Posted On Friday, 30th September 2011 at 05:54
“It’s what you learn after you know it all that counts”.
This quote by John Wooden reflects the importance of continually developing as a coach and suggests that gaining qualification as a coach is merely the starting point of that development.
A review of the coaching process by Nash and Collins (2006) highlights the progressive nature of coaching knowledge. A fundamental knowledge of physiology, biomechanics and psychology is important in addition to an understanding of coaching principles such as communication, session organisation and instruction.
Once this knowledge base has been established, it is then important to gain an understanding of how these principles work together. The final stage of learning is gaining the knowledge of how and when to apply the principles in different situations. This knowledge is most easily learned whilst working with experienced coaches and reflecting on own coaching practice.
Ian Jeffreys (2010) provides a similar verdict in his article “The 5 minds of a strength and conditioning coach”. He discusses the following “5 minds”:
- the disciplined mind (knowledge base)
- the synthesising mind (integration of knowledge for effective application)
- the creative mind (finding new solutions to training problems)
- the respectful mind (how the training is delivered)
- and the ethical mind.
The article recommends that the improvement of each of the “5 minds” is vital for maximising the development of a coach.
Applying research into practice
I have always tried to enhance my knowledge of strength and conditioning by reading books and journal articles and using online coaching resources. However, both of the above articles highlight the importance of learning how to use and apply this knowledge in differing sporting situations. After reflecting on my first coaching experiences with Excelsior, this is an area which I feel I need to develop, particularly when helping athletes learn new exercises.
Effective Instruction is vital for successful learning of movement skills and a recent article in the Professional Strength and Conditioning Journal by Ian Jeffreys outlined the role of attentional focus when coaching.
Jeffreys begins by describing the use of internal focus, concentrating on specific muscle activation, when instructing the initial learning of a movement skill. This is a strategy that I believe I use regularly when coaching, particularly with lower body exercises such as squats or core exercises such as superman or plank. However the article highlights how the use of external focus at the initial stages of learning may be more beneficial.
During my first coaching experiences with Excelsior, I have been able to witness the use of varying degrees of external cues used within a group of athletes with a range of ages and experience levels. It is now essential for my development as a coach to try and apply similar techniques in coaching sessions and evaluate how successful they are.
I feel that the process of gaining the knowledge of many different coaching strategies such as this, and the experience of when to use them, is vital for the development of a coach.
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