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Happy birthday to us: Celebrating one year of ConnectedCoaches

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coaches collage

TEAMWORK: Joining ConnectedCoaches allows like-minded coaches from all sports and backgrounds the opportunity to share ideas and solve problems together

Like a young child raised and cared for by proud parents, ConnectedCoaches has grown in stature every day since its birth on 15 August 2015. As custodians, we will continue to play a nurturing role, but a big thank you on our first birthday goes to you, the coaches, for helping the community thrive. Here, you tell us what makes the site so special in your eyes.

‘We are here to help,’ is probably the most used slogan of all time. It’s true, of course, that this was an integral reason for us setting up ConnectedCoaches: to offer a helping hand to coaches on their journey of self-improvement.

But since publicly releasing our online community a year ago this week, we have never lost sight of the fact that, firstly, it has never been, and will never be, about us, and secondly, we haven’t needed to rely on pithy slogans or catchphrases to sell our message.

You are the driving force behind its success, while the name tells you everything you need to know about our mission statement.

To borrow a familiar saying, ConnectedCoaches does exactly what it says on the tin.

We connect coaches to form a friendly, like-minded community that values connected thinking as a means of driving personal learning and development.

It is you who hold all the power to make the site a success, and I’m pleased to report you are doing a mighty fine job.

Thanks to your knowledge and enthusiasm, fellow members receive friendly support and advice, have the opportunity to pool ideas and solve problems together, and share their experiences of coaching at every level of the sporting spectrum.

Delighted as we are with how the first year has gone, you will not find us blowing our own trumpet. We don’t need to. Not when there is a whole orchestra out there to deliver a fanfare of praise for what the community has achieved over the last year.

Here is a starter sample of what some of our coaches have had to say about the wide-ranging benefits that being a member of ConnectedCoaches brings.

Problems shared are problems halved

‘A boxer might have an idea an angler can use, or an American football coach may share an idea that a bobsleigh coach might find useful. You might find a tip or idea that you can incorporate into any sport you coach.’

Ian Mahoney captures the essence of ConnectedCoaches by describing its usefulness as a tool to develop a deeper understanding of coaching, through sharing theories and solutions that can work across all sports.

It is a place for coaches to discuss whatever is on their minds, solving problems together.

Ian adds that members are able to share tips and ideas on an ‘infinite’ number of subjects, which had a measurable benefit for his coaching within weeks of him becoming a member, as he revealed: ‘I have used an idea from this site in my capacity as an endurance running coach, which had an immediate impact on my athletes and my ability to be the best coach I can be.’

Simon Browning echoes Ian’s sentiments that coaches from diverse sporting backgrounds are able to swap and share information with efficiency and ease.

‘When you are so involved in your own sport, it can be easy sometimes to think that you are the only one with those problems. For example, doing an amateur level minority sport (American football) has its own specific challenges. How could table tennis help me?

‘Well, what I have found is that everyone is having the same problems, no matter what the sport. Some are at a high level, and some are at the grass roots, but the core is there. If you have a problem, then the chances are someone has already talked about it and can offer insight into how they solved it.’

In attesting to the benefits of ConnectedCoaches, Gary Fowler is another member who relishes the opportunity of extensive cross-pollination of ideas.

‘I've found here you can pose any question or thought and you’ll get genuine, honest, real responses,’ he says. ‘People want to share knowledge and learn from each other rather than just show off how much more they know than you in 140 characters.

‘ConnectedCoaches’ timing was excellent. Just as Twitter was becoming a place for the “I know more than you” crowd and the lemmings that spout the same as everyone else, Connected Coaches was doing the opposite.’

And therein lies the difference between social media and ConnectedCoaches. Ours is an online community, supporting coaches and pooling ideas and insights across sports, whereas a social network like Twitter contains a colossal number of people who may have nothing at all in common with each other.

The word is out

When you run the rule over comments made by members in their feedback, the same positive vocabulary and expressions crop up again and again.

A selection are shown, below, in the form of a word cloud.

Wordcloud

The site is tailor-made for curious coaches who want to tap into the massive knowledge bank that the community can offer.

Member Dusty Miller says he is a huge advocate of shared learning, and feels the platform has opened his eyes to a number of different methodologies, innovations and techniques for creative thinking.

‘Our coaching craft can become stale if we stand still and don’t look to improve, advance and deepen our knowledge,’ he says.  

Using the forum to ask questions or reply to conversations, or just to read the words of wisdom shared by members, can be a great source of inspiration, while more in-depth analysis is provided in our comprehensive blogs.

And while we have a dedicated content creator populating the various coaching groups with articles (that will be me!), members are encouraged to submit their own blogs for publication, offering insight into a particular coaching topic.

Simon Browning has found this exceptionally useful.

‘This community area allows a coach to present ideas to peers. What this has done for me is helped to develop those ideas in my own head. So through the action of creating blog posts, I have been able to bring together what I am doing in my mind and both reflect and refocus on things. 

‘For example, writing a blog about leaving my previous club to take up a new post made me reflect on the impact I had had on my players. I realised that there were things that I could have done better and have now highlighted these as areas of development for myself in my new club.’

Broaden your thinking

How can a coach hope to challenge their athletes’ thinking if they are not accustomed to challenging their own thinking?

ConnectedCoaches fulfils that role.

‘You will be amazed at the depth of knowledge on offer here,’ says Luke Thorpe, who actively seeks out different opinions and approaches to extend his learning horizons.

‘I have certainly benefited from ConnectedCoaches as it has allowed me the chance to learn lessons from different sports. I’ve found so many useful tips and ideas that, although from a different sport, very much apply to my own,’ he adds, echoing the views of Ian, Gary and Simon.

‘I find this is a great place to discover creative ideas and honest opinions from a variety of different coaches who are all committed to developing themselves and others.’

The opportunity to gain a different, objective perspective is one of the aspects that attracted Dannielle Starkey to ConnectedCoaches. She has used the limitless mine of information to further her coach education, both in a classroom environment and out on the ice rink, where she coaches the next generation of skaters.

Membership is not only made up of coaches from different sports, covering every ability range, but from every niche within the coach education sector too, including higher education lecturers, coaching degree students and sports science graduates.

‘Personally, ConnectedCoaches has provided direction for my sports coaching dissertation (she went on to achieve a First-class Honours Degree) and helped solve problems that I have had among my own athletes,’ says Dannielle.

It’s not solely the information that is helpful. Membership of the site provides potential for professional networking, which allows you to seek out individuals who can help you convert your fledgling ideas into positive action.

‘I like the fact there are a number of coaches on here with good links to academia, and they can often provide really solid reasoning for ideas and theories,’ says Kate Offord.

‘It is also a “judgement-free” area where I can ask questions if I am stuck or test out new ideas.’

Price-less advice

Steve Price is one of ConnectedCoaches’ biggest fans, having championed the concept from the outset.

His initial reaction was that it was a kind of LinkedIn for coaches, ‘just even better, as you don’t have to know someone professionally to interact with them’.

‘Understanding how very different sports address their coaching challenges has been a real source of learning for me,’ he says. ‘In addition, the warmth, friendliness and willingness to support and contribute from like-minded coaches in this community makes the site a real bonus.’

And Steve came out with what is, perhaps, my favourite tribute of all, when he said: ‘You would probably pay serious money to get the opportunity to access this knowledge in other ways!’

In keeping with the money motif, members have found ConnectedCoaches to be a vast knowledge bank, where those who open an account are able to make free withdrawals any time of the day to increase their own wealth of knowledge about coaching.

Infographic

And so there you have it. An overwhelming thumbs up from our growing membership as we plough on with our vision of using ConnectedCoaches to advance sport in the UK.

You aren’t just the lifeblood of ConnectedCoaches, you are ConnectedCoaches so thank you for buying into our philosophy.

In popular coaching parlance, give yourselves a big pat on the back. And let’s all look forward to getting connected with even more coaches over the course of the next 12 months.

How have you benefited from ConnectedCoaches? Tell us in the comment box below.

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Comments (3)

   
LawrieOK
Many thanks for inviting me to become an 'early adopter' of ConnectedCoaches - it has been a god-send tbh. At my age it has proven difficult to find a Mentor that I can relate to, so CC has been my "go to" Group to air thoughts, acquire knowledge, and above all receive encouragement. I recommend CC to every Coach I interact with, regardless of their pedigree.
15/08/16
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robertkmaaye
You’re welcome Lawrie! It’s been great to have you on board. You’ve made some fantastic contributions this last year and hopefully will continue to do so in the future. I’m really glad you’ve found it a useful experience.
16/08/16
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EllyNetball
Coaching can be a lonely profession / hobby ... I want to say a MASSIVE thank you to CC and its member coaches for being there when I'm looking for advice and for allowing me to share my thoughts and opinions; the range of topics is wide and varied - all interesting. I'm so pleased to be a 'connected' coach.
16/08/16
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robertkmaaye
It’s been great to have you involved Elly! Thanks for all your terrific contributions this past year. I hope you continue to find being a member valuable in your coaching
17/08/16
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pippaglen
All thanks to you guy's that have given coaches like myself the chance to share our ideas, options and a voice. Thank you for allowing me to be part of such a great site and being able to share my own ideas as well as use other coaches ideas and information. Happy Birthday 🎂 CC. 🎉🎇🏃🚵🚴🏋🏂🎿🏄🏇🏊🏆🏏🏌🏀🏈🏉🎾⚽🎖🏸🏓🏒🏑🏐
30/09/16
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robertkmaaye
You’re welcome Emma! You’ve been awesome since joining! I hope you continue to enjoy your ConnectedCoaches experience find being a member useful
04/10/16
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