't have his biases - Paul dePodesta was a Harvard Econ major.
- Remove the emotion from decision making - your own experiences are tied to an emotion. Take blind eye and look at things fresh. Don't make assumptions.
- Always analyze your process, make sure you weren't correct through serendipity but because the process is good and you are doing things properly.
- "I think, if anything, we certainly didn't fear failure, because we felt like going a traditional path was certainly the surest of failure based on revenues and the payroll we were on"
- Always analyze your foundation as culture and tradition are ingrained quickly. If you wrongly assume you are correct, it can really go awry.
Importance of friendship groups in sport, on SCUK
- understand young people's motivations for coming
- take time to understand friendship groups
- Encourage more/bigger/new friendship groups
- Allow time for social (media) breaks
The Rocky Road of Excellence, on changingthegameproject.org
- You must risk being uncomfortable to achieve something worthwhile
- Alan Stein = "Do the habits you have today match the dreams you have for tomorrow?"
- As coach, give players and team accountability. Hold to high standards. Make it tough, then be there after to debrief and understand outcome.
Greetings from Cub Med, on si.com
- Joe Maddon's Cubs Spring Training they seek to go about work with a collegiate confidence, a rapport in which the joy of playing together is greater than the burden of having to meet expectations individually.
- "Embrace the target". They welcome expectations.
- Joe Guru stressed Individuality and Authenticity. Spring Training isn't about reps but to think properly.
- 1st week Maddon has meetings with all players and he gives players the freedom to be most relaxed self.
Jameis Winston: What I learned, on MMQB
- A lot of what we did was just developing good habits
Drills. Why not? on rightbackonthebench
- Games based training works due to amount of touches, "players practicing everything the need to improve at football - practicing assessing the football situation, making a decision based on that assessment and then executing that decision all at the same time"
Is your feedback process false and failing?, on Coach Logic
By Allistair McCaw.
- A lot of coaches not consistent enough in providing honest feedback - regardless if nice or not.
- Many talk of 5:1 ratio in favour of positive comments, AM is more like 3:1 as need to be honest and realistic
- Eastern Euro coaches brutal honesty compared to US or UK
- Not 'criticize' but 'information'.
- Feedback centres around
1. Timing of it
2. Feedback based on facts, with proof
3. Feedback that is honest
- Lying to athlete and self if not giving the info they need
- "You don't improve with criticism, rather you improve with the right information"
- Effective communication 80% how delivered and 20% what.
Old Trafford kids buying into my philosophy, on DailyMail
- Louis Van Gaal - "I think being a teacher is part of my function as manager"
Edd Conway is a London-based rugby coach. This blog will comment on coaching stories and articles, share my experiences as well as meeting and interviewing coaches,