So, I don't mean "coach yourself". I mean, "be yourself".
Recently I was reading a post on the Top 5 Coaching Tips on Connected Coaches
Most of the tips I would consider as fairly standard: “always smile”, “create a rapport”, “stay positive”, “have integrity”.
But challenging the generally positive tone was a post from David Turner (@David_T_scUK), an Athletics coach for England. He highlighted a "do not" which struck a chord for me as part of the roller derby coaching community.
“Never copy what another coach is doing, unless you know exactly why they are doing it.”
Well. Crap. Cause you know what – that’s often what we do in the roller derby community. We go to classes at RollerCon, we hire in a one-off coach, we go to the local boot camp and then we write down as much as we can and bring it back to our league and we put it into our session plans. I’ve been there.
Half the time not only are we not clear exactly why we’re doing something, but we’re not totally sure that we’ve replicated it quite right. Skaters dash between skating and scribbling crib notes into a notebook. We try and do diagrams then come home and look at them, turn the book upside down, ask our mates… “Do you remember how to set this drill up right?”
But we crack on because we think it’s got to be better than what we were doing before.
I don't mean that you should not share resources or borrow drills or pick up on an ace development programme that someone else has written! Knowledge sharing and learning is the driving principle behind Rule 56.
What I mean is don't copy blindly; make sure you understand the whats and whys before you implement them and then adjust them to suit your team. Be your own coach.
In order to be your own coach, you need to know inside and believe that your ideas and actions are valuable and worthwhile (a very important tenet in Nadia Kean's 6 principles of coaching) .
If this isn't something that comes naturally to you (and it wasn't to me, particularly when I was starting out), there are some ways that can help build your confidence.
Keep a coaching diary.
This is just like those training diaries you keep to remind yourself that you are making positive changes every session.
Having confidence in your own coaching can be hard when you don’t feel like you’ve been trained to coach properly and you’re struggling with your own skating progress (probably cause you’re in the infield coaching during most of the sessions). But if you’ve been coaching and you have seen successes, then remember those moments and trust in those. You know your team and you know how to get more from them. And you know yourself. If you're not sure, look in your coaching diary - you'll find you in there.
Find a mentor.
Maybe you’re just beginning or you struggle with how to push your league to take the next step. Find yourself a coaching mentor: someone that isn’t one of your own coaching committee or skaters. Ask questions. Do what they do for a while, knowing you have access to that information of “why” they are doing it. And then eventually, take all that learning and do your own stuff.
You might be able to find a local skater to mentor you or, if you need more dedicated time, some of the best roller derby coaches in the world are for hire.
There are people out there, go and find them!
Take a class.
With training comes not only more awareness of how to coach and what to question in your methods, but it confirms all the things we're doing right. It provides the confidence that folks need to develop their coaching.
I will never stop banging on about certifications/ qualifications/ courses until we get them (or make them ourselves). Proper ones. That are run consistently, and are recognised and are available and are actually about roller derby.