A return to all things coaching

‘Return to play’ has become a popular term associated with the reappearance of everything we used to know and enjoy. In fact, the phrase can be found in much of the guidance on offer from the various bodies tasked with governance and development. As we continue towards an active state, I wonder what our ‘return to coaching’ looks like? As previously discussed here, we have enjoyed a new way of doing, one that embraced the wealth of online content that was suddenly made available to us. Originally, the approach served to fill a void, that of actually coaching and turned our attentions to sharing ideas, the lived experience and upskilling our knowledge base. However, it then morphed into something more, the opportunity to learn, share and debate content, ways of doing and philosophical positions of interest in a large community of practice. Coach education could be seen to have evolved into a coach facing resource.

The terms associated with upskilling our coach community are contested and often make for confusing reading. This said, coach development, education and learning can all be considered, in the broadest terms, as a way to improve what we do. The idea of learning was previously conceptualised into three fields, a framework that continues to be employed in many academic journals and text today. The terms formal, informal and nonformal (Coombs & Ahmed, 1974) are accepted as forms of learning engaged in to improve our practice. I submit that much of what we have engaged with over the ‘COVID months’ is perhaps not as meaningful or appropriate to our coaching environments as we first thought. What do I mean? I have personally taken a great deal from the lived experience-based podcasts that I have listened to over the past several months, however, I question how they will reinstall my sense of coaching confidence and self-efficacy.

As I continue to ‘fight’ through my own deficiency in a bid to improve my practice and move to a state of effectiveness I see a very different landscape in front of me. I see young basketball players exhibiting very different levels of confidence, motivation, and a reduced willingness to engage in the same way. A diminished level of skill. And, perhaps most surprising of all, I see a declining pledge to all that we do. Perhaps this is due to the time away and the formation of new ideas, connections, and commitments. With this in mind, I find myself searching for new ways of doing the relationships that have been central to my practice. New ways of delivery, and new ways of supporting the young people in my charge. In short, there is a ‘gap’ in my practice, a void that leaves me disconnected from all things coaching and I wish to ‘fill’ it, to regain my ‘mojo’ and continue from the point at which I left.

This weekend sees a ‘return to play’, actual competition (Central Venue League). I wonder what the impact of our forced hiatus will be. What will our behaviours look like? Will we be overly instructional and directive. Will our coaching be free from the guiding light of the emotional intelligence spotlight as we ‘fight’ to demonstrate our value and regain a sense of our coach identity. I suspect that there will be evidence to support the presence of ‘over coaching’, that many of us will try to ‘sprint’ to our ‘old’ coaching selves in a bid to exonerate our own ontological sense of being. I am just not that sure that the results of such behaviour will be positive. In fact, who knows what the weekend will bring. I certainly do not have all, or even some of the answers. What I have is a nervousness, one that I am sure I will overcome very quickly, but one that is there, nevertheless.

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