Want to take the next step in your coaching journey, but you’re not sure what to do next? Below, we’ve outlined four actionable ideas for coaches wanting to grow their craft.
Challenge: See if you can take one idea from the list below, and commit to doing it this season.
1. Write down your coaching philosophy
Seriously. This is often harder than it sounds, but spending the time to think deeply about ‘why’ you coach and then putting this down into words has many benefits, including:
- Creating a purpose statement (feel free to call it whatever you want). The point being, that this ‘statement’ is a useful anchor to reflect on when times get tough (i.e. why am I doing this). And it continues to guide and remind you about what success for you means and looks like.
- Clearly define your coaching style and approach
- Clarifying your coaching values, what’s important to you, and what behaviours you expect from yourself and the athletes and others your work with
- Helping to gain a better understanding of yourself as a coach.
Read: What is a coaching philosophy?
Read: What Can We Learn from the Coaching Philosophies of Five Great Coaches?
2. Find a mentor
What do Gandalf, Morpheus and Dumbeldore have in common?
It’s a tale as old as time, where a person’s learning journey benefits from the wisdom of a more knowledgeable other (MKO). A more knowledgeable other can take many forms (a teacher, a peer, a coach, a boss and yes a mentor).
Reasons why to consider getting a mentor to include:
- Learning from someone who has been there and done that
- Gaining access to someone else’s network and contacts
- Having an experienced other to bounce ideas and challenges off of
- Having an independent person to check thinking and get feedback from (who has no vested interest in your performance and results)
- Having someone who has an interest in your long-term development at heart in your corner
If you’re interested in getting a mentor, the next question you might ask is where to start?
For some, you might have access to a more formal mentoring network through your own sport, club or school. If you don’t, and even if not, it’s worth considering casting the net wide. If you have someone in mind, we would encourage you to reach out politely, and see if you can set up a time to meet and learn more about them. For an example of this, read about Jay Carter’s, Golf NZ National Coach, experience reaching out to Wayne Smith to be his mentor in this Q&A.
The best coaches are thirsty continuous learners. Books to a continuous learner are like water to a plant. They are a staple for one to grow and thrive.
Books don’t just have to be about coaching, you can find ideas you might be able to apply to your coaching in all sorts of books. To get you started, we’ve outlined a few book recommendations from coaches and coaching consultants in our community below:
- Option B: Facing adversity, building resilience, and finding joy, Sheryl Sandberg & Adam Grant
- Dare to Lead, Brené Brown
- Brain Rules, John Medina
- Switch: How to change things when change is hard, Chip Heath & Dan Heath
- Coaching better every season – A year-round system for athlete development and program success, Wade Gilbert
- The Constraints-Led Approach: Principles for Sports Coaching and Practice Design, Dr Ian Renshaw
- The Gold Standard, Mike Krzyzewski
- The Score Takes Care of Itself, Bill Walsh
- Above-the-Line, Urban Meyer
3. Develop a reflective practice
Coaches that undertake a reflective practice have been shown to have benefited from this, both in terms of their own development, but also by benefiting the development of their athletes. Benefits of developing a reflective practice for coaches include:
- Improving self-awareness
- Developing knowledge-in-action
- Building creativity and effectiveness
- Provides a mechanism for coping
- Supports the development of character traits associated with thriving
For many coaches, developing a reflective practice starts with switching our “viewpoint so that when we reflect on a session with our athletes, our first thought is to analyse how well we coached”.
There are many models and frameworks to help guide a reflective practice, including:
[Description > Feelings > Evaluation > Conclusions > Action]
[Description of experience > Reflection > Influencing Factors > Could I have dealt with it better? > Learning]
John Driscoll Model of Reflection
[What? > So What? > Now What]
The most important thing for making a reflective practice work is setting the habit. We’d encourage you to find a little bit of time where you can easily and consistently undertake a reflective exercise (e.g. after training sessions, the day after a game, etc.).
Often when we think about developing ourselves as coaches, we go to the more formal end of the learning spectrum (courses and workshops). While there is definitely a place for this to support the coach’s ongoing development. We know that it’s not always feasible (time, money, flexibility). Hopefully, the ideas above spark some curiosity, and for those ready to level up, pick one idea from the list and make a commitment to actioning it this season. If you do, let us know, we’d love to hear how you go.