So, it’s been a long journey. I’ve had my arm twisted and threatened to be given a “granddad” by my trusted co-host of the Opposites Attack podcast, Just Deacon. So, as many of you know I have experience in football management, not major experience, but some experience. In this, what will be a daily blog, I will talk about my coaching and managerial experience in football on a weekly basis. A breakdown of how I got into coaching and eventually into management, a coaching/management autobiography if you must.
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Where did it all begin? The standard question that I’d be asked in an interview should I ever happen to make it as a famous coach. Really inventive stuff, must that the reporters’ ages to come up with questions like that. As for me answering the question, I’m not completely sure how I got into coaching, I would even really say that I “got into” coaching. It more just happened.
I come from a sporty upbringing. My Mum, a former Coventry City Ladies player and passionate follower of her local Coventry City FC. My Granddad, whom I unfortunately never got to meet was also a passionate follower and participant in many sports ranging from football to cricket. He also enjoyed coaching the local Scouts football team. I am always told that if the TV that lived in my old Nan and Granddad’s house was picked up and shaken that a plethora of ball would have fallen out.
This upbringing obviously had an effect on me and I just happened to end up joining a football at the age of seven. I mentioned it in the first Opposites Attack podcast, I am not the best of footballers. That much was evident in my years of playing Sunday league football. My Mum tells me now that I’m able to take the statement that I spent more time looking up at a sky or avoiding the ball probably through fear of making a mistake. During the years playing Sunday league football, I’d say now that the coaches that I had allowed me to create my own coaching philosophy now. Then coaches that I had could probably see that I wasn’t the best player, but, I have always been a big believer in fairness. At the grassroots level of football, children just want to play. Could the same be said for me? Well, that is not a question that I could answer.
In my opinion, I was treated unfairly. Even though I was ever present at training and always at matches on time, I was constantly put on the bench with very limited game time. However, other players that did not come to training, turned up late, if at all were given full games or more game time than me. Whilst I understand the need to win, that level of football is about fun and I was not having fun. My final game of football came when I wasn’t very old, but old enough to continue playing if I was given the right guidance. The team was called Binley Woods, I was subbed off not long into a game, ended up getting frustrated and well, decided I needed to contemplate things by climbing a tree. I remember the bike ride come with my Mum, myself crying with the knowledge that I may have let my Mum down. My Mum was, I can imagine a great footballer and she wanted me to be competent at least. I decided that I wanted to stop playing and my Mum accepted it.
As soon as I got into coaching, I vowed that I would be firm but fair, unlike the football coaches. So, you could say that the beginning of my coaching experience was gaining experience from what was in my opinion, bad grassroots coaches.
P.S – I should note that not all coaches/managers have been as bad as it seems in this blog. There is one particular coach that stands out to me. He was one who defined fairness and gave all players a fair amount of playing time regardless of their quality.
It’s fair to say that many coaches draw upon their own playing experience when they start their own coaching. In my previous blog, I mentioned that I vowed to coach in a manner that would be firm but fair. In my first (sort of) coaching position came during my first year at university when I would assist with afterschool sports clubs at my former secondary school. During the summer half term, I would go back to the school to coach the afterschool cricket club.
You’re probably wondering why I was coaching cricket instead of football. After I stopped playing football, I started playing cricket. After a short time in the game, I was playing men’s cricket on a Sunday morning. Unfortunately, I found myself in a similar situation to the one I found myself in when I was playing football. I was a lot better cricketer than I was a footballer. But, still coaches had their favourites and I was not one of them. I never sought praise, but as you learn on any coaching course, praise can be something that motivates a person to continue in the sport they’re participating in. I felt unappreciated and outsted by the coach. At a young age, I was invited to a trial to play in the country cricketer world cup, I was successful on the trail and would play in the team that won the tournament. I have fond memories of bowling the last over in the final where one of my club coaches was on the microphone, the coach failed to mention my name once. Something which to this day, I do not understand. That coach is not a coach I look up to. The coach for the team in the tournament was one that I looked up to, he saw my talents and allowed me to use them effectively. I was not the best of batsmen, but I was a fairly effective bowler.
I eventually moved to another team where I was more appreciated by the coach and by the club as I started playing for the club’s men’s team after a short time of being at the club. Playing men’s cricket at a young age was an experience and one that I will never forget, it made me tough. The same could possibly be said for young footballers that play for men’s football team at a young age. Things started going bad at this club when coaches started changing and my opinion of certain players diminished. I was playing for two different age groups as well as the men’s team. But, as the team changed, I was again ousted and fell out of favour because, in my opinion, my face did not fit.
My personality is very unique, I the sort of person that analyses a situation before, during and after it has happened. I’m quiet, but can be sociable when I want to be. I have a passion to make a change. When I was given the chance to go back to my secondary school to coach the afterschool cricket club, I wanted to remember all of my experiences with previous coaches and remember how they made me feel and as an effect coach using a different approach that is firm but fair.
From Year 9, I knew that I wanted to work with children in some capacity. In Year 9, I was still playing cricket under the coaches that have given me the motivation and the passion to coach/teach children today. My time coaching the afterschool cricket club was the first step in what turned out to be a long journey for me, it motivated me and affirmed with me that coaching/teaching was the pathway that I wanted to go down in terms of building a career for myself.
“P.E. is the embodiment of holistic education. Education of a whole person, in mind, body and spirit.”
On a global scale, PE’s fit within the National Curriculum has been of some debate for many years. The main issues for the fit of PE is the common use of word switch meaning that PE is perceived to be solely the education of the physical. It is hard to argue with this when the most recent Physical Education National Curriculum mentions physicality numerous times but fails to mention learning beyond that of the education of the physical that pupils can learn within PE.
You’re probably wondering what the hell the above has to do with coaching? Well, in the previous blog I mentioned that having gained the experience coaching with the afterschool cricket club I affirmed with myself what I wanted to do as a career. I wanted to work with children in a sporting capacity but wanted it to be within an educational setting. My favourite subject at school was Physical Education, I was fascinated in the ways which teachers used physical activity to enhance learning. From Year 9, I knew that I wanted to teach but knew that it would be a long journey to achieve that.
In my personal opinion, coaching and teaching share similar characteristics. I’ve been lucky enough to experience both and have used that experience to assist my own coaching and teaching.
My journey to becoming a teacher started at school when I decided to take Physical Education as both a GCSE and A-Level. I was fortunate enough to not only have enjoyed PE as a subject but I was also interested in the academical side of Physical Education. Learning about how the body works, how numerous factors affect coaching/teaching from the perspective of both the coach/teacher and the participant/pupil. When I finished school, I went to university to delve deeper into the academical side of coaching by firstly undertaking a Higher National Diploma in Sports Coaching where I was able to study coaching in more detail. This course enabled me to understand more about the different aspects of coaching. After completion of that course, I topped up to the BSc in Physical Education where my ambitions on becoming a Physical Education teaching where put into full motion.
I have mentioned in previous blog’s that my ambition to work with children in some capacity started during school when I wanted to understand how teachers were able to get me and other pupils to learn. It’s a clear fact that pupils learn in different ways so, it was fascinated to me how teachers could teach could teach the same objective to a variety of pupils.
During my A-Levels, I applied to attend university, my initial aim was to start an undergraduate programme but unfortunately, I missed out on that by not earning enough UCAS points. That did not stop me from getting to University, my backup plan was to complete a Higher National Diploma method. I was accepted onto that course and started in 2011. On that course, I was able to study modules that enabled to to delve deeper into the science behind sports coaching. When people mention science and coaching they get very twitchy, but let’s not forget a university is an academic setting so for simplicity, just ignore that science is mention. It’s a mere addition to the craft that aids coaching.
To this day, I still have my assessment available to ready. I remember the first grade that I received on the course for a coaching report, an A- with some excellent feedback.
- A very good level of analysis for the fundamentals of sport for the three categories. You have utilised a range of sources to discuss your knowledge.
- You have also demonstrated and evaluated your performance for these sports to an excellent level. You have taken relevant assumptions and given several valid reasons outlining significant justifications. All supported with an excellent range of research.
- Your ability to structure and write for an academic purpose is also to a good standard.
That grade alone gave me the confidence that I had to ability to write at an academic level. However, there is a massive difference between being able to write about coaching and be able to actually coach. In all honesty, this course was not aimed at making a person a better coach. It was more aimed at helping a person to better break down the different aspects of coaching from the perspective of both the coach and the participants. If a coach is able to understand their own methods and the social and technical skills shown by their participants the journey to become a great coach is not that far away.
This course also taught me that a coach is not just a person that enables people to participate in sport. A coach is much more, they can change a person’s whole outlook on life by doing the most simple things. The technical side of coaching and the academical side of coaching need not be discussed with a coaches participants, but they should be used in a manner that makes a coach a person that people want to work with and a person that people remember. With that in mind, I became particularly interested in the psychology of coaching from both the aspect of the coach and the coaches’ participants. To this day, psychology has played a massive role in the way I coach. I use my own experiences to help me with my approach to coaching. Remembering how my coaches made me feel. When was I upset at a coach, when did a coach impress me? These are all questions that go through my head when I’m coaching, those experiences are used to ensure that when I’m coaching all my participants are first and foremost enjoying themselves. If there is no enjoyment, then, in my opinion, you’re doing it wrong.