Developing self…blue sky thinking

The associated research literature highlights a number of consistent themes within the concept of coach development, elements within the learning trajectory of the coach that perhaps separate the expert from the rest. For example, the presence of an athletic history, the ability to plan, rich and in-depth declarative and procedural knowledge, and emotional intelligence. This is by no means an exhaustive list, however, it does give me pause for thought. I wonder where we would measure ourselves? How we would measure our degree’s of effectiveness? would the results reflect an expert coach?

As I sat in my home office last night painting a picture of the regional squads second practice, due to unfold this weekend, I scribbled, drew and scrolled in an attempt to inform and shape our date together. It was but a moment that I began to consider learning, firstly, the development of the players and what it was we asked of them within such a short space of time. But then I moved to my own learning, to my development as a basketball coach. I had achieved some of what Côté referred to as criteria for excellence. I had come a long way, and yet I continue to know I still have a way to travel, experiences to collate and knowledge to acquire. The question is, where does this position me now? Where should I turn to next?

Alongside my planning for practice I started to sculpt my professional development plan, the things I wish for my coach self to improve. Unfortunately, I have to be measured in my aspirations, the pressure of not working full time in my preferred trade must win over my dreams. Family, the need to balance competing responsibilities across my multiple self’s does not allow me to be frivolous. I agree to attendance at a conference, engagement with a workshop and enrolment on to a programme of study. But I want more. The concept of mentoring continues to pester me, to intrigue my curious self and pull at my time resources. I am both aware and vulnerable to the absence, knowing that I do not have access to a master coach, one that I can communicate with, who will challenge my practice, inform my thinking and begin to steer my advancement. I have previously experienced some of the trappings of such a relationship, having worked alongside coaches and observed practice as a means of informing my apprenticeship. However, this now falls to the side as not enough. In my academic career, I once enjoyed the company of a professional mentor, somebody that I spoke with once a month, that helped me to construct focus and work to meet my own learning objectives. I now seek this within my coaching practice.

Looking forward I see a relationship, one that I am yet to identify, but one that I know must come into being. Why? I am very aware that some of our bigger clubs have an internal mechanism, a means of supporting each other, a structure that presents a master coach to the developing flock as a guide. Others utilise various social media to connect and engage in meaningful discourse that seeks to elevate their practice through cognition and reflection. My empty spaces and lack of debate (I once referred to as coaching conversations) leaves me behind, shut out and under-developed.

In short, we may debate the application of the term professional to the ranks of coaching, and perhaps more so within the boundaries of basketball in the UK. However, I am increasingly aware of the swell, the mass of young coaches that are educating themselves, plying their trade and eager to move into the fray. If I am to continue to construct meaning, to share space and time to develop my concept of Independent Thinking Athletes  within the game of basketball I must continue to develop. My blue sky thinking must become a reality and I must continue to strive to be effective in all that I do within my practice.

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