Any organisation delivering sports coaching to young people should have positive coaches who are passionate about ensuring that children develop, have enjoyment and remain safe in sport. A good sports coach will recognise that no session is perfect and will constantly look to develop as an educator.
1. A Clear Philosophy
A philosophy that sets the expectations for parents, schools and young people when they come to your sessions. Every action and decision in the organisation should be made with this in mind. The coach will recognise that without understanding the impact they are wishing to make they cannot measure the success of a session.
"uSports exists to provide as many children as possible the opportunity to have a positive experience with a variety of sports at a young age. We are passionate about ensuring children develop in a fun, safe and happy environment whilst educating them not only in sports but as young people."
- uSports Philosophy
2. A Passion To Develop
Everyone knows a coach that thinks they know it all, and if you don't, it may well be you! A willingness to undertake personal and professional development will be one of the most successful attributes that a coach can have. No coach started at the top!
The resources available to us as coaches are incredible and they should be used!
Shadowing experienced coaches
To be able to watch a video of Pep Guardiola discuss his philosophy for example... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gbD8_IEq3K8
3. A Growth Mindset
Understanding the growth mindset is one of the most effective tools for any sports coach because it helps you to understand and tailor your coaching to support the development of others. A growth mindset, if you don't know already, suggests that you will develop through making mistakes. Although you may be born with skill, it is suggested that only after 10,000 hours of practice you will become an expert.
For us as coaches, it is beneficial to use this to our advantage and recognise that the mistakes which we make are opportunities to learn. I would encourage any coach to read Bounce by Matthew Syed (who went to the same primary and secondary school as me and grew up locally in Reading) as a starting point to understand the mindset.
4. Communication and Organisation Skills
Throughout your coaching career you will need to communicate effectively to a number of different people.
Communicating well directly to the children in your session is just the start of it! A good coach will be able to build relationships with members of the group as well as parents, teachers, officials, opposing team members and so on.
You also need to get good at actually doing what you say you will do. It is important to stay organised as a coach, personally I have a to do list which will always remind me of actions I need to make. We are very busy people and on a Saturday Morning in the pouring rain it is easy to think you will remember to do something but without a prompt it can soon become a long forgotten task.
5. Having A Genuine Care For Those You Coach
Your responsibility as a sports coach shouldn't be underestimated. You will be a role model for young people and whilst they are in your care you must do everything possible to ensure they remain safe, build self esteem and enjoy sport.
It is important to learn the name of every child who you coach. You may be delivering 30 sessions a week, but for that child your session may be the highlight of their week. Every child should be made to feel respected, cared for and as though they are a valued part of your week.
To become a sports coach you should have completed a safeguarding certification. Although the recommendation is every three years, I would always suggest that sports coaches refresh themselves at least yearly to feel confident in the actions you make if you are exposed to a safeguarding concern.