Growth- Part 1

Recently I’ve been thinking about how we grow and develop as coaches..

Part of my own personal development is writing this blog, however I believe there are multiple factors that can either stunt or assist you in getting better as a coach, mentor or player.

We’re going to focus on the positives in the next few posts though, as you know I’m all about that.

So in the words of the Great John Cleese:

“And now for something completely different!”

Chris Hillman; Special Teams Coordinator with the Lincoln Colonials and Assistant Coach with the Portsmouth Dreadnoughts has written the below piece about his time in these roles, and his experience of learning to coach:

“When people talk about taking their driving test, they often say that you ‘take the test and then learn to drive’, in some ways I believe that coaching football is the same.

This is by no means a criticism of BAFCA’s education system; which keeps improving every year and has given hundreds of people the skills and qualifications that are helping continue the monumental increase in size and quality we are witnessing in British football (Long may it continue!).

Instead I had a realisation- that to succeed in coaching this sport, you must effectively ‘find yourself’; by developing your own coaching style whilst working with/creating a system that suits you, in a very short space of time.

Charlie- “My posts on Coaching Philosophies might help you with this”

For me, I started my coaching career because I was struggling to contribute as a player and I felt like it was the next logical step; I wanted to stay part of the team and I couldn’t think of a better way, however it seems like no matter how much you prepare, you can never be truly ready.

In between my level one and my first session I had 12 weeks which seemed like a lifetime; I’d prepared session plans, contributed what I could to the season planning and everything was going great, the twelve weeks flew by and I had three rookies eager to learn, what could go wrong?

The Questions…

If you’re a player, think back to your first season and to how many questions you asked your coach, I remembered asking those same questions only a year before and suddenly I was the one being asked and I had to know the answer.

The Respect…

12 months ago, half of the team had seen me drunk, singing Michael Buble at karaoke, celebrating my first win as a player and now, I was asking them to show me respect as a coach. I had one year of playing and a good Madden record, and I was asking guys who had played since they were 11 and at an international level to listen to what I had to say.

The knowledge…

Sometimes you just won’t know how to fix something, but that’s okay. Everyone knew I was learning too and I built a relationship with my players on the idea that if I don’t know how, I’d find out and we would work on it as a team.

So what can you do?

1. Do your research: There is no such thing as too much preparation, especially in Uni Ball,

2. Talk to your superiors: Even if you don’t know something, there is a chance one of the other coaches might. Just because you’re not Pete Carroll doesn’t mean that you aren’t right you don’t know who or what is going to come through the door on that first day so be ready for it other coaches might. A good HC will be willing to help his coaches as much as his players and there is often a lot you can learn from them, so don’t be afraid to ask sometimes.

3. Be Confident: If you know it; show it and the players will respect you, even if sometimes you’re wrong, so be ready for it.

4. Don’t be afraid to be wrong: There is no one in this country that knows everything about the game, we are all still learning and we all can still improve. You will get things wrong, and you won’t know everything; but keep trying.

Finally a word to all the HC’s and Committees around the UK: Place your faith in new coaches, because if they are willing to learn, they will. You can’t play football without passion so how could you coach without it?

Chris Hillman

Special Teams Coordinator with the Lincoln Colonials

Assistant Coach with the Portsmouth Dreadnoughts

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