Loading ...

Coaching while social distancing: How will it work for you? | Welcome and General

ConnectedCoaches uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to the use of the cookies. For more details about cookies how we manage them and how you can delete them see the 'Use of cookies' part of our privacy policy. Click the cross to close this cookie notice. X

Home » Groups » Welcome and General » Forum » General » Coaching while social distancing: How will it work for you?
Welcome and General

Leave group:

Are you sure you want to leave this space?

Join this group:

Join this space?

Add a new tab

Add a hyperlink to the space navigation. You can link to internal or external web pages. Enter the Tab name and Tab URL. Upload or choose an icon. Then click Save.

The name that will appear in the space navigation.
The url can point to an internal or external web page.
Login to follow, share, and participate in this group.
Not a member?Join now
Posted in: General

Coaching while social distancing: How will it work for you?

Follow RSS Feed
  • Heather1972



    As you would expect, the ‘return to play’ agenda is dominating coaching discussions following the limited loosening of lockdown measures.


    The government has been setting guidelines and enforcing timelines, and policy-makers have taken up the baton, deliberating how different forms of coached activity can be phased in safely and in an appropriate manner.


    The reality, of course, is that there is no one-size-fits-all solution. Coaches must work through their own personal strategy. And so far, the return to coaching conversation has lingered on facilities without really considering the wider practicalities or needs of the coaching workforce.


    There are some big questions that still need answering.


    We must ensure that the voices of coaches on the front line are being heard: harnessing their creativity and their hands-on experience to help inform the policy-makers what methods and strategies work best.


    We want to use the ConnectedCoaches platform, and this thread, to provoke an important discussion.


    • We want you to tell us what your plans are: what practical measures and adaptations you have implemented or are considering implementing – now, during transition and upon a nationwide return to play?
    • How do you create activities where you are two metres apart that aren’t boring?
    • Have you considered RAG-rating your facilities, for example, where red areas are ‘no go’, amber zones are ‘be alert’ and green is ‘good with social distancing’?
    • In short, how can you realistically return to coaching in the ‘new normal’?

    Coaches have a key role to play in the nation’s recovery and we would really value your thoughts and ideas.


    We explore practical measures you can take to help you manage social distancing in your sessions whilst retaining the central components of safety, fun, creativity, challenge, social engagement and skill development, in our blog: Practical examples to help you STEP back into coaching with confidence.

  • Nick


    I coach archery and I am going to struggle to coach to the same level that I did before C19 v .

    As an archery coach I need to stand close sometimes to place my archer in the correct posture to shoot the bow. 

    I have thought a lot about this and how I am going to work my way around staying 2m away. I think technology is going to play a larger role in the way I coach my sport. 

  • stuartdoodycoukHCRAOW0S

    I Also coach archery Nick, not quite sure how to do group sessions with young people.

  • Heather1972

    Hi Nick


    it is very difficult at this time especially where technical positioning is key to your sport.  Is this encouraging you to draw on other coaching skills you have like verbal cues and demonstration?

  • anfy

    For years, bowls was coached by demonstrating the correct stance, positioning the recipient, etc. This would result in tortured positions, over-balancing, etc. Some time ago, I turned this round by devising exercises that only worked if someone adopted the required stance - without telling them what I was after or why. This has proved much more successful than the "old" way. For example: rather than tell or show someone to crouch down on delivery, I now ask them to bowl under a very low hurdle at an object beyond it. They think I am asking them to hit the object. I am not! In order to bowl under the hurdle, they have to crouch and adopt the correct stance - precisely what we coaches used to spend ages trying to explain. Now beginners do it without having to be told (and subsequent confusion). I know nothing about archery, but maybe it is time for out of the box thinking - ie what are you trying to achieve, and is there a possibly non-archery-related way of achieving it? 

    p.s more than happy to try and devise exercises if someone could explain what you are trying to achieve ... we (in our coaching) now have many exercises using all sorts of "props" that focus on one particular area at a time, and many of them look nothing like a "standard" game of bowls - but they do the job! All of them require no physical contact, so we won't have a problem when we are let loose again ....


  • Heather1972
    Has the new government guidance released last night helped with your planned return to coaching?
  • PaulT

    I've very much gone back to basics and started to looked at sessions using the STEP model. 

    Session/Practise design is going to be so important moving forward and an area that coaches need to spend more time on. I'm finding that a lot of my current sessions I think will just need a few tweaks using STEP. 

    Time to get creative....

  • Really interesting piece at the moment. We are looking at our Return to Play in a College setting that covers a range of Sports (Rugby, Football, Basketball, Netball, Golf, Table Tennis, American Football, Athletics, Cricket). We're particularly looking at it in 3 stages Getting to the sessions, the sessions themselves and dispersing the campus but any thoughts from people in these sports would be amazing! 

  • Wendyrussell

    So this is something I have been thinking about now that “1-2-1” coaching is allowed. Then in the future the likelihood of group coaching however still maintaining social distancing. 

    In a sport where close contact is needed when tackling etc. Some elements of the game will need to be manipulated/taken out, which can make it “un realistic”  I have however come to view this as an opportunity to develop other skills. 

    Other countries have gone back to coaching already, and have been sharing there practices and experiences on the pitch with to structures the sessions if small groups. I think when delivering 1-2-1 coaching sessions it will be more about individual development. To try and work on the fundamental basics. There is also opportunity to work on fitness as part of this. The challenge is to make these repetition without repetition, and opportunities for decision making.   

    Then when this can be up scaled to 6 people, as long as social distancing. Then all fun and games can be had. As there are many practises, that can be done. As long as areas marked off/conditions for areas players can go.

    I am looking forward to the challenge that pushing this type of coaching. 

  • Coach_Browning

    At the moment... probably more questions than answers!

    A really good point made above in that it is not just the practice itself (and that has the whole host of sub factors around facilities and shared use of equipment to name just 2!), but also getting there and back safely.

    • What if the only way one of your players would usually get to training is with a lift from another player?
    • How do you manage the arrival of players - multiple people arriving at one spot at one time. Potentially needing to change...
    • How do you handle the dispersement of players?

    Alongside this there are wider factors to consider

    • Different people have different comfort levels with regards to this at the moment - We can see it in the "debates" going back and forth around kids going back to school. Some are more comfortable than others. If you have a team sport (like we do) then it is also about catering for those that do not feel comfortable coming. Do they feel forced into it? Do they feel that peer pressure to be there? Is that increasing their anxiety which may have an effect on their life outside the game. 
    • Different rules for different parts of the country - This has a massive impact on a sport generally if you are trying to set some overarching guidelines. But at a more local level do you have someone who would cross the border to get to you? Again, if in a team sport how might this affect dynamics if some players are subject to different rules and others not?

    So assuming you can get all that sorted and you manage to get a group of players to the same location in a safe way then the real fun starts!!

    Just how do you teach (in my case) a contact team sport (American football) that requires a high level of coordination between players and... contact!

    Some elements are (on the surface) easier. In theory you can have throwing/catching drills as players are naturally distant from each other. But then what about sanitising the balls? It gets even harder as you get to the Line. Here the very nature of the position means that they need to work as a unit. They need to be close together and work on timings and feel for what they need to do - something that is very difficult to do 2m apart. It just isnt the same. 

    At the moment it is a case of raking the brain feeling like you are trying to bash a square peg into a round hole. It seems like every turn has a twist to it. It is a minefield!!

    At the moment the easiest thing to do is to look at what they can do on their own (or with family). Can we set them drills that can be done with limited equipment requirements. Can they film themselves and submit that for analysis and review? It can help certain aspects - stances, catching, throwing, footwork - but obviously not contact. 

    So what are the essences of the tackle? What can we utilise from within the house to help us achieve things? Can we still get them to work on hip explosion, levels etc... in that way?

    Maybe we can encourage them to indeed use their family to join in? Maybe not tackling a 5yr old (!) but can this be packaged as a social family thing that then still gets what we need out of it?

    As coaches we look to set an environment for our coaching to take place in. Maybe we need to - for the short to medium term anyway - redefine what that environment is. 

    I note above, some references to archery. This would indeed be very difficult to do as a family thing unsupervised - I can see the headlines now! But as has also been mentioned, what elements are we trying to coach? As with the bowls example is there something we can get someone to do in the house/garden that replicates (or at least imitates) a skill that they would need? 

    As I said at the start - more questions than answers at the moment!

  • Heather1972

    Thank you Simon


    Some amazing questions in there that I have also been considering - it is almost like we have to re-imagine our PLAN, DO, REVIEW here.  Planning in terms of facility preparation and staggered drop off times are quite practical things to do.  However, as you mention with a contact team sport how can sessions be engaging and relevant in this space.  I'm interested to hear from more coaches how people have been adapting and modifying their sessions, for example with Wendy and the Hockey example it was about what can be done safely.

  • lthorp

    There have been some fantastic ideas and contributions so far to this conversation. Simon has posed some excellent questions that consider the wider context of the situation and this highlights that we all need to be considering the more intricate details of returning to training, too. There certainly isn't a one-size fits all approach and I agree that there are more questions than answers! 

    There's no doubt that logistically it is going to be very testing when it comes to risk assessing and organising how things will work in practice. Considering group sizes, space, parent involvement, pick-ups, drop offs, greetings (the list goes on) to ensure safety is a big task. It's going to take a lot of careful planning, testing, cooperation from all involved and of course regular reviewing. 

    I think one of the positives that can emerge from the process of returning to play is the strengthening of coach-athlete and coach-parent relationships. I think we could use this as an opportunity to connect even more deeply with each player/parent in order to learn about their personal context during this time of quarantine and this will help us consider how that will influence their behaviours and how we then tailor the training environment accordingly on return to play. How have they coped personally? How do they feel physically and psychologically? What has their home life been like during this time? How have they interacted with their friends? Have they had the motivation to practise? If not, why not? What have they enjoyed practising? What have they realised they actually miss/enjoy about sport?

    With the conversations I have had with fellow coaches, we have discussed the importance of considering the wider context rather than just about how we will design engaging and fun training sessions while keeping the 2m distance. Training in the grand scheme of things may or may not play a crucial role in the players' lives. As Simon said, we need to avoid assuming that all kids are ready/want to come back due to numerous individual reasons. If they can't or don't want to return just yet then that is ok, too but it is then how we support the individual.

    I'm sure we will all be eager to get back out and coach and also put into practise the numerous things we've learnt from webinars, books and podcasts during quarantine. However, I think with all of us having experienced so much isolation, a focus has to be placed on the social side of sport before anything else. The first question we should be asking when thinking about sessions is what do they need from this? Maybe the focus is not going to be about technical, tactical or physical aspects for the first few sessions (or maybe it will) but that doesn't mean to say that all still won't be present during these sessions.

    One of my mantras in football is that everything should be trained in context. No contact makes this a little harder but there are still loads of possibilities when you consider what you have at your disposal. One conversation I had with a coach was how it might provide an opportunity to work on certain aspects in more detail - such as movement off the ball to support, receiving in order to go forward, perception about when, who, how and why to intercept or screening to block passing lanes. One example would be to lock players into zones, have gates and or goals for attackers to pass through/shoot at and for defenders to block. This would allow for social distancing, but still maintains the realism and then it's down to us as coaches to add the context. 

    One of the most important aspects of coaching is being able to adapt so we could argue that the 2m social distance is a great constraint that forces us all as coaches (irrespective of sport) to find solutions, based on what we perceive to be the best option. It will also be ok for us not to get it right on the first try!

    Destabilising our players aids their learning and allows them to grow and maybe we should see this as a chance for us to do the same for ourselves!

  • Heather1972

    Thank you all for contributing to this conversation, we have been looking at ways to prompt your thoughts through a Plan, Do, Review approach.  Here are some of our thoughts for planning your return to coaching.  Please do let us know if this is useful and if there are other areas to consider.


  • Heather1972

    Two more supporting prompts to take you through plan, do, review




  • olliejh

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts Nick. I imagine most people will need build up strength and conditioning to handle their bow weight / arrow volume. Could this be an area to focus on in the short term? I have found that archers have better posture & technique as a result of improved fitness - it can even completely remove the need for technical advice in some cases. Is this something you have thought about or explored with archers/fellow coaches?

  • olliejh
    On 02/06/20 9:50 PM, Luke Thorp said:

    I think one of the positives that can emerge from the process of returning to play is the strengthening of coach-athlete and coach-parent relationships.

    Couldn't agree more Luke and think your articles hits the nail on the head!


  • olliejh
    On 27/05/20 11:49 AM, Anthea Dore said:

    turned this round by devising exercises that only worked if someone adopted the required stance - without telling them what I was after or why

    Love this Anthea - a real artform of coaching. How have players responded?

  • anfy

    There are several exercises we do, all aimed at dissecting the required elements and testing them one at a time in the form of challenges. This general approach has been surprisingly effective on several levels.

    For beginners, it has meant that their initial progress has been much faster, required far less instruction and reduced the pressure on them to achieve everything at once.

    For the intermediate bowler, it has added another way of fault-correcting .

    What was really interesting was that the very experienced bowlers saw the "games" being played and asked me to set up sessions for them. They grasped the hidden agenda of the various challenges (especially altered to make them subtly more difficult) and enjoyed themselves. Much alcohol, merriment and a lot of side-bets ensued! 

    I have now written a manual outlining the process and am using it to run courses for would-be coaches to assist at Club open days. Over 100 people have attended these so far and have gone on to help club coaches. Some have even decided to take things further and the first batch of 13 were in the middle of gaining their level 1 qualification before we got locked down. Hopefully clubs will soon be able to re-open ...


  • smilner

    The CPSU has produced some helpful safeguarding guidance around remote coaching and teaching:


  • Skippy89

    Hi Anthea


    i read with interest your article and wondered whether you would be willing to share your ideas . I am always looking for some new ideas to try to make the sessions more fun, but  building on their skills level.

    is your manual part of the formal Bowls coaching courses ?

  • anfy

    Hi Sue. The manual was written specifically for use on "my" course, but it has resulted in people continuing on to gain the formal level 1 qualification. I make it very clear from the outset that they are NOT insured to coach alone without Coachbowls/EBCS membership. By having assisted the club coaches, the current 15 (not 13 - got it wrong!) people are well prepared for the practical side of the L1.

    The one day course evolved from the approach taken by the coaching team at my home club, where we hold beginners courses twice a year. I identified a need for club members who were keen to assist at these and Open Days, etc, to have a basic background in what the coaches were doing and why. A surprising side-effect of doing the course is that attendees, by dissecting their own game to do the exercises, have all said how much they personally have benefited!

    What started initially as addressing our own need has now developed into a requested course by local clubs, where I go in and run it specifically for a group of their members. I just present alternative ways of addressing developing skills and suggest fun equipment they can use - it is up to them to adopt what they feel is viable and useful in their own clubs and to possibly come up with ideas of their own.

    I wonder when clubs will re-open properly and we will be back on the greens in force ...?



  • louisestapletonskycomXCJMUZRV

    Hi Heather,

    As a rugby coach we have used the resources we have to social distance - pitch markings. 1 player in every 10m section and 2 in each in goal area. This allows for more than maximum distancing whilst allowing for maximum participation.

    We have implemented our own track and trace system - an electronic and paper register. By doing this every participant and coach can be contacted if symptoms are displayed.

    We have decided to concentrate on S & C rather than ball handling skills to eliminate the requirement to disinfect equipment. This means that we can use the maximum time on the pitch.

    We have also completed an instructional video which will be sent to coaches to advise them on the new rules. This can then be shared with parents so that everyone is aware what we are doing and how we are making their child's experience safe.

    It has been difficult but with some out of the box thinking we have managed to put in place club guidelines that we think will enable us to return to training once allowed.

    I am happy to share both a fairly detailed risk assessment, our plan for returning to training and once edited our instructional video.

  • Heather1972

    We are pleased to announce the next Time 2 Learn session looking at this issue.  Please book your place using the following link:


    Returning to Coaching: Supporting the People You Coach and Their Parents, 12-1pm (GMT) Friday 26 June 2020

    Presented by UK Coaching’s Heather Douglas and Paul Thompson, this session will explore the timely topic of returning to coaching, and the practical measures that coaches will have to take, such as designing activities that allow for social distancing measures. There is no one-size-fits-all answer to the question of how to create great coaching experiences when you return. This session will help you make sense of the guidance available so that you can make your own plan, and will encourage you to think about how to support the people you coach and their parents, if applicable. Secure your place.



  • Coach_Browning
    On 08/06/20 6:06 AM, Ian Stapleton said:

    We have decided to concentrate on S & C rather than ball handling skills to eliminate the requirement to disinfect equipment.

    Yeah - this is something that we are looking to do as well. As you say, not only does it remove one headache from the equation but players will have been out for a while and so there is a fitness issue to consider when they are coming back. 

    Within our sport (American Football), there has thus been a heavy shift towards looking at movement and focusing on the movement skills that a player needs to be able to do the various actions. Especially with regards to tackling... there are things that can be done to work the hip movement/explosion and leverage etc...

    It has meant a rethink right back to the basics of what the sport is, which in some ways is a good thing. Maybe we had become too reliant on equipment? This is a chance to really strip it all back and look at what the core movement and body positional requirements are and work them

  • PaulT
    Returned to Coaching? Have you found that debriefs with players & coaches have become more important since COVID-19? Then join Jenny Coady, Dave Evans & Tom Hartley on Mondays UK Coaching Curious Coaches Club, 14:15 - 15:15 (06/07/20) to look as debriefs in more detail.
Page 1 of 2 (28 items)