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Swiss Army Knife coaching! | Coaching Children (Ages 5-12) | ConnectedCoaches

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Home » Groups » Coaching Children (Ages 5-12) » blogs » Ralph Samwell » Swiss Army Knife coaching!
Coaching Children (Ages 5-12)

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Swiss Army Knife coaching!

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Rather than identifying yourself with a coaching personality, how about seeing them as tools from a Swiss Army knife? Belief systems are harder to dump or adapt; knowledge is easier to update. Otherwise, if you only have a hammer, you are going to believe everything is a nail. You’ve all heard, “a bad work-man blames his tools”; or “he is a spanner short of a tool box” or “right tool for the right job” or “trying to fit a square peg into a round hole.”

Perhaps the below archetypes, should be seen as tools or techniques rather than a philosophy to believe in or a personality to adopt or avoid?

Tiger technique

Pros: done well; coaching a child in this way can lead to them being more competitive, productive, motivated and responsible. Tiger technique is about controlled but highly focused emotion to generate the maximum amount of energy (physical and/or mental) to any given task. A great coach can balance the athlete’s natural tendency to take this psychology too far to be destructive, with a win-at-any-cost or ruthlessness, and balance it with ethos and ethics.

 Helicopters technique

Pros: done well; can be over-protective, but may save the child or adolescent from problems they would not foresee. These coaches are highly detailed and meticulous. They remove from the athlete all the bureaucracy that comes with having to remember associated stuff with competition, so the athlete can concentrate only on training and competing with no unthought-of surprises.

 Snow-plough or bulldozer technique

Pros: Done well; push all obstacles out of child’s way, except the ones that benefit development. That being said, the pros are probably similar to helicopters. These coaches can help children feel safe and secure and help being single minded to excellence.

 Free-range technique

Pros: Done well; Children learn to use their freedom, be autonomous and manage themselves. They may also be better able to handle mistakes, be more resilient and take responsibility for their actions. It’s also said to lead to happier adults. You believe your role is to trust the child and then back off and let them experience and learn tactics and timing through just competing; in order to safely experience their independence and to look after themselves, through self empowerment.

 Attachment or gentle technique (common with cotton wool coaching)

Pros: Done well; It provides a safe haven of love and respect in which to build the child’s relationships and from which the child can safely experience the world. You believe that a child’s earliest attachment to caregivers informs all subsequent attachments a person experiences. The argument suggests strong emotional and safe physical attachments to at least one primary caregiver is essential to the child’s personal development. Attachment theory suggests that children who develop strong bonds with parents/caregivers in the early years will have happier, healthier relationships as they age. These coaches try to balance high expectations with empathy and this is associated with the best outcomes.


The point is: there are no bad dogs, just bad owners; there are no bad kids just bad parenting; there are no bad coaches, just poor knowledge applied. Guns don’t kill people, people kill people, speed doesn’t kill, bad driving kills. When a child comes back from school saying what their favourite subject is, they are really saying who their favourite teacher is, (as the bumper sticker states “if you can read this sign, thank a teacher”).

 What do all those thing have in common? It’s always the person makes the difference, good or bad. We only do what we know, when we know better, we do better. Rather than defining ourselves by our technique, have many tools in our tool box or Swiss Army Knife. There are 10 known patterns of natural intelligence, are you going to use the one coaching style you’re good at for all? We all gravitate to what we are good at and ignore what we are poor at. Truth is, an all rounded athlete NEEDS all those techniques at some point, otherwise the coach has built in an athlete weak point, from the coaches lack of knowledge weak point. None of the above techniques are better than another, they are all context driven, and only appropriate for what ever emotion the athlete is going through.

Perhaps there are other techniques and tools missing, from the list you can think of?

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Comments (2)

Adapted Benjamin Franklin. "There are three sorts of people (coach?) in the world:
1. Those who are immovable, people who don't get it, or don't want to do anything about it;” never change a winning formula, we’ve always done it that way, neophobic, if you only have a hammer you treat everything as a nail.
2. “there are people who are movable, people who see the need for change and are prepared to listen to it;” they keep an open mind but not so much their brains fall out, they are the early adapters, adopters and responders to innovators.
3. “and there are people who move, people who make things happen." Innovators, margin and competitive edge seekers.

Obviously?, humans are more complicated than the above list but as coaches where and how much time and how much belief do you store in each category and how do you decide?
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Using this data below, four key factors: (dis)interest, trust, rules, and independence, as well as "time spent together," and "experiences of being scolded." Based on their results, a research group divided parenting and coaching methods into the following 6 categories.

High or average levels of independence, high levels of trust, high levels of interest shown in child, large amount of time spent together
Low levels of independence, medium-to-high levels of trust, strict or fairly strict, medium-to-high levels of interest shown in child, many rules
High or average levels of trust, not strict at all, time spent together is average or longer than average
Low levels of interest shown in child, not strict at all, small amount of time spent together, few rules
Low levels of interest shown in child, low levels of independence, low levels of trust, strict
Average levels for all key factors

Professor Nishimura's group aimed to discover the effects of parenting methods. The results data demonstrated that people and youth athletes who had experienced "supportive" child-rearing where parents paid them a lot of positive attention reported high salaries, academic success, and high levels of happiness. On the other hand, participants subjected to a "strict" upbringing where parents paid them high levels of attention combined with strict discipline reported high salaries and academic achievement, but lower happiness levels and increased stress.
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