As the year ends, the learning continues

Coaching the GAAme firmly believe that learning and development as a coach is an on-going process and should never end, with opportunities for formal, non-formal and informal learning year round.

However, at the end of each season, Coaches are prone to putting all the gear and equipment into the shed and closing the book on another years coaching. Juvenile teams may do this after their end of year blitz, whilst teenage and adult teams shut up shop after their final knock out game of the season. Coaching and mentoring is then put to the back of the mind until January when everything kicks into gear again.

Are Coaches missing an opportunity to continue their learning and development through non formal and informal methods? This learning can begin with an end of year review. A meeting with fellow mentors can form one of these reviews. Finding out what went well, what didn’t go so well, areas to improve on and if you could go back 12 months, what would you have done differently? These form some of the questions that make up the discussion and feedback.

Depending on the age of the group (16+), a players meeting discussing similar topics and also finding out what areas they felt they could improve on, things they will do differently next year etc. And for younger groups (6-15 years) a joint parent/player review. This could be done in the form of a focus group with parents in small groups discussing topics and players doing similar. Just because the children are young, doesn’t mean they should not be listened to. They are the people that will eventually be voting with their feet, so it is important to know their thoughts and opinions.
Whilst, you may not agree or like everything that is said in the reviews, it is important to not view anything potentially negative as direct criticism but instead view it as an opportunity to become a better coach and learn from the feedback. On the flipside, if everything is largely positive, this does not mean you can sit back and relax, “Just because something works, does not mean it cannot be improved”.
The by product of doing reviews is that those who take part, will embrace the sense of ownership that is bestowed upon them. Rather than complain when things aren’t going well, they are now part of the solution. This type of parental/player involvement can be a very powerful ally.
As a mentor and coach, this is where the learning and development continues. Rather than starting from scratch next January with a blank page, you can start from an advanced position. Can you build on what you learnt and achieved this year and take all that on board for next year. Arsene Wenger used the analogy of how building a house is similar to building a player. You build layer after layer at different times of the players development. Coaching is the same. Last year, you put down the foundation, this year you are building the ground floor. Be proactive in your planning and build long term targets for long term gains.

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