Getting into coaching - first hand experiences

Getting into coaching - first hand experiences

The Coaching Assistant course sees a wide range of people getting their first coaching qualification as well as building skills and confidence that they can then bring to coaching athletes. It is also a course many clubs make the most of in building their coaching capacity. We went along to one Coaching Assistant course to see what goes on, meet the attendees and find out more about why they wanted to do the course and what they got from it.

The Coaching Assistant course is often popular with parents of young athletes who want to get more involved in the sport as well as with people who have a background as an athlete. These athletes may be looking to widen their involvement in the sport, transition to coaching or be returning to the sport after a break.

But we found that there are plenty of other people getting involved and that the motivations and goals can be quite varied, as well as very personal to them.

The course we went along to was held midweek as it was part of an initiative by Cambridge & Coleridge AC to get local students in further and higher education involved with their club. This boosts the number of coaches available in the club and gives development opportunities for the students.

Two of those on the course were Helen Llewelyn and Tom Irish. Helen was offered the opportunity to get involved in coaching after becoming involved in training at Cambridge & Coleridge AC. She said, “The course was fantastic. I was worried about attending as I thought I would be the least experienced member of the team (which I was), however, this didn’t matter as England Athletics has inclusivity at its heart. Everyone on the course contributed ideas, encouraged each other and threw themselves into the activities; which made them a lot of fun.

“I feel I have gained an incredible amount of confidence as a result of being involved in this course. We have been given a strong set of skills to enable us to run sessions, time was spent explaining why techniques have developed the way they have (energy systems, physiology etc.) and why we adopt certain coaching styles for different situations. It was also great to talk to other volunteers about strategies for dealing with the occasional less enthusiastic teenager and how to re-engage them in the sport.”

Tom is a student at Anglia Ruskin and his background in sport saw him involved in athletics in the horizontal jumps before then becoming more involved in basketball. As well as being enthusiastic about sport Tom is also keen to build his expertise to be able to coach in a club and school environments encourage other deaf people to become involved in sport and fulfil their potential.

Tom said he was mindful people on the course would have different experiences and backgrounds but he found everyone friendly and supportive. He said, “The course was very practical, easy flowing and everyone was able to share ideas and share their knowledge in sports.”

Across the two days the attendees were introduced to aspects of technical coaching that apply to running, jumping and throwing activities. A lot of this was done in a practical environment with those on the course applying the principles being introduced to a number of practical situations in group-based activities. The sessions included regular feedback from the tutors and discussions of ideas and experiences with other people on the course, as people not only learned new skills but explored how best to apply them in a coaching environment. The group could also catch their breath as they went through reviews of what they had been through as well as introductions and discussion on new topics.

Integrated into the activities and sessions were building an understanding of fundamental movement skills, delivering warm up and cool downs, coaching through fun, safe and enjoyable games, delivering speed work and endurance based activities, understanding the mechanics of jumping and throwing and the principles of session planning, all of which were supported by the Athletics 365 App and resources.

You can read more below about:

The club’s experience – Cambridge & Coleridge

Cambridge & Coleridge AC worked with their England Athletics Education Coordinator to organise the course which was held midweek. It forms part of the work they have established in getting local students in further and higher education involved with their club. As well as people linked to Cambridge & Coleridge others also booked on the course as it was convenient for them.

Neil Costello explained Cambridge & Coleridge AC had established links with both Cambridge Regional College and Anglian Ruskin University over recent years. With the College this came about via the parent of an athlete at the club. With the latter this has been built through the University’s sports department which identifies students who want to help out at the athletics club, build their practical coaching skills and gain a qualification. The club pays for the qualification in return for the student committing to coaching at the club. Neil explained, “We recruit them with the university – we have got a good link with the senior lecturer in sports development and she talks to people at induction.”

Cambridge & Coleridge then does an induction evening for the interested students which ties in with the fact that from the October half-term the young athletes at the club are training indoors. As people with a Coaching Assistant qualification need to work under the supervision of a coach with a higher qualification this makes this easy to achieve. Neil said it also makes easier to get to know the students and for members of the coaching team to get to know each other. For the first time this year the club has first year students involved and this means get longer with them.
 

My experience - Helen Llewelyn

One of those we met on the course was Helen Llewelyn. She initially became involved at Cambridge & Coleridge as she wanted to find an activity to increase her general fitness and core strength which would be enjoyable. She said, “I decided to think about what I found fun as a child and kept coming back to jumping, who doesn’t like jumping! Therefore, I approached our local athletics club to see if there were opportunities for “older beginners” and found that they were an incredibly inclusive and welcoming community of people.”

Helen then found the club was also very positive about encouraging people interested in coaching to become involved in that. Helen said, “Our club chairman mentioned coaching at our first meeting. I had never considered that it would be an opportunity open to me as a beginner. However, he said the club would fully support my training, education and qualifications and it sounded an exciting opportunity.

She said that that course means she has been able to move from being a helper with a group to taking on a coaching role in the club, “I assist in the coaching of 11-15 year olds at Cambridge and Coleridge AC. Before my qualification I would assist the event coach; being another pair of eyes and offering encouragement to the children. Now I am a little more experienced I will be able to run sessions devised by the coaches and become more invested in the children’s athletics careers.

“The great thing about training to become a coach is the weekly support and training you get from the experienced coaches. It is a fantastic opportunity to re-learn athletic skills away from the competitive environment while also helping to encourage the club’s juniors.”

Helen believes that the course was very beneficial in that it not only saw her gain a formal qualification but also helped equip her for her new role in the club environment. She said, “The course was fantastic. I was worried about attending as I thought I would be the least experienced member of the team (which I was), however, this didn’t matter as England Athletics has inclusivity at its heart. Everyone on the course contributed ideas, encouraged each other and threw themselves into the activities; which made them a lot of fun.

“I feel I have gained an incredible amount of confidence as a result of being involved in this course. We have been given a strong set of skills to enable us to run sessions, time was spent explaining why techniques have developed they way they have (energy systems, physiology etc.) and why we adopt certain coaching styles for different situations. It was also great to talk to other volunteers about strategies for dealing with the occasional less enthusiastic teenager and how to re-engage them in the sport.

“I feel confident to run the warm up sessions at my club now, which I always shied away from, this will help the club tremendously. I also now have the skills to run individual sessions which means we can offer more events to the children.

“I am new to Cambridge and joining my local athletics club has allowed me to get more involved in my community and meet some fantastic people. Working with children is also a lot of fun, it is great to see how fast they improve with a little direction. It is also a privilege to be able to be the one to offer praise and enthusiasm and see how that quickly translates into a confidence (which can be lacking during fragile teenage years!).”
 

My experience - Tom Irish

Another of those on the course was Tom Irish. Tom is a student at Anglia Ruskin and his background in sport saw him involved in athletics in the horizontal jumps before then becoming more involved in basketball. As well as being enthusiastic about sport Tom is also keen to build his expertise to be able to coach in a club and school environments encourage other deaf people to become involved in sport and fulfil their potential.

Tom said, “I always wanted to be a coach and becoming a coaching assistant is an opportunity for me to take because I was talented athlete in athletics and basketball but I was step down because of my deafness. So, thinking of it that way, I thought I can change things around by learning from people (coaches) who have the experience to develop talented athletes to the highest level, and take that experience to my “deaf community” and show them that they can reach highest level.”

Tom said he was mindful people on the course would have different experiences and backgrounds but he found everyone friendly and supportive. He said, “The course was very practical, easy flowing and everyone was able to share ideas and share their knowledge in sports.”

Tom said he enjoyed learning about the ‘fundamentals’ stage of athlete development and looking at being able to identify the problems athletes may have as they develop skills and how to address these to enable the athlete to progress.
 

More about the Coaching Assistant course

Who should go on this course?

Anyone aged 16 or over, who is interested in taking the first step into a coaching pathway and wants to understand the fundamental technical principles of coaching.

How many days will it take?

Two days (normally delivered over the course of one weekend) with no assessment.

What will I learn?

The technical coaching knowledge to underpin running, jumping and throwing activities. You’ll then learn how to apply these principles into a number of fun and exciting practical examples.

Topics covered include: Understanding fundamental movement skills, introduction to Athletics 365, delivering warm up and cool downs, coaching through fun, safe and enjoyable games, delivering speed work and endurance based activities, understanding the mechanics of jumping and throwing and the principles of session planning.

What will I be able to do?

By attending the Coaching Assistant course, you’ll have the knowledge and skills to deliver effective and engaging club sessions using task cards and session plans. Coaching Assistants will be insured to assist in the delivery of all aspects of a session whilst being supervised by a qualified Coach at the same venue.

How to find a course

Just head to www.englandathletics.org/courses

 


Registered athletes

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Opportunities for coaches

Find out about development opportunities available for coaches with England Athletics at  www.englandathletics.org/coachdev

For details of coaching qualifications see www.englandathletics.org/coaching-qualifications

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