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When being interviewed by Coaching Edge England Rugby Union Coach Stuart Lancaster was asked:
If the ‘you’ of today could advise the young Stuart as he embarks on his coaching career, what would you say?
Invest time in yourself, read, get on courses, meet other coaches, study other sports. The more time you spend developing you the better you will be.
What about you? How would you advise your younger self?
I would definitely agree with Stuart's points:
Reading - whether it's been Talent Code or a research paper around Relative Age Effect the more I have read, and actively searched for things to read, the more I have checked and challenged my current coaching practice. Maybe it's a reflection on how little I knew before but it seems you can always find something to consider, to try or to explore - fascinating stuff!
Meeting & talking to other coaches - again a great way to find out new tips or techniques, new books to read or new ways of doing things. The talking shop element that we all do, but trying to ask more challenging questions of them and yourself.
Study other sports - As a hockey coach I've found it interesting to see how basketball coaches explore zone defence and circle play or how rugby league look at deception in attack. So much to learn!
My additional one would be reflection - I feel I just delivered when I was younger, happy in myself that the players were getting better and were happy, rather than refelcting in and on action around my planned outcomes, my behaviour, the players engagement and how I had structured my session. This type of planned, specific and thorough self reflection has really helped me improve my coaching in recent years (but then I didn't really know how to self reflect well when I was younger ... maybe I needed to read more!)
It's difficult to disagree with Stuart's advice. "Always be learning and looking to learn" would be my way of summarising his words. Self awareness / self evaluation is also an important part of this process.
If I was advising myself as a new coach, I would definitely stress that flexibility is the key, and not to overplan everything to the smallest amount of detail. Inevitably, one of your main players will be injured or the weather will take a turn for the worse, or some other problem will arise, meaning that you can't deliver the exact session that you had planned beforehand. You have to be able to deal with situations like this, without getting frustrated, and still deliver a positive session for your players.
I guess you could sum Stuart's remarks as be the best you can be and learn from everywhere.
I think the one thing I would say to my younger self is, 'push yourself and take the opportunities when they are offered'.
A number of times when I was a younger coach opportunities presented themselves and I didnt think I was ready. The reality was I would never be ready until I stepped out of my comfort zone and learned from the experiences, good and bad. After all they are only feedback!
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