A List Of Actions And Habits That Enable Effective Coaching
Have you ever considered the type of things you are doing when you are at your happiest and performing your best as a coach? What actions and habits are contributing to those times when you are at the top of your game, things are humming along, and you are loving it?
I have identified ten items that I have noticed are occurring when I am at my most effective as a coach.
When I am at my coaching best, I am:
1. Following A Clear Coaching Philosophy
To be most effective, I have found that I need to operate with a clearly thought-out and articulated coaching philosophy. It gives me a strong coaching identity and a powerful sense of purpose, which drives what I deliver. It provides me something into which I can anchor my coaching practice, and onto which I can fall back for guidance and direction.
If you haven’t yet developed a coaching philosophy, I strongly suggest that you do. And don’t just carry it around in your head. Write it down. Articulating it in this way requires you to think deeply and clarify your thoughts. It also means that you can display it somewhere prominent and refer to it regularly, keeping it front-and-centre of your coaching consciousness.
2. Plunging Into Planning
I know that I run my best sessions when I have started the planning process as early as possible. It allows my ideas to settle, grow, develop and blossom. In contrast, last-minute planning leaves the process feeling rushed, incomplete and stressful.
Ideally, I like to start my next session plan as soon as I have reviewed my previous session – in the same sitting. Even if it is just a few notes, getting something down while I am in a planning/reviewing headspace is really beneficial for me. Even if I have to come back to complete the plan later, the few things that I have noted makes the eventual process quicker and easier, and ensures that what I have learned from the previous session is carried forward to the next.
3. Pondering The Past
I have found that looking back really helps me move forward. When I look back to learn, I am tapping into an enormous cache of experiences. In doing so, I am often reminded of learnings, games, activities and ideas that otherwise I would have forgotten.
Obviously, the key is to have a robust process for recording, storing, and retrieving this material.
I suggest establishing a method of reliably recording the content and learnings from your sessions, and cataloging ideas that emerge for future sessions. You will also need some type of routine for consulting these recordings to ensure the golden nuggets that they contain are not lost.
4. Identifying My Session Intent
In addition to having my overarching coaching philosophies, I know my coaching will be most effective when I have taken time to establish and articulate a clear intent for each of my sessions. Firstly, it helps to direct my search for, and selection of, session content. Therefore, the planning process is easier and more focused. Secondly, the sessions are better, as the content is linked to a purpose rather than being a random scattering of directionless activities. Thirdly, the review of the session is more robust, as you can reflect on whether the intent of your session was ultimately achieved.
If you are not already doing it, make it a priority to formally identify a purpose for your sessions.
5. Establishing An Equipment List
I coach best when I am well-prepared. Having everything that I need on hand gives me the best chance to be in control and achieve my session goals. I find that there is nothing worse than when I have planned a great activity, game, or challenge and then to realise on the day that a key piece of equipment is missing, meaning that I am unable to deliver what I planned.
Within each session plan, I list the equipment that I require for each activity. I look at this list as I pack the car before the session, and when I unload the car on arrival, just to ensure everything is there when I need it.
I highly recommend adding an equipment list to your lesson plan if you don’t do so already.
6. Making An Early Entry
Getting to the venue well before the first kids arrive is important to me. It gives me time to set-up, settle down and get into my coaching character.
I suggest that you plan to arrive at a session early enough so that you are ready to go – both with set-up and mentally – before the kids arrive. If you struggle to do so, I suggest that you consider the feasibility of pushing back the session start time. I think that it is that important.
7. Writing Down My Reflections
I know that my learning will be limited if I don’t reflect. I feel that a coaching experience isn’t complete until I have done so.
Any type of reflection is better than none, but to be effective, I believe that self-reflection has to be more than just a few random thoughts on the way home. Ideally, you want to go deeper than this and have some type of record of your musings that you can later return to.
The real power comes from formally recording your thoughts and using them to drive action for your next coaching effort. Without recording your thoughts, examining them, and formulating a response, it is unlikely that any real change for the better will occur. Such records are also a marvellous resource to keep and fascinating to look back over.
Make yourself write some reflective thoughts down as soon as possible after you have coached.
8. Reading Routinely
The power of regularly reading books that are, or can be, related to my coaching has not always been obvious to me until I am actually in a reading routine. It can be enlightening, envigorating, and energising.
I try to read something educational every day. I believe that a book doesn’t necessarily need to be specifically about coaching to inspire me as a coach. I always try to have a book on the go. A lengthy book can be imposing. But I have found routinely chipping away every day is crucial. Just before I turn the lights out to go to sleep is a reading time that works for me. Even if I only get five minutes or enough time for a page or two, I am always glad that I made the effort. The right books provide sources of inspiration, enthusiasm, and energy that contribute to my coaching passion.
Find stuff that interests you and get reading every day – even if it is just a few pages or for a few minutes.
9. Seeking Inspiration
A great podcast, a webinar, or even a tweet can refresh and re-energise my coaching.
I like to seek out inspirational and educational voices within, and related to, the field of coaching. A constant diet of ideas and inspiration coming from these sources certainly contributes to me being at my coaching best.
Even if you find it hard to make time in the day for self-education, podcasts allow you to learn on the go. They can also add some spark to some otherwise dull and monotonous tasks! Social media can get a bad rap at times, but used wisely it can be a wonderful place to learn from and connect with others. Mix in the right circles and you can find a bunch of generous people sharing a wealth of valuable information and experiences that will help add that extra spark to your coaching.
10. Helping Others Out
I firmly support the commonly-heard belief that one of the best ways to learn something is to teach it.
When I am helping other coaches learn, whether it be through writing articles, developing resources, presenting workshops, speaking at conferences, or through mentoring, I find that I am a more highly motivated and reflective coach. Teaching others is a form of professional development that cannot be underestimated. It will make you deeply reflect, clarify your thoughts, and look at your coaching in exciting new ways.
Be alert for opportunities that contribute to the development of others, and therefore, the development of yourself. It helps me immeasurably.
I have identified that I am at my coaching best when I am:
- Following a clear philosophy
- Plunging into planning
- Pondering the past
- Identifying my session intent
- Establishing an equipment list
- Making an early entry
- Writing down my reflections
- Reading routinely
- Seeking inspiration
- Helping others out
Over to You!
If one or more of these tips appeal to you, or if you have had similar experiences, I would love to hear from you. Also, if you were to make your own list, would you include anything different? Let me know by leaving a reply/comment or by using the contact details below.
If this post helped you please take a moment to help others by sharing it on social media. If you want to learn more I encourage you to leave questions and comments or contact me directly.
Darren Wensor is a sports development professional, coach educator, specialist coach of young athletes and founder of the blog coachingyoungathletes.com. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, Anchor or via email. Check out Coaching Young Athletes on YouTube.