Part 13 – Wrap up
Jeff Mitchell – Community Coach Advisor – Sport Auckland / GACU
This is the thirteenth and final 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 our Taking charge of your coach development series we have looked at how you can take a structured approach to improving your coaching skills. We have covered a lot of ground in discussing the different options available and presented examples of how to put the ideas in to practice. In this final article in the series we will look at how it all ties together in a Coach Development Plan and what to do once you have worked through your first full development cycle.
Coach Development Plans
The purpose of the series has been to encourage coaches to take responsibility for their own development, so they do not just drift along from session to session. One of the best ways to do this is through having a structured approach by using a Coach Development Plan (download a template here). This planning process involves:
- Profiling your current ability
- Setting goals to improve your abilities
- Setting individual session goals to make regular progress
- Reflecting on your progress, and
- Evaluating your Coach Development Plan.
Once you have a written plan for how you will develop your coaching skills, you need to put into action the steps you have identified for achieving your goals. There are a range of methods that you can use to improve your coaching skills which we have discussed throughout the series:
- Working as an assistant coach
- Using a mentor
- Having your sessions videoed
- Observing other coaches delivering
- Making use of the feedback you receive from others, and
- Being part of a Community of Practice.
Once you have set some goals that you wish to achieve, you should complete your plan by identifying the actions you will take to reach those goals. These actions could involve the use of some of the methods identified above. Having written your plan you then need to take action by working through it. The plan should cover a specific period of time (e.g. a year or a season). At the end of this period you should evaluate the plan and then repeat the cycle with a new, updated plan.
Updating your plan
Coach development should be an on-going process – you should be trying to get better with every session that you deliver. This means that when you finish working through a Coach Development Plan you need to begin working on the next one – continuing to develop your coaching skills. The best way to do this is to update your existing plan so that it provides you with some new challenges.
By evaluating your plan you should have a good idea of what has worked well for you and what has been ineffective. You should use this knowledge to help you to write your new plan. A strategy for updating your Coach Development Plan could involve:
- Reviewing your long-term goal: is it still accurate and relevant?
- Reviewing your short-term goals: did you achieve each of them? Were they challenging enough, or too challenging?
- Completing your profile wheel again: have you improved in the areas you were working on? Are there any new areas you would now like to profile yourself in?
- Setting some new goals based on your updated profile
- Identifying the actions you will take to achieve your goals.
It is a good idea to keep challenging yourself with your development. A good way to do this is to add a new development method to your plan. This could include finding a mentor, stepping up into a more challenging assistant coach role, or finally getting your coaching videoed.
Implementing your plan
A plan isn’t of much use unless it is actually used. Often when coaches evaluate their plan they will realise that they weren’t actually that effective in implementing it. It is important that you make a real effort to use the plan, rather than just leaving it in a drawer or in a folder on your computer. Here are some guidelines to help you to successfully implement your plan:
1. Refer to your plan on a regular basis
The best way to stay focused on your plan is to keep it front-of-mind. Make a point of regularly looking over your plan, making sure you are following through on your actions, and checking that you are making progress. Looking at your plan at the start of each week is a good way to do this. Having your goals or key action points displayed somewhere prominently (such as your desktop background or inside your coaching clipboard) can help to make them visible.
2. Review the actions that you are using and decide what actions you will take that week
It is a good habit to plan your week. This could include writing up your session plans, identifying some personal goals, and making a note of the important tasks that you need to complete. While you are doing this you should also look over your plan and identify what actions you will take and when you will take them.
3. Set session goals based on an aspect of the plan
Along with having session goals that you want to have your athletes achieve for each training session, you should also set yourself some coach development goals. These goals will direct you to work on one aspect of your coaching delivery, which you will pay attention to during the session. Use your plan as a guide to set goals that tie into your overall development, helping you to become a better coach with each session.
4. Discuss the plan with a mentor
Your plan should form a basis for your relationship with your mentor. Each time that you meet you should discuss your progress in implementing the plan. It is also a good opportunity to discuss aspects of the plan that are working well or that you are finding difficult. You should discuss your evaluation of your plan with your mentor so that you get an alternative perspective.
5. Share your plan with an assistant coach
By sharing your plan with your assistant coach they will understand what you are working towards. They can provide you with valuable feedback on your progress, helping you to pick up any areas that you need to focus on. Sharing the plan with another coach that you work closely with will provide some responsibility for following through on your actions, and gives you another person that you can talk about the plan with. The more people that are aware of what you are trying to achieve with your plan, the more people that can support you to achieve it.
6. Do additional research on areas that arise
As you continue to focus on improving your coaching skills, you will notice areas that you need to do some more work on. Some of these areas will be new to you, or you may not be clear on how to improve them. It is important that you continue to research coaching and look at ways that you can improve. The new knowledge that you acquire should then be reflected in your Coach Development Plan – either through profiling yourself, setting new goals, or identifying actions that can help you to implement the knowledge that you have gained.
Coach development plans help you to integrate the various methods of improving your coaching and help to keep you focused on what you are trying to achieve. Throughout the Taking charge of your coach development series we have looked at what you can do to further your own development. Don’t let your development rely on chance; be proactive and seek out opportunities to continue to grow, and your athletes will grow with you.