On the 19th October I carried out a coaching session at a local primary school in Preston working for Preston North End FC and I thought it would be a fantastic opportunity to reflect on how the session went, where I personally feel the session could have been better, what my strengths and weaknesses are and what I will do differently the next time I coach a session. The primary school is a brilliant school which has some very talented young players, however trying to manage 40 5-6 year olds between 2 coaches for 1 hour was very challenging and I personally feel the session could have gone a lot better, which is why I am going to reflect so the session can be a huge success in the future.
Having planned a session for 10 KS1 players days before it was going to be delivered, I was a little nervous heading to the school as it was my first ever session working for Preston North End and I didn’t know what to expect. Although I have carried out numerous sessions for this age group before, I feel it is always good to be a little nervous going into the unknown as it shows I am not too confident and want to do my best. Being faced with 40 Key Stage 1 children all running around and being giddy due to excitement, it was nothing like I expected and knew my work would be cut out. As previously mentioned I will begin to analyse and reflect on where my coaching session could have been better and then reflect on my strengths and weaknesses as a coach before, during and after the session.
I believe the session didn’t go as well as I thought because I turned up to the school thinking I would only have 10 participants in my group. Once I was confronted with 16 in my group, I then began to realise I was in for a huge struggle, which leads my onto my first weakness, planning. Although I did plan a session for 10 participants beforehand, what I should have done is planned numerous other sessions to enable me to go with different sessions to accommodate the numbers that I was confronted with. By doing this, it would have enabled the session to flow more thoroughly and would have given me some ideas into what session I can do with the numbers that I had. What I also found during the coaching session is that the participants were messing around because there was no real structure to the session, which links back into the planning stage of the process. If I had planned sufficiently and considered more than one session plan, then I believe the session would have been more successful. Planning is vital in securing the focus and attention of the participants, as if they see the coach understanding what he/she is saying and one activity of the session leads into another, then the participants will be focused and want to perform well. As seen in the lesson planning book by Butt, he clearly back up this argument of successful planning leads into a positive mind-set for the session once being delivered. He quotes in his book ‘the key to good teaching, purposeful class management and the achievement of sustained educational progress lies in effective preparation and planning’ (Butt, 2008). Digging into this piece of evidence further, what is being said is that teaching/delivering can be very successful if thoughtful preparation and planning is being put in beforehand. If this is done then there will be clear significant progress being shown by the players or participants in that environment. Linking this into my weakness stated above, it clearly shows that because I didn’t carry out sufficient and thorough planning and preparation before the coaching session, this meant that progress wasn’t made by the players and the session didn’t run as smoothly as I would have liked. Reflecting on this weakness will allow me to plan in-depth before and make sure that I have taken into consideration more than one aspect and it will also enable me to deliver a more successful and enjoyable sessions at this school in the future.
Another weakness that I pulled out of the session was time management. I spent too much time signing the players in at the start which then meant the time for the session decreased significantly. This meant that the participants had less than an hour to perform and learn their football skills, which from a coaching point of view is very poor time management. Once during the session, I only got the footballs out half an hour in, which meant that the performers taking part couldn’t practice their skills in good time to understand and learn. To overcome this weakness in the next session, I need to give myself enough time and make sure that I start signing the players in even earlier, so they then can utilise the time we have with them to learn new skills. I also need to make sure that I have planned my sessions in more depth which leads back into the other weakness above, so the players can learn with footballs rather than listening to me as the coach dictate what they have to do. By doing this, it allows me to give them ownership and to think for themselves, delving into deep practice mode, rather than me handing it onto a plate for them.
However, there are many strengths that I can pick out from this coaching session. The first strength in which I can adapt even more on is my communication skills. The way in which i spoke to the children to make sure they were engaged and focused clearly shows how well I communicate with the participants. To enable the children to learn, communicating with them in the right way and manner is a key element in their engagement and learning in football. If the coach cannot communicate correctly and in the right way then the players will become disinterested and they wont want to continue with the sport, meaning participation figures will decrease as a result. ‘The success of any coach, at perhaps every level of competition, is determined by his or her ability to effectively communicate with athletes and in turn getting them to better communicate with each other’ (Commission and Australia, 2008). This quote clearly highlights the fact that no matter what level of coaching or participation you are coaching at, communication at any level must be effective to make sure that not only do they improve on their own skills, but they can communicate with one another in order to learn off each other effectively. This is a valuable piece of evidence which will allow me to improve and expand more on my strength of communication, enabling me to improve further as a coach.
Another strength which I can reflect on to enable me to improve further is my personal skills. The age group in which I was coaching was 5-6 year olds and to make sure that they had a fun time and enjoyed themselves, I as the coach, had to act like I was their age. I believe that by doing this, the participants interact more with the coach and they bond a strong relationship, meaning they will be more likely to have fun and interact more than if the coach is just stood there and not showing the players engagement from the coaches perspective. I have got a great understanding of how these children work and behave, so acting as if I was their age enabled me to interact with them very well which allowed them to have fun and enjoy the session, although I felt the session didn’t go well as stated in my weaknesses, the players who were in my group were laughing throughout and even said they were having fun and wanted to come back next week, therefore suggesting to me that what I delivered was fun and enjoyable for them.
By carrying out this reflection on my coaching performance, it has allowed me to dig deeper into my strength and weaknesses, and what I can do better in the next session to enable it to be better and more enjoyable, but also looking at my strengths and how I can improve further on these. In the next session I will take into account what I have reflected on, other academic sources which back my reflection up to see how I feel after the session and if i have improved as a coach.
Butt, G. (2008) Lesson Planning. 3rd edn. New York: Continuum International Publishing Group.
Commission, A. S. and Australia, C. of (2008) Communicate with your athletes. Available at: http://www.ausport.gov.au/sportscoachmag/coaching_processes/communicate_with_your_athletes (Accessed: 27 October 2015).