How great can coaching be?

Interview

By Simon Turner

How great can coaching be?

Here’s an exercise worth doing when planning your coaching. Write a review of your upcoming season. Jump in a time machine and fast forward to the end of the season.

What do you want to write in that review?

Our season plans are often full of outcome goals, development objectives, key dates and technical/tactical concepts.

But are you planning for joy? Are you making plans that will lead to great experiences for you and the people you coach?

As much as coaches may wish to believe that winning is what players want, the research says something different (winning actually ranks 40th). So, are you going to wait for fun to happen or plan for it to happen?

The big question is:

How great can coaching be?

We posed this question to Lynne Beattie, captain of the Great Britain women's volleyball team at the London Olympics, beach volleyball competitor on the World Tour and coach of Edinburgh Beach Volleyball Club.

Lynne's answer

Thinking back to the many coaches who have influenced me as a player and a person over the years, (both positively and negatively), there has been a small number of key people who have undoubtedly contributed positively to shaping the player and person I am today, but also how and why I coach.

From personal experience, I know how memorable my very first experience was in my sport, and that has led to my lifelong participation in volleyball, at various levels and in various disciplines.

My first ever coach set the environment for that meaningful experience; an environment that was fun, engaging, energetic, challenging and person centred. They understood what I wanted from volleyball, and what my needs were. These are a few of the things I aim for in my coaching, because I have first-hand experience of the positive impact that setting this environment can have.

"Admittedly, it’s not always easy to get it right for everyone at each session, but my intention is to help make a difference to every single person involved however small or big that difference is."

With this in mind, for me, coaching can be extremely powerful. A coach can present a gateway of opportunity for a person to achieve what they have always wanted to achieve, no matter what their ambitions are; from fun with friends, to overcoming personal challenges, or going to the Olympic Games.

Three takeaways

1. Practice being grateful for the opportunity to coach your team

We can easily see the weaknesses in players and focus only on what they need to develop. That's bread-and-butter for the analytical part of the coaching brain. But have you listed all the reasons you love coaching your team?

2. Fun doesn't happen by accident (plan for it)

Don't make fun an accidental by-product of your coaching. Plan for it. Treat it as a core goal of your coaching. No matter the level you coach at, or the goals of your team, having fun will improve the experience for everyone.

3. Coaching offers the opportunity to change the people you coach

Stop and reflect on the opportunities coaching offers you. Not opportunities for career progression, but opportunities to make a difference. By adjusting your coaching to fit what players actually need from sport you can intentionally create change.

Reflection questions

1. What do you love about the team you coach?

2. How can you (and the people you coach) have fun at your next session?

3. How can you measure the level of joy and fun you and the players are experiencing?

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At MVMT sports, we make the ‘tools of the trade’ for coaches who want to be difference-makers. Our practice planning tools for football and basketball enable coaches to speed up the plan-do-review process and become difference makers for the people they coach.

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The MVMT blog profiles difference maker coaches. Each week we ask challenging questions and share key takeaways that bring clarity and purpose to your coaching.

Read our blog here

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