Part 4 – Goal setting within session plans
Jeff Mitchell – Community Coach Advisor – Sport Auckland / GACU
This is the fourth article in a series of 13 on developing your coaching skills. For the full list of articles in the series see the articles page.
In Issue 3 of Taking charge of your coach development we discussed how to set goals as part of your Coach Development Plan. To achieve your goals you need to work at them consistently; setting coach development goals for each session you deliver is an effective way to do this.
The best way to achieve a goal is to actively work at it. To work through your Coach Development Plan you need to work on your goals on a regular basis, and each training session is the ideal time to do this. By focusing on an area of your delivery in each session you will maximise the benefit you receive from your coaching experience.
Using coach development goals in your sessions will help you to focus on making changes to your coaching. They are useful for using new coaching skills, and can also help you to track your progress in a particular area. By incorporating coach development goals into your sessions you will be continuously developing as a coach.
How does setting coach development goals sit with an athlete-centred approach?
Identifying your own goals for a session is consistent with an athlete-centred approach as it is helping you to develop your coaching ability. By improving your coaching ability you will be able to provide a better level of service to your athletes, helping them to develop quicker. Continuous learning is a hallmark of a quality coach; by setting your own development goals for each session you will be learning every time you deliver.
It is important to remember that as an athlete-centred coach your first priority is to meet the needs of your athletes. This means that when planning a session you should start with the objectives that you wish your athletes to achieve. The session content should then be developed to enable the athletes to meet these objectives. You can then look at your coach development objectives and decide which are appropriate given the content of the session.
Each session should have a coach development objective and a coach development goal. The objective is what you are trying to get out of the session, which may be an improvement in a specific area. The goal is what you wish to achieve in the session. Your session goal should allow you to achieve your session objective.
Once you have written your session plan have a look at the goals in your Coach Development Plan and decide which are relevant. For instance, if you were working on teaching a new skill in the session then a coach development goal around demonstrating may be appropriate. If your Coach Development Plan had a goal around increasing the number of questions you ask, you might set a session goal around asking questions of each player. Include your objective and goal in your session plan:
Tracking your goal
For the objective you wish to achieve set a SMART goal for how you wish to incorporate it into your session. Make sure that you are able to monitor it in some way, and clearly identify on your session plan who will collect data on your goal. For example, to check how many times you ask an open question you could:
- keep a tally on your session plan throughout the session
- have a parent or assistant coach keep a tally
- have a mentor or critical friend observe the session and keep a tally
- have your session videoed and then count the number of open questions that you ask.
It is best to have just one coach development goal to focus on during a session. After all, you have the content of your session to deliver, your athletes’ needs to meet, your coaching points to get across and everything else that the coaching process requires. Take just one aspect of your coaching delivery and make an effort to deliver it effectively.
Achieving your goal
As with the goals in your Coach Development Plan it is important that you identify how you will achieve your session goal. This could include identifying two or three actions that you will take during your session to help you to focus on the appropriate area. By identifying and following through on these specific actions you will improve the quality of your delivery during the session.
In Issue 3 we met Coach Gary who was looking to improve his use of open questions. Below is a portion of his session plan which shows how he has incorporated a coach development goal and identified how he intends to achieve this goal. It is important that you include your coach development goal in your written session plan, so that it is more than just a good intention.
Reviewing your coach development goal
Following your session it is important to review your coach development goal and decide if you have achieved it. If you did then great! You are now another step closer to achieving a goal in your Coach Development Plan. You will want to take the actions you worked through and repeat these again in future sessions. If you did not achieve your goal then you will want to look at the reasons for this.
Reviewing and evaluating your goal and how you achieved it – or why you did not – is an important step in improving as a coach. Reflection on all areas of your coaching delivery is a crucial process for a coach to go through on a regular basis. In the next issue of Taking charge of your coach development we will look at the process of reflection, which is an important tool for continuously developing your coaching skills.