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Lucy Callingham -

The Question of Development and Competition

Recently I have been thinking about the different factors that influence us as coaches and the motivations for how we go about our coaching. I am currently lucky enough to be going through my Level 2 Rugby qualification for free, but are there a large number of coaches not having attended a recent CPD event or any kind of formal learning? I understand many coaches are volunteers and fully respect any person that is willing to give up their free time to help others enjoy themselves, but while passing a local football game for what must have been for children aged no older than 13 and seeing a coach full on shouting at the ref and his own player, I cannot help but think what development this coach is going through and how his team must feel about it.  This caused me to think about several factors:

1) Volunteer Coaches- how do we reward and grow

Grass root club would not exist without the hard work and commitment of volunteers. Clubs and NGBs should have framework in place to help their volunteers gain the training they need to do their role and also reward them for their hard work. I know many NGBs do have information available about doing this, but how many clubs have a procedure of putting these ideas into place. Also do small clubs have the funding to put their volunteers through training? Should NGBs be providing a set amount of free CPD to each club to allow them to increase their coaches’ knowledge and keeping their coaching practice up to date? In the case of the example previously is it just personality that causes us to act how we do or can we be influence by the courses we attend?

2) Competition Vs Player Development

Coaches can be under many influencing factors- their players wants, the clubs needs, parents expectations, NGB ideology and even the coaches own desirers… but what takes priority? For me personally it will always be my player’s needs. I will always pick player development over competition, because I believe it has longer, better lasting effects. I know many coaches who can be forced into playing too many games due to the exception of the club to win or believe competition is the sole purpose of the game, which is all well and fair, but if your players aren’t becoming better players for it what is the long term benefits and will they continue to play if they’re on the bench every week because they never have any time to train? Obviously if you are an academy or professional team competition is a very important element, but at grassroots is the pressure really worth it? I’d like to hear some other people thoughts on this.

3) Didactic Approach v Open Approach

Should a coach tell or question? I have heard good arguments for both. Some coaches tell me that when they are dealing with young children they need instructions, they need to be told what to do otherwise it become mayhem. I am very much on the open questioning end of the spectrum, I will let my players of all age groups play and then questions them about why they chosen to do something, how they can improve it and let them create changes to what we’re doing when appropriate. I guess I enjoy mayhem and like giving my participants something to think about and find solutions to. What do other coaches prefer, is there a balance of both or is it a spectrum and you use ndifferent ways of coaching for different ages/drills/ scenarios?

I know this blog isn’t probably one of my most insightful or advising posts, but I thought it would be interesting to throw a lot of the questions I’ve been thinking about back to other coaches to gain their insights.

  1. Sharon Noble

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    I work for an NGB and I know the level 2 in my sport cost is around £500, part of the cost can be found through the county sports partnerships. The clubs also need to value their volunteers and make sure money is put to one side to help pay for these courses. For the coaches being up to date is one of the most important parts of their job.

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