Back on the Grass

My feet may otherwise argue it’s good to be back on the grass – despite the squealing soles – it is good to be back coaching.

Despite the need to improve my foot care game I’ve been using the lockdown period to consider my coaching attributes and seek ways to improve my coaching knowledge and performance. Yes, ‘performance’ might seem like an odd term to use but to me, that’s what it is. Players will rate their performances from a match day, for me the matchday is every other day – the game is the outcomes of the coaches’ performance in my eyes.

I’ve always been hungry to learn and there’s no better place than on the grass with players and athletes. Here are some things important to me as a coach:

  • Ensure professionalism: One thing I can be a stickler for is professionalism, on and off the grass. Laying the foundations comes with the simple things, like being punctual, prepared and in the right kit. I’m not an authoritarian, but I have standards I like to maintain. Being a grassroots coach and not at a professional academy does not mean standards should be lesser, in many respects, they need to be equal to or greater. Being professional in everything you do might not be obvious to everyone but the long-term standards will not be unrecognised.
  • Seek improvements outside the game: There’s a tendency for coaches to focus solely on their sport or areas without looking outside for ideas. I love the thought of learning from rugby coaches or an ice hockey game or learning about resilience from an endurance swimmer or unravelling my unconscious bias in a professional forum. Wandering further afield offers so much more and benefits our rounded development as coaches.
  • Dismantle and re-build: Sometimes an enforced pause is for the better of everyone and dismantling a situation or structure can be revealing in many ways. To be progressive, self-reflection is critical to keep improving and developing in everything we do. I’ve done that with my 1:1 coaching, I’ve re-thought about my coaching philosophy, planning, delivery and structure and unpicked some of the weaker areas for improvement and made changes with the input of my clients.
  • Keep the challenge: As soon as it becomes easy you’re already losing out on the opportunity to be challenged. Seek challenges, be uncomfortable and learn to let yourself not know something. So often we get comfortable doing what we know so well when in reality we’re stagnating our development and potentially those we are coaching.
  • Respect the opinions of others: and be brave to make changes. It’s hard and uncomfortable to let a differing opinion settle. Sometimes there’ll be no happy middle ground where a compromise meets the needs of all and this feels like a very live situation. Following a period of self-reflection, the need to change is greater than ever, not to collapse all my views and just fold, but to move on and be challenged elsewhere. Not an easy decision, but a new challenge is an exciting one!

OFFICIAL

It’s also exciting to say that I will be running 1-2-1 sessions for 6 to 8-year-olds during the coming season to help grow their love for the game and focus on ball mastery skills, creativity and decision-making. Contact me at [email protected] for more information.

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