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Tweet Thursday 7th June 2018

Coaching, a perspective from Peter Brooke

It’s National Coaching Week but what is coaching and why is it important? Whether it’s known as coaching, support, development, training or education, there are many different terms that can mean the same thing depending on your perspective. However, the outcome is often, that someone a coach has supported, has been inspired and improved their personal skills relevant to their abilities and this is the key part.

‘Whether it’s guiding people that are dipping their toe into sport and physical activity for the first time, accompanying others on a journey of improvement or supporting talented athletes, coaches help individuals progress faster and further than they could on their own.’ Sport England quite rightly states. It’s not complicated and is driven by passionate people who want to get the best out of those they help.

Peter Brooke, Development Officer

A coach’s job certainly isn’t easy, meeting the needs of individuals whilst often delivering to a team can be a challenge. As a youngster growing up, like anyone with a passion for the outdoors, I tried many different sports and on reflection, my enjoyment was down to my first coach. A gentleman called Jimmy Greening who inspired me to learn and become the best player I could. Together with his assistants and the committee of the club, he led a welcoming atmosphere at training and when it was time to compete, knew just what to say. Even now when I go back or see someone still involved at the club, they’ve always got a smile on their faces. In my time we won plenty of matches, cups and the league, but it was the training I have very fond memories of. This got me thinking what made Jimmy great? For me it was a few keys areas;

  • He was a good listener,
  • He was firm and knowledgeable,
  • He respected everyone’s views,
  • He constructively challenged and made it fun,
  • But more importantly he enjoyed what he did and it showed.

Looking closely at Orienteering, take club nights, a great concept that can really bring a club together and support those both just starting out or have been involved longer. Having visited several club nights since I joined the sport, it was great to see the camaraderie of everyone, the passion the coaches and members have for the sport, but more importantly the enjoyment of everyone there. Whether it was only a dozen members or over 40 attending, they felt so professionally run, delivered specifically to the needs and desires of the members, with many others chipping in supporting the lead coach.

With coaching and many other areas of life, I think we can often get caught overthinking. It’s easy to think of the obstacles and challenges but surely we should identify the end objective and work out how we get there? Coaching can be as simple as we make it, we don’t need to make it complicated and as long as it’s enjoyable and the individual improves and reaches their potential we’ve achieved our goal.

Yes, training techniques and methods evolve, but we can’t lose sight of why people join clubs in the first place. I asked a group recently, why did you join the club and why you come to training sessions? The response, “I enjoy the sport, catching up with others and I want to be the best I can” I agree that they’ll always be other reasons people join clubs, but surely having a great support/ coaching environment will not only improve individuals but attract new members and grow the club. So, my final question to think about is this, yes clubs work so hard to put on high-quality events, but do we sometimes not appreciate the impact club coaching can also bring? And if the honest answer is yes, what could you do as a club to implement something that that will bring value to your club?

What does coaching mean to you? There’s still time to add your opinions to the Orienteering Forum discussion on Coaching and let us know what is important to you.


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You only have a few days to add your comments and we’ll summarise and highlight the responses shortly and in the next edition of the Coaching E-newsletter.