There’s no need to brag….
Sometimes it feels that as coaches, we get too obsessed about looking good in front of our peers.
I remember a couple of years back, attending a Chance2Shine workshop.
In the Q&A section, one person raised a perfectly reasonable question: “What should we do if it rains?” It’s a valid point, that rain could put the spanner in the works of a carefully planned session. Not many schools have adequate space to do a meaningful activity, that stays fun and inclusive…….
“I successfully coached 30 kids in a badminton court”, one twenty-something man, sporting a Surrey jacked, exclaimed.
OK. I’m listening.
“Well, it’s just about organizing the space into small groups. In one quarter, I played continuous cricket, in another quarter I had a catching game……
……a game of hand hockey in the third quarter, and in the fourth…”
Oh did you. Did you REALLY.
In conclusion, no….no you didn’t. This coach had either a) been privileged to work on behalf of the best behaved, most observant and able group on planet earth, or b) had exaggerated his story to a ludicrous degree.
Does this really help your colleagues rise to challenges? Or does it set unrealistic expectations. Many coaches around the table were newly qualified. I would argue that overstating your “solutions” only serves to intimidate inexperienced coaches.
At the other end of the spectrum….
Everything is “ridiculous”. All groups are, “too old”, “too young”, “too big”, “too small”. They, “don’t want to be here”, and “behave like animals”.
Again, there is no point lying about your situation, or saying that everything brilliant. But there is a difference between frank honesty, and simply playing a blame game. Throwing toys out of the pram is never going to make your life easier.
At least exhaust some options, seek support, or consult others for a Plan B/C, before you abandon all hope. If you don’t at least try this, your attitude will just breed resentment.
There will always be coaches who have an uncanny ability of attaching themselves to anything good……and dissociating themselves from failures.
Such coaches won’t dig in when the going gets tough.
Do you want to be a coach like that? Or do you want to be proud of all the work you do….not just those jobs where the dice were loaded in your favour?
This blog: honesty, empathy, solutions
There HAS to be a middle ground, between, “I can do anything if I set my mind to it” (hopelessly unrealistic) and , “the kids just don’t want to be here this is ridiculous”.
This blog is intended as a frank, honest, reflection on coaching, as a career or volunteer. Warts and all.
To be honest, nearly every job in community coaching involves some adversity. Groups are large, support may be inexperienced (or unwilling). You tend to be delivering sessions at awkward times, after a long day, when tempers and concentration spans will inevitably be strained.
You are fighting to change the tide of opinion. The onus is on you to convince children that cricket is the sport to play….not the other way round. Be prepared for a battle.
Finding a way forwards
It is VITAL to discuss the difficulties that you will have to confront. And to get through these, you need pragmatic solutions, not ridiculously fanciful ones.
You have to be able to reflect on your own performance. Be truthful to yourself; have you done the best you could – sometimes there genuinely is nothing you could have done to change your fortunes – or, looking back, is there anything you’d do differently.
In my opinion, the best suited people to this job, will criticize themselves a little more than is justified. But as a result, they are more likely to turn tough situations around positively.
In an ideal world, these coaches will have a tight network of colleagues – to reassure them that they are doing a good job, to talk to, and discuss potential solutions with.