Punishes frequently – good team spirit when winning, falls apart when losing
Handles being ‘hated’ in order to have respect
Not people oriented
Keen on seeing the job done
Expects 100% effort at all times
‘ Nice-guy’ coach
Athletes sometimes take advantage of personable, cooperative nature
Gets on well with athletes of similar temperament who are already self disciplined
Transmits anxiety through an uptight attitude
Usually focused on the quality of performance and results
‘ Easy going’ coach
Casual or submissive
Gives the impression of not being serious
There are advantages and disadvantages to all styles, but all can be successful.
Coaches have a natural approach which is generally a combination of the above.
Style must be adapted to suit the coaching circumstances eg the authoritarian coach would not be suitable for performers who need encouragement in developmental stages and the ‘nice-guy’ coach would struggle with a senior team working towards a premiership.
Coaches will appear false in a style that is not suited to them.
All of the above styles will need to be used at some time
One feature must always be present – be positive and encouraging at all times.
THE RESPECTED COACH
The respected and effective coach will be:
Instill the highest ideals and character traits into their players
Be enthusiastic and show enjoyment of coaching
Be self-confident, assertive, consistent, friendly, fair and competent
Have a sense of humour
Have a thorough knowledge of the rules, techniques and tactics
Have a basic understanding of first aid
Be dressed appropriately
Be a role model
Be organized (for sessions and the year)
Be able to justify, if necessary, why things are being done, or be ‘big enough’ to ask for suggestions when not sure.
THE COACH’S SKILLS
The coach must be able to:
As well as efficient and effective practices, the whole competition season is essential. It should be based on knowledge and planning.
The coach should be aware of what is happening at all times. This provides info for what athletes need and changes that need to be made. Observation can be improved and refined.
Coaches continually observe and evaluate performances. Act on a number of errors, not simply one. Offer correct and effective advice or credibility will be lost. If more than one error exists, eliminate the one resulting in greatest improvement. Analysing will improve over time.
Improving performance is largely reliant on communication, not only verbal, but listening and appropriate non-verbal communication (such as body language)
The major role of coaches. Advice and guidance is essential. The coach will need to make adjustments to training programs, add new elements and continually evaluate performance.
COACHING CHILDREN FOR FUN & SUCCESS
Social growth and development characteristics should be taken into consideration when planning:
Allow children to contribute to their own learning
Focus on individual needs
Develop basic skills
Include a variety of activities and challenges
Cater for children of different backgrounds
Encourage everyone to perform to the best of their abilities
Protect children from the likelihood of failure
Contain a balance between activity and rest
KEEPING CHILDREN ON TASK
Keep children on task by:
Limiting instructions and making them simple and precise
Allow plenty of time for practice
Plan variety and achievable activities
Give precise and immediate feedback without highlighting mistakes
Include adequate rest breaks, children have short attention spans
Be a role model
PLANNING A PRACTICE SESSION
It is essential that coaches thoroughly plan each practice session so it is enjoyable, profitable and maximizes time available. This applies to all levels of sport – under 8’s to elite.
Types of sessions
the traditional Technique Approach
A new skill is explained, demonstrated and practiced. The focus is on fundamental movement patterns, progressing from simple to complex. Athletes are observed and corrections suggested.
Game Sense Approach.
Uses games as the focus of sessions. Players are encouraged to develop skills within a realistic and enjoyable context, rather than practiced isolation. Technique is important in an overall skill, Game Sense argues that technique needs to be practiced with other factors also involved. Athletes become tactically aware and better decision makers. More on Game Sense in Chapter 3.
You will need to consider the merits of both.
Before planning individual sessions, make an overall plan of eventual outcomes, listing skills rating them from easy to hard.
STEPS IN PLANNING A SESSION
The aim of training is to prepare the athlete for competitive performance.
Always evaluate physical and mental states of athletes for optimal learning time and training intensity.
Evaluate sessions immediately following it and consider the aspects of the next session.
Be aware of and evaluate resources available
Plan explanations and demonstrations of skills, decide activities and teach progression. You should aim for 60 – 70 % success rate, below this means it is to hard, above it means it is not challenging enough.
Encourage athletes to be involved in planning
Be aware of varying standards in groups and accommodate for this, use small groups if needed
Be flexible and cope with unexpected factors. If it is not working, change it immediately.
Beginning coaches suggestions:
Plan so activities flow smoothly, have equipment close and develop routines
Read books and manuals
Drills and minor games can be easily adapted from other sports
Over plan rather than under plan
High activity is best, use small groups
Avoid activities eliminating athletes, they usually need it
Plan for 60 – 70 % success rate
Encourage independent work and self evaluation
ELEMENTS OF A PRACTICE SESSION
A short time where the coach explains the goals of the session and sets the appropriate tone. You may use a board or do it verbally (remember to keep it short) and may relay any messages.
Includes a physical warming-up of the body and a skills warm-up where the skills taught in a previous session are reinforced and practiced. More focus on an active warm up (young kids also get bored with static). Time of warm-up depends on age and condition of athletes.
Stretching should be:
On warm muscles
Not bounced or stressful
Gentle to the point of discomfort not pain
Held for 10 – 15 seconds, at least twice
On both sides of the body
Specific for the sport
ELEMENTS OF A PRACTICE SESSION cont…
This part of the session occupies at least a third of the available time. Using either Technique approach or Game Sense, as mentioned previously.
Skill development through games
Use this important time to apply the skill, or one from a previous session, into a game situation. The key is to ensure maximum participation by all. Games increase motivation and transfer skills better than non-related situations
There may be a need to devote some time to conditioning. It is best done after skills. It may be incorporated into skills and you may revert to skills afterwards to cope with fatigued situations.
Includes a warm down and review of the key teaching points from the session. Cool down is low level and is performed to reduce metabolic wastes. Evaluation also occurs here.
TEACHING SIMPLE SKILLS
Consider what the athlete wants to learn and what the athlete needs to learn and in which order
To develop confidence the first skills taught should be simple and guarantee a successful performance
Select an appropriate teaching formation
Athletes should be able to comfortably observe and hear the coach
The coach should be able to observe all athletes
Avoid distracting elements eg sun, other groups etc
Concentrate on one aspect at a time until achieved
Ensure task is achievable
Keep explanations and instructions brief
TEACHING SIMPLE SKILLS cont..
Following explanation athletes should be able to freely experiment ASAP
Have plenty of equipment
Keep groups small – attempting skills every 30 seconds (kinesthetic feedback – the ‘feel’ will be lost)
Effective observation is the key to good coaching
Can occur during practice or games
Good caching translates observation into coaching tips
Skill acquisition is achieved if motivated and challenged; therefore it is essential to progress
Compare individuals to themselves only
Do not encourage worst or best while learning
At times when athletes are not progressing in order to minimize the athlete’s fear of making mistakes
Know the athletes well enough to know when to encourage and when not to
Praise should be consistent and sincere
TEACHING SIMPLE SKILLS cont..
Provides information that helps learning and development of skills and attitudes. Can positively affect maturation, learning, self image, and motivation.
Allow practice before feedback, correcting only one error at a time, and being clear on how to correct the error
Positive reinforcement hastens development, shouting and criticism does not
Ensure athletes do not practice a skill incorrectly
Do not forget competent athletes
Feedback can be verbal, reports, cues, checklists, videos, peer comments
Allow athletes to critically analyse and evaluate their own performance
Effective feedback should be specific, constructive, immediate, clear and positive
Extending basic skills
As athletes progress new challenges should be posed with the coach gradually introducing game like conditions and situations
HOW TO DEVELOP GAMES
Games have been used for years in practice; the challenge is to make them purposeful. Adapt games to give them a tactical emphasis and challenge players to solve problems.
Modification for exaggeration
Games should be modified and for a specific reason.
Modify games to exaggerate a certain aspect and guide towards a specific outcome (tactical or skill).
Modifications can be used to achieve a variety of outcomes:
Dimensions of the playing area
Positioning of goal posts (and number of)
Equipment to be used
Number of passes or shots allowed
Number of players in attack or defense
Scoring systems – including penalty or bonus
Specific roles for player (goalkeepers)
Adding or deleting game rules
Time is often limited in practice sessions, therefore developing sound group management skills will ensure athletes get the most from each session. The coach must be able to organize athletes into groups, get them started on activities, move groups around practice sessions combine or split groups and keep unnecessary stoppage to a minimum.
Establish where athletes should arrive and at what time, also plan a way to communicate cancellations.
Be prepared and organized with an aim for each session that encourages involvement and challenges.
Arrive early and check equipment is all ready.
Develop a routine for the start of each session, this also assists with latecomers.
This may require a strategy and should be a consistent pattern so that athletes are aware of what to do.
You may use a:
A whistle may be used to stop and start activities, to control games and as a safety device. The response should be consistent, such as stop or jog into the coach, and should be practiced until it becomes automatic.
Sometimes this is better suited to indoors, and may include a simple ‘Stop’ or ‘Freeze’. ‘Freeze’ can also be particularly useful to identify errors in positioning or strategy.
Athletes will need to practice as individuals, pairs, small groups and whole squads. Coaches should quickly organize these groups. This may be done by height, weight, star signs, names, speed, playing positions, skill level etc.
Organizing small groups
‘ Get with a partner of about the same size’
‘ Each pair joins up with a pair to form a four’
‘ Every third pair split to form groups of three’
‘ Four groups of three in each corner of the court’
Start in a circle, splitting into two lines.
Have three leaders and players join in the line behind them
Star signs, names etc.
Using practice stations
One way to organize drills is to set up stations and have players rotate around
TEACHING SMALL-SIDED GAMES
Minor games are an excellent way to practice game like situations and should be used in every session, as they increase motivation levels and better prepare athletes.
Each activity should be thoroughly planned, including formation and equipment, size of the groups, how the group will be established and how it will start.
Give each game a name
Organize the group into appropriate teams and formations
Briefly explain the main rules, method of progress, and method of scoring, restarts and penalties
Start the game – let the group have a go, then add changes as needed
Some games do not require identification eg volleyball, softball. However others can be split by athletes’ shirts (blue versus white), skins versus shirts (male only in warm weather), and shirts back the front or inside out, or by using coloured bibs.
Practice formations are specific to the sport and tasks within a sport
Athletes must be able to pursue the task safely and free of interference
It should encourage movement patterns required in the contest
The coach should adopt a position so that all athletes can be monitored at all times
It should facilitate the flow of athletes, abrupt and unscheduled changes should be avoided
It should promote the development of physical capacities
Coaches need to plan and organize so that athletes are effectively involved. Grids can assist with this as is maximizes use of space and time, and coaches can observe all athletes at all times.
A grid is an area that is clearly marked into subdivisions. The size can be varied according to:
Age of the group
Skill level of the group
The activity involved
10 metre squares are ideal with four athletes in each. The grid system enables large groups to be organized efficiently. Observing from the perimeter means that all athletes can be monitored and a demonstration from one of the middle grids means that athletes can stay in their area to observe and then quickly resume their activity. The coach will need to walk through activities until the squad is familiar with them.
MANAGING ATHLETE’S BEHAVIOUR
Good discipline and dealing with inappropriate behaviours is crucial.
Clearly establish expectations at the first sessions, addressing attendance, punctuality and behaviour. Involving athletes in this process can be helpful
Be fair and consistent
This ensures athletes acceptance of discipline, and should be the same for all athletes regardless of their ability.
Do not put off bad behaviour it is unlikely to go away. Discuss individually or for young athletes, talk to their parents.
Praise and acknowledge appropriate behaviour and effort as soon as possible. Positive reinforcement is essential.
Physical punishment links positive (conditioning) with negatives (punishment) and does little to indicate how the behaviour is unacceptable or how to modify their actions.
Shouting and humiliating is of little benefit. Quietly speak to individuals and praise if it improves
MANAGING ATHLETES BEHAVIOUR cont…
Plan for fun and involvement
Programs that are fun, active and develop skills improve motivation and also reduce disciplinary problems.
Make sure there is enough equipment for everyone so athletes wait no longer than 30 seconds between goes.
Include variety, challenges and modified rules eg using only one hand in a short game of Basketball.
Sometimes problems in the program may be a fault of the coach. Evaluate the following
The coach talking too much
Activities continuing on too long
Players’ waiting too long between goes
Activities that are boring and not challenging enough
Dealing with inappropriate behaviours
Athletes are aware that there are rules of behaviour that are acceptable.
Just the fact that an athlete has been noticed is usually enough
If the behaviour is not corrected, ask the player if they are adhering to the team rules and what should they be doing?
Withdraw the athlete for at time out until they agree to behave appropriately
Time out is away from other athletes but close enough to supervise
On returning try to find an opportunity to praise the athlete or involve them in a leadership role
Contact parents or administration if the problem continues
Communication is an essential key to good coaching. A coach may possess all the technical knowledge and skills, however, without communication it is of little use.
Benefits of good communication:
Provides a sense of involvement (belonging)
Promotes commitment and understanding
Is more efficient (saves time and effort for caches and athletes)
Promotes better teamwork
TYPES OF COMMUNICATION
Verbal: ‘The spoken word’
Can be used to direct play, manage teams, organize drills, provide instant feedback, and instruct athletes and question for understanding
Has 2 main levels: what the speaker thinks and what the listener thinks is being said. The more similar the 2 messages the better the communication.
Questions that encourage a response and allow freedom for more than just a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer. Encourages athletes to think and provide insight
‘ Good’ feedback promotes development, ‘bad’ discourages athletes. Constructive feedback is not necessarily bad. Try using the sandwich technique: ‘Your positioning is good, concentrate on keeping hands high and wide, keep up the effort!’
TYPES OF COMMUNICATION cont…
Non-verbal: ‘The unspoken word’
80% of communication comes from non-verbal cues. If non-verbals match verbals, it is very effective, if not the message becomes confusing
This includes all aspects of body language; posture, gestures, facial expressions and eye contact
Touch can be very effective eg a pat on the back or physical manipulation (guiding the athlete through the movement)
Significant caution must be taken with physical contact. Some athletes are OK with it – others are not. There are sexual harassment issues also. A good rule of thumb is to ask if they are comfortable. Familiarise yourself with the ‘Guidelines for coaches’ booklet.
Tone of voice, rate of speech and volume of voice can change what is being said. How you say ‘no’ can express fear, doubt, amazement, sarcasm or anger. How you say something may gain attention, maintain interest and emphasise points
Arriving on time and dressed appropriately etc communicates that you are interested in what you do.
TYPES OF COMMUNICATION cont…
Use SOLVER as a non-verbal positive checklist:
S quarely face the athlete
O pen posture. Crossed arms or legs creates barriers
L ean slightly forward. Demonstrates interest and listening
V erbal comments are relevant
E ye contact – should be made and maintained without overdoing it
R elax – be comfortable and show it
All athletes respond differently to forms of communication – remember to vary it to maintain interest and ‘trigger’ what works for an athlete.
Communication is more effective when it is open and encourages athletes input
‘ If a coach is obviously interested and enthusiastic about coaching, this can be contagious making the athletes want to learn’
TYPES OF COMMUNICATION cont…
Is concentrating on what the athlete has to say (in actions and words), some coaches find it difficult as they feel they should direct and solve.
Large advantages to listening
Shows interest and fosters a positive environment
Reduces chances of being misunderstood
Encourages further communication
Athlete is more likely to listen if you listen to them
Coach can learn from other athletes
Four easy steps to Active listening:
STOP – stop, pay attention, and do not interrupt
LOOK – face, gain eye contact, show interest, and look for non-verbals
LISTEN – listen to words and emotions, show non-verbals, support with encouraging words
RESPOND – paraphrase, check you understand, summarise, remain neutral and supportive, and use open questions for more information.
COACHING AND THE LAW
The law is a method by which our society determines the rights of a citizen in a particular situation. It touches all aspects of life and sport is no exception. The Australian sporting ethic is strong and as sports become more professional, people turn to the courts to protect their rights.
The major area involved is negligence and duty of care. Negligence is ‘conduct that falls below the standard regarded as normal or desirable in a given community’. Any coach has a responsibility to take care not to harm others.
DUTY OF CARE
There are two prerequisites to duty of care:
The harm must be reasonably foreseeable
The court asks what a reasonable person would have done under the circumstances and compares that behaviour with the facts. Coaches are expected to take basic precautions to anticipate danger. This is not easy but is a relatively low standard test to pass
There must be some form of relationship (called ‘proximity’)
A person does not owe duty of care to the world; there must be a relationship between the two parties.
After these two factors are established there is duty of care. A person will only be liable of negligence if the injured person can prove:
The defendant owed the plaintiff duty of care
The defendant was in breach of that duty of care
The dependents breach of duty of care was the cause of the plaintiff’s loss
The damage to the plaintiff was not too remote
THE COACH AND DUTY OF CARE
There are common factors considered relevant when deciding if someone has breached the standard of care:
Magnitude of the risk – larger the risk = higher standard of care
Probability of risk of injury – higher probability = higher standard of care
Gravity of harm – where activity is dangerous or person is susceptible = increase in standard of care
Difficulty and expense of eliminating the risk – the easier to eliminate = less likely of failure to take steps.
The standard of the coach will be measured against their peers (Level 1 coach against Level 1 coach). If a coach is higher qualified they will be rated higher, that is they will be judged against someone of the same skill and qualifications. The reason for this is a doctor should have a higher standard of care than a first aid officer. If a coach is not accredited or has let them lapse, they will still assume duty of care and be judged against similar standards, even if they are teaching ‘old’ methods that are outdated. Coaches should not become risk averse as athletes still need to be challenged. It is a balancing act between necessary risk and ensuring standards of care are met.