Coaching – it’s not just about sport!

Any good sports coaching manual will tell you that coaches need to be prepared to support children through the physical, mental, technical, tactical, personal and social challenges that lay ahead.Here’s five of our best ‘coping as coaches’ examples – all true stories and names have, of course, been changed!

The physical – moving swiftly on…

At a news-share with peers (aged 7), James described in detail THE best theme park ride in the entire world.The ups, the downs, who got wet, who screamed and the show finale that resulted in sharing his unforgettable excitement with an unrepeatable mention of what happened to his ‘sausage’ as a result. News promptly finished and the football match resumed rather more quickly than usual. (On being told the story, his dad laughed out loud and said, ‘Wait till his mum hears that!’)

The mental – appreciating random logic

On returning from a school trip, the children were excited to share their dinosaur bones experience.Not to be outdone, Dylan (from a different school) declared that on a recent holiday in Rhyl he had discovered a zebra skull.When asked how he knew it was a zebra skull, he took a moment to think and with a very proud, knowledgeable glow he announced: ‘Because it had zebra teeth.’Everyone nodded their appreciation.

The technical – the money’s mine!

Over the years, Steven had built up sufficient confidence that on graduating from his local sports classes (aged 11) he asked to return as an ‘assistant coach’.The coach agreed with Steven’s parents on a pocket money ‘rate’ for his weekend contributions and was faced with an unexpected end-of-term instruction from Steven himself: ‘Could you make the cheque out to me, please?’.Money earned by parents stays with parents until you are coerced out of it as pocket money.Money ‘earned’ by children stays with children!

The tactical – expect the unexpected when asking a simple question

After word of the arrival of a new sibling for Maddie (aged 4), she was asked:’What did mummy have?’. She paused at first, then adopted the ‘what-kind-of-question-is-that?’ face to deliver her response: ‘A baby.’Thinking of another way to extract the same information, she was asked: ‘What’s the baby’s name?’.She answered: ‘Chloe.’On congratulating Maddie’s mum on the birth of Chloe, it transpired that Maddie had wanted a sister but had reluctantly welcomed Andrew into the world.Check, check and double check the ‘facts’ provided by the disgruntled…

The personal and social

Katie and Helen marched in and, unprompted, announced: ‘We got told off at pre-school today.’After describing their ‘messing about’ they were asked how they felt about being told off.Adopting a teacher-ly face and tone, they said simultaneously: ‘We’re not proud of ourselves’.Never underestimate the facial expressions and language a child will pick up from you!

Every coach’s approach is different but the underlying strategy is the same – to guide children the best way that you can and to have fun together along the way.