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Tag Archive: reflective practice

  1. 7 Things I Learnt In 2016

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    Reflective practice

    educational gymnastics

    I learnt from these 3 gymnasts

    I try to learn more than 7 things a week, let alone a whole year, but part of reflective practice is being disciplined and accountable. Limiting myself to listing the 7 things in a year helps focus my mind and stop readers from being bored.

    Speaking on the phone to Mark Sheppard yesterday (whom I last saw in 2014), I said to him “I haven’t been standing still for the last 3 years Mark!” as we discussed formative versus summative fitness testing. “I wouldn’t expect you to” he replied.

    Conversations with coaches like Mark, attending conferences like GAIN, reading, observing, listening to the athletes I coach and my own training are all fertile breeding grounds for ideas and reflections. Although I am unable to stop getting older, I am able to stay feeling young by continually learning. I may well be learning more at 47 than I did at 17.

    1.The older I get, the less I know.

    I am continually dumbfounded by the way in which young people deal in absolutes: “This session will work, 100% for sure” or “The hamstrings don’t go below your knee, they are in the middle part of the back of your leg“. These were two quotes given to me by different cyclists. No room for middle ground here.

    I seem to be telling athletes who come to train with me “Maybe” or “perhaps” or “we’ll try it and see” a lot more than I did 10 years ago. Maybe it is the short attention spans created by too much screen time, or maybe it is the ability to shut out people who have different opinions from us, but young people (and some coaches) are rarely able to dig deeper than asking “is yoga good” and expecting a one word answer.

    2. Getting under the bar is hard for most athletes.

    Maybe I knew this already, but it has come into focus this year as many of our weightlifters can pull high, but struggle to get under the bar in the snatch. Thanks to Keith Morgan who reminded me of these exercises.

    reflective practice3. Predicting 1 mile times in children.

    The best indicators are faster 50m sprint time,taller and lower body fat percentage compared to peers. Too much emphasis is spent on trying to “train for the test” by running further and slower. Children who eat healthily and are very active will run faster over distances. We need to allow them to do more of this.

    4. Summative versus formative testing.

    I got this from “Physical education for children: a focus on the teaching process.” (thanks Greg Thompson). In a rush to replicate “elite sport“, children are often subjected to the dreaded “battery of fitness tests“. However, they are normally in a developmental stage and are either learning the exercises, or still growing. In this case any testing should be formative: assessing how they move through good observation skills.

    Summative testing is the common feature now, even taught in schools for children to perform on other children. It measures the absolute and assumes that the skill is robust enough to be tested. This is suitable for athletes experienced at that activity, rather than just experienced athletes.

    For example, testing back squat on International Rugby players is fine as they are experienced in the weight room. Doing the same test on 12 year old girls who look like new born foals when they try and squat is completely inappropriate.

    fascial chain

    Fascia

    5. “Fascia is like a onesie for your body

    So said Dr. Homayun Gharavi at breakfast one morning at GAIN. After reading “Anatomy Trains” earlier in the year (thanks Joe P) I became much more aware of how fascia works in our body.  At 47, I need to get moving more and more to counteract the influence of gravity which is beating me into a slumping Trogladyte at every opportunity.

    The connections that fascia have, and how they adapt to continual postures and positions is something I have really found interesting. My training now includes getting into as many different varied and continued patterns as possible.

    6. Rudolf Laban was a genius.

    This Hungarian immigrant spent about 20 years in the UK where he had a big influence on teachers through his observations of movement. This started in dance, but was then applied to other disciplines such as gymnastics, which is where I became interested.

    rudolf laban

    Rudolf Laban

    Unfortunately, all his good work seems to have been forgotten, in a race for schools to either just talk about p.e. or to play competitive sport (I see this first hand in Devon, ironically as Laban spent much time at Dartingotn School near Totnes).

    Nowadays you will hear much talk in coaching circles about “constraints led coaching” as if it is something ground breaking. Laban was using guided discovery and environmental and task constraints 70 years ago. The work by Logsdon, Mauldon, Layson, Morison et al. built on this and created “Educational Gymnastics”.

    I am using a lot of their work and approaches not only in my gymnastics coaching, but in everything else I do (works wonders on the fascia too). I am standing on the shoulders of Giants. 

    7. If you have to measure one thing, measure attendance.

    reflective practice

    3 of our best attendees with lanyards

    I got this from Steve Magness at GAIN. I took it on board and have been diligent in recording and rewarding attendance publicly. Every athlete who attends 15 sessions gets a club lanyard: from the youngest gymnast to our Senior Internationals. As John Wooden says “I will give you the treatment you earn and deserve“.

    This has really highlighted who turns up regularly, including many “ordinary” athletes, but who continue to improve. If they keep this up, who knows where they might end? But, they are getting into good habits.

    The downside of this has been parents having a pop at me when their children don’t turn up and they don’t get a lanyard: they can’t be bought, they have to be earnt!

    Thanks for reading and helping me with my reflective practice. If you have anything special that you have learnt in 2016, please add a comment below.

    I look forward to doing better coaching and learning more in 2017. Merry Christmas to you all.

  2. Coaching Philosophy: Book Reviews

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    When delivering strength and conditioning coaching courses, we always discuss coaching philosophy and how to develop a club culture. Two books I have read this year have helped with this process, both by NFL coaches.  Here is a brief review of both.

    Win Forever by Pete Carroll (recommended by Mike Bahn)

    win foreverA frank and revealing tale of how Pete Carroll developed his coaching philosophy. Fired by the New York Jets and the New England Patriots, Carroll has gone on to be a very successful college coach at USC and is now with the Seattle Seahawks.

    His philosophy was developed in response to adversity, rather than through unparalleled success from the start. As you can see from this picture, the philosophy starts with some simple rules: no whining, no excuses and be early.

     

    It then expands into style of play and practice and beliefs.

    When these foundations are in place, the focus on competing emerges with a “relentless pursuit of a competitive edge”.

    Where the book might be useful to coaches and people outside of sport is in the application of this philosophy and making the athlete accountable.

    coaching philosophyIt’s the individual himself who ultimately is the only one who has the power to develop his fullest potential.

    Getting that across to players is a constant occupation. You have to continually encourage people to the point where they feel empowered to call the shots that will position them to become the best they can be. It’s not any one specific thing but rather than an ongoing process of showing them what they’re capable of.”

    I find this is the differentiation between talk and action when trying to implement a philosophy.

    Carroll goes on to use words like discipline, effort and diligence in a reminder of what it takes to get it done.

    Two years ago a lot of coaches were waving “Legacy” around as a good book, I wonder how many of them have implemented and stuck to a coaching philosophy since?

    You Win in the Locker Room First by Jon Gordon and Mike Smith

    you win in the locker room firstI have lent this book to several other coaches as a really quick read with good ideas. Mike Smith was coach of the Atlanta Falcons and Jon Gordon has written “The energy bus”.

    Together they have written a simple but very clear guide to building a winning team by establishing the right culture.

    Culture drives expectations and beliefs. Expectations and beliefs drive behaviours. Behaviours drive habits and habits drive the future.”

    There are 8 chapters, with the first 7 each expanding on a word beginning with C that underpins the culture. It is a bit of an artificial premise, but helps with recall.img_20161018_104747

    For example, the chapter on consistency explains why this is important in coaching.

    If you are not consistent, you will lose the trust your team has in you. When you lose trust, you lose the locker room.”

    Players and other coaches need to know that you can be relied upon rather than erratic. Consistently being humble and hungry are important whether you are winning championships or trying to avoid relegation.

    Consistency applies to players too who are expected to be stable personalities rather than moody (or at least maintain stable behaviours around their team mates).

    The book is littered with anecdotes from the NFL to illustrate the points made in each chapter. Good practice and problem areas are covered, Smith is very good at sharing his shortcomings or mistakes that he has made. This makes for an entertaining and enlightening read.

    The chapters have bullet point summaries, plus easily remembered quotes, which make re reading and revising easier.

    To be a great leader, coach and team member you must be more than involved- you must be committed. Your team has to know that you are committed to them before they will commit to you.”

    Highly recommended.

  3. Socrates the Coach

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    How to improve your coaching

    socrates the coach

    Socrates coaching

    The following quote comes from “ “The Consolations of Philosophy“” by Alain de Botton and is a discourse between Socrates and his friend Crito.

    Socrates: When a man… is taking (his training) seriously, does he pay attention to all praise and criticism and opinion indiscriminately, or only when it comes from the one qualified person, the actual doctor or trainer?

    Crito: Only when it comes from the one qualified person. 

    Socrates: Then he should be afraid of the criticism and welcome the praise of the one qualified person, but not those of the general public. 

    Crito: Obviously. 

    Socrates: he ought to regulate his actions and exercises and eating and drinking by the judgement of his instructor, who has expert knowledge, not by opinions of the rest of the public.  

    Questioning the status quo

    Socrates challenged the then prevailing Athenian beliefs by looking at each of them logically. Just because something has always been done a certain way, by the majority of the population, does not mean that it is correct. 

    Socrates compared living without thinking systematically about what you are doing and why as trying to make a pot or shoe just from having a hunch. You have to know the actual process behind making a shoe or a pot, it doesn’t just happen. The same approach should be taken to perform your actions in life. 

    Think about this before you undertake your next Coaching or training session- why are you doing what you are doing?

  4. Pat Riley quote

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    “To have long term success as a coach or in any position of leadership, you have to be obsessive in some ways.” Pat Riley, of the Miami Heat, is back in the news again after signing Lebron James.

    What a massive amount of media coverage this trade got- a slow news time in the US. It will be interesting to see whether James lives up the hype, he couldn’t carry the Cleveland team, or raise the level of the players around him.  Surely truly great players do that?

  5. 10 Commandments of Great Coaching: Wayne Goldsmith

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    The 10 Commandments of Great Coaching

    wayne goldsmith

    Sports Coaching Brain

    Wayne Goldsmith is a Coach Educator based in Australia known as the Sports Coaching Brain. Here are some key points on how to be a great coach.

    1. Creativity and innovation are the core skills of great coaches in this century.
    2. Continuous improvement is everything – success is a moving target.
    3. Engagement is the driving force of success: athletes, coaches, management, staff, families, supporters…everyone engaged completely and comprehensively in your program.
    4.  Never compromise on your values, virtues or beliefs for the sake avoiding conflict or to gain political advantage…it will come back to bit you sometime in the future.
    5. wayne goldsmith

      Coach with passion

       Coach with passion, energy and enthusiasm – your athletes deserve it.

    6.  Never, ever give up: persevere no matter what the obstacles are in your way – no matter how difficult it seems – never give up.
    7. Be an agent of change and ignore people who use the worst eight words in sport “that’s not the way we do it here – people who win are unique, are different, make changes, take risks and then the rest of the world has to finds ways of catching up with them.
    8. Be yourself – believe in yourself: you have to do this. No one wins by copying or by trying to be someone else or by trying to be something they are not. Be yourself.
    9. Avoid anyone who talks in absolutes: there are no “nevers”, no “always”, no “musts” – there is only learning, growth, creativity, innovation, change and passion. There is no one way of doing anything.
    10. Regularly take an honest look at yourself and your program and identify ways of enhancing the performance of both.
    In the end, coaching is a personal decision to be the best you can be – now and in the future and to pass on what you learn on to others so they might in turn realise their potential as athletes and as human beings. 
    WAYNE GOLDSMITH FEBRUARY 2010