Self-Reflection and Understanding how you ‘do’ as a Coach

I’ll often be asked to review a session plan or to provide feedback on a session, something I am more than happy to do because I’m passionate about coaches and athletes collaborating in everything they do. But often, my first response before I review any session plan is ‘make sure you carry out some self-reflection on your session’.

Now it might seem obvious, but as coaches how often do we really put the time aside to reflect on our session? Think about it, in all aspects. As a rough guide, I work on the basis that a one hour’s session (delivery) should be minimum two hours work to allow for prep
(30 mins) and reflection (30 mins).

Sometimes I succeed, other times I don’t. Looking ahead there’s more for me to do as a
coach in this area; in 2020 I’ll be looking at 360 feedback on my coaching as well as filming my sessions so I can really appreciate and understand my own coaching.

Breaking Order to let Creativity Run Wild

A favourite rule of mine when I deliver a session is to cease control to your participants.

Letting the coached dictate one element or the entire structure is not only eye-opening but it also strengthens your understanding of the people you are coaching. It’s a powerful learning tool and provides participants with the opportunity to buy-in to your sessions.

Does it look messy?

Yes! But as humans we’re hard-wired to desire order and organisation. Sometimes calculated precision and structure is essential, but too much of the same and we’ll fetter any real opportunity to let the creativity flow.

Remove boundaries, disrupt traditional delivery and be prepared to let go of your session blueprint. We (as coaches) will feel vulnerable to the unpredictable, but unless we edge ourselves out of that learning comfort zone we will become stale and predictable – much like our sessions.

The Psychological Factor

Heavily influenced by my interest in the subject and desire – time permitting(!) – to study the subject, I’d like to challenge the perhaps conventional thought that ‘psychological’ factors form an equal part of other elements of the coaching recipe.

Whilst all elements should be considered as a coach (technical, tactical, physiological, nutritional…etc..), I believe that psychological shouldn’t form the make-up of any session as cog on an equal basis; it should be the axis to which all cogs sit on.

Take an athlete whom is physiologically capable of completing the session, a master technically to deliver the outputs and socially comfortable to perform within a team environment, but their psychological and emotional state could determine how well they perform. Does this athlete progress throughout the session? Open question…

I am far from an expert in the field, but my aspirations are in this area – watch this space.

Learning to be Human

Can you define what it is to be human?


As coaches we will NEVER know how someone is feeling, BUT we are in a very good position to get a glimpse if we are prepared to engage, ask the right questions and listen.

I know experienced, well qualified and extremely good coaches in a variety of sports, undoubtedly a reliable pair of hands to entrust your athletic potential with. For all these qualities though, they’ve failed to showcase the most important part of coaching – the human part.

We were given two ears and one mouth for a reason – coaches should be the first to appreciate this.

Be it a four-year-old telling me about their breakfast, or an adult explaining their tough day at work (to the detriment of their training) if you don’t listen how will the person feel? Everyone had a teacher they were intimidated by – I certainly did and during their lessons felt too scared to ask probably some key questions that would have supported my development as a student. What are the consequences if we fail to listen, make ourselves unapproachable and deter the opportunity for the coach-athlete relationship to grow?

I’m not perfect and I never will be. As a coach I’m determined to become more self-aware, increasingly balance creative opportunities with my clients and grow my knowledge in the field of psychology.

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