How to Improve your Coaching

This post is all about once you’ve got some experience and are working in the industry, how do you keep on evolving and progressing into the coach that you really want to be.

We all have specialist areas of interest within the umbrella term of strength and conditioning coach. You need to have a level of competency in all the areas of the job which are:

– Coaching and designing strength and power sessions and programmes.
– Coaching and designing speed, movement, and conditioning sessions and programmes.
– Rehabilitation and injury mechanisms for your sports and all sports.
– Periodisation and annual planning for the training units above.
– Nutrition, lifestyle support, psychology basic understanding and application.
– Underpinning knowledge of anatomy, physiology, biomechanics, S&C principles.
– Monitoring and recovery and principles behind these.
– Communication with coaches/athletes and clients. For some this comes easy, for others it has to be the primary area of focus as this is what really gets you results!
– S&C for specific populations: Rugby, MMA, Youth, etc etc.

Managing your schedule to include reading time, reflection time etc is very important. You’ll never have as much free time as when you are studying and immediately following your studies when you’re looking for work, so I would make the most of it and try to get through as many books and DVDs as you can! I still read a fair few books, but I find it easier to digest information through blogs, websites and DVD’s.

Reflection is the Way Forward! One of the best ways I have found to improve my coaching is to find the time to regularly reflect on what it is I’m doing. I don’t mean sitting cross legged with some whale music in the background, unless you really feel the need, its more about finding 5 minutes to think about how that session went, or how your exercise selection could be improved for the next phase of training. I always carry a diary with me and regularly write notes when I have an idea for a movement or exercise for a specific population. I also scribble down websites to check out when people mention them to me in the gym, and anything else for that matter. I keep the pad by my bed at night too so that when I wake up in the night I can remember the ideas that come up. Incorporating this into your week will improve your performance as a coach, so make time to do it!

Continuing Education:

This is, of course a key concept, not only for developing as a coach, but also for maintaining our accredited coach status with any reputable organisation.
Here’s a few courses that I recommend you check out:

Functional anatomy with elite physio Dan Coughlan on the 7th and 8th of November

Dan Baker’s Velocity Based Training workshop on the 27th, 28th of 29th of November

Where are you and where do you want to be?

Identifying your areas of development is a better way to develop your knowledge than simply reading random stuff you come across on the internet or wherever else. It’s nice to have time to read what you want to read, I think this is very important, but I would also recommend having a kind of must read list, which should be based on your development needs as a coach. I try to get my interns to write up a competency map when they come into the programme, which is basically a profile of where they are in terms of knowledge and experience coming into the post on a 1-5 scale with 5 being the best coach you can be in that area. I usually talk this through with the individual and then identify areas of development. It works very well, you need to get to a baseline in each quality in order to be able to do the job well and this should be addressed first, from there you can choose to go down a specific path to improve your knowledge in that area. Then you can bring up your weak areas when you feel like they need improving. Very often this will be triggered by something that goes on at work, or a conversation with a colleague about programming etc, which makes you think you need to brush up in that area. These are all healthy things to be doing and will improve your competency as a coach no end.

Who’s in your network?

One of the main ways you can keep yourself sharp is to pick up the phone and call up someone else in S&C. Have you ever heard that phrase ‘you are the sum of the 5 people you spend the most time with’, make sure those 5 people challenge you in some way and from an S&C perspective get you to think about your programmes and ideas. Even if you decide to keep everything the same at least you’ve rationalised your programme.

I hope this can benefit your coaching performance. Feel free to comment if you have any questions or extra tips you think could benefit others:)