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Posted in: General

What are the key things that you would like to see in the Coaching Plan for England?

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  • Blake

    Sport England's Head of Coaching, Stuart Armstrong, has posed the question to members.

    He won’t be able to reply to all the responses but promises to read them all and to use the thoughts expressed to inform the plan’s development.

    His question in full: What are the key things that you would like to see in the Coaching Plan for England that would change the coach development landscape for the better? 

    Please share your thoughts and ideas.


  • LawrieOK

    If coaching qualifications were the 'end product', I could see a place for non-sport specific coaching pathways - generic coaching standards/training concepts/philosophies. 

    What is currently missing from every coaching course I have ever attended, is the 'people skills' essential for every coach regardless of the level they are coaching at. This is a tragic oversight imho.

  • andrewb62
    Lawrie O'Keeffe said:

    ...I could see a place for non-sport specific coaching pathways

    Definitely something to look at, I think - following the "coaching assistant/session coach/club coach" model.

    [aside - I can't find a reference to this model, only some notes I took from...somewhere, I can't remember where.  Can anyone help?]


    • best coaching practice across sports
    • flexible coaching workforce (including volunteers)
    • coaching/education specialists as coach educators, rather than sport-specific coach educators
      • not to say that the coach educators I have encountered haven't been very good, but most have been experts in delivering sport-specific (technical) sessions
    • sharing of ideas across sports (if level 1 candidates from multiple sports attend a single training course)

    So a new coach would qualify as level 1 (or Coaching Assistant) with appropriate technical specialisation via Club/NGB as a bolt-on (which might not need to be too detailed, and could be as simple as instruction from the "session" or "club" coach).

    Again, advancement to level 2/session coach would require appropriate experience, a generic "how to be a session coach" qualification, and necessary technical knowledge (as assessed or taught by the NGB).

    Or, if a generic "level 1 / level 2 with sport-specific bolt-on" seems a step too far for the NGBs, then perhaps at least to include relevant generic modules (on people skills, self-evaluation etc.) in sport-specific courses?

    "Performance/elite" coach education would still be the sole responsibility of the NGB, although I suspect that there is still scope for sharing best practice - perhaps as ongoing CPD, however, rather than in a "professional" qualification?

  • IanMahoney

    One thing I foun invaluable is masterclasses at clublevel

    In Athletis I have done, shot, discus and high junp although I coach endurance running but have 'picked up' tips that I can include in my sessions.

    doing within a club setting, everyone at the club can attend and no one is going 'ahead 'of anyone.

    and I am with people I've known, for 10,20,30 years

  • CatherineBaker

    Couldn't agree more.  The behavioural side is absolutely key, and a focus of the work we do with coaches. I have already picked this up with Stuart (in particular the emotional intelligence side which is a significant part of the equation in the people skills arena).  The challenge will be to come up with something that is accessible and scaleable - my team and I will work hard on this, and any insight and suggestions that anyone has would be very welcome.

    In a nutshell, the issue for coaches is as follows: you could be a really knowledgeable coach, a technical specialist, determined, focused and prepared to work hard with and for your players. But if you don't also develop the people side, your ability to work well with others and get the best out of them as individuals, you will never fulfil your potential as a coach (or therefore your players' potential). 'Knowledge, enthusiasm and an ability to manage people'  were the three key ingredients picked out by Eddie Jones in his first interview as the new England Rugby Head Coach, when asked what makes a great coach. That last one can and needs to be developed by all in coaching and delivering, at all levels.

  • skitson

    I agree. Great to see engagement around this topic. Exciting times.

    I was recently told 'every element of coaching is a human interaction' yet a lot of coaching practice does not place this fact as highly as it should. How to build relationships, how to influence behaviour, how to govern power between coach and athlete or coach and participant, how to use language, and of course understnading impact and consequence of all these elements are fundamental.

    There are human elements I feel we need to further develop and build in athletes and participants to help develop a greater learning culture especially in young people. It was interesting a reference was made to Eddie Jones as the All Blacks have been developing a culture of learning, an attitudinal culture based on behaviour for quite a while with great results. I know our landscape is different but there is learning to be gained.  

    I would also like to echo others comments regarding the development of coaching practice to engage and look at other sports than just their own and instil this as common practice moving forwards. Still very much underplayed at a grassroots level I feel. A really interesting area.  

  • BillB

    I would like to see a move away from the constant over assessment environment that has crept into coach education. I favour the creation of a more welcoming learning experience that helps young and/or inexperienced coaches make the progress needed.

    Of course assessment should have a role, but I wonder how mant potetial coaches we may be missing due to their nervousness about the assessment process.

    I also believe to add value and credibility to Coaching as a career there should be a clearly defined pathway to Participation/Performance coaching and what that journey looks like in mainstream sport and the minority sports.

  • garyfowler

    1. I agree with many others that a greater human/personal element to courses, at all levels should be a priority.The majority of courses I've attended (across different sports) focus on the technical, tactical and phyical aspects yet pyschology (incorporating social) is frequently given least importance. In my opinion this underpins all the others and needs a much higher level of coach-education. A non-sport course in coaching, management or leadership would have this as the greatest focus so why when it's sport focused does this drop to the lowest level?

    2. I, any many other coaches, seem to learn more from informal CPD or non-assessed courses. When there is a focus on testing coaches or hitting a certain criteria, the learning and enjoyment of learning seems lessened. A better balance here would help hugely

    3.Having sport-specific courses frequently assessed by tutors etc from a different sport. The quality difference between courses depending on sport is huge. Internal assessments and reviews doesnt facilitate high enough quality. 

  • coachmessam

    Recognition – The UKCC endorsement framework has made significant inroads in to the shape and direction of coaching development in the UK. The level 4 provision connects theory to practice and elevates the practitioner’s knowledge and understanding of sports coaching. This approach should be adopted at every level of the framework; the provision should be underpinned by H.E pedagogy to ensure levelness and quality at all levels of the framework. This would support the recognition and professionalisation agenda as well as equip the next generation of practitioners with a much-needed understanding of learning theory. The framework must promote the marriage of theory and practice if we are to elevate coaching in the UK.


    Reward – Aligned with the development of recognition is reward, we must begin to raise the profile of coaching beyond its current voluntary status. Far to many NGB’s are reliant on the goodwill of a body of volunteers to engage, empower and develop our sporting aspirations. Joined up thinking at all levels of our education system could present us with an infrastructure that not only educates and develops our coaching resource but also contributes to the employment opportunities available for coaching. Linking NGB requirements and aspirations to education could possibly enable the sharing of resources and the development of a sustainable approach to coach development.


    A final point, at the heart of all of the great concepts and suggestions that will emerge and have passed before us is the need to be clear about what coaching is as oppose to a ‘must-fit’ approach. Coaching cannot address a plethora of social agenda items; we must lean on research to better understand what coaching is and drive our findings in to the heart of the development landscape.

  • Fran

    I feel the opposite in terms of generic coaching theory courses!  My sport largely relies on volounteers. To move away from a largely volounteer led work force would mean either a high increase in funding or a significant increase in participation costs. The first is unlikely (especially for non Olympic /Paralympic sports) the second means reduced accessibility,  giving a smaller grass-roots Base. 

    I am completely for increasing the professionalism of coaching but volounteers must not be forgotten in this process. 

    To get new/ aspirant coaches to engage within the 'grass roots' arena, Teaching basic coaching philosophies in context to their coaching interests is essential. We need to make access to coaching simple and attractive (while maintaining standards) . As the coach becomes more involved in coaching process' more generic courses and learning from other sports is less of a barrier as coaches are more likely to have bought in to coaching and have incressed motivation to learn and put time into their coaching progression.

    On the otherhand if people wanted to become professional generic sports coaches where you wanted to coach across a number of sports then I agree the theory courses followed by sport specific applied courses would be useful.

    Maybe 2 routes is a good idea?

    At an elite/ advanced level understanding what other sports do and how they apply coaching theory and sports science principles is more important and much more relevant.  I believe this increases creativity.  At an advanced coaching level I would hope that individual coaches are able to take a theoretical concept an relate it to their every day practice. 

  • sophia

    However one decides to define coaching, at the heart of coaching lies the dyadic coach-athlete relationship. Therefore it is important for coaches to know and understand how to connect, commit, collaborate, and communicate with each one athlete in their team or squad. Whether coaches operate at the highest level of sport performance, grass root or participation sport, it is important to address relationship and interpersonal skills in coach education. For decades, coach education has predominantly focussed on technical, strategical, and tactical aspects and while these are extremely important, I continuously hear from coaches that the capacity to connect with their athletes is equally instrumental to their success and effectiveness. The coach-athlete relationship is at the heart of coaching and while “coaches are the driving force” neither the coach nor the athlete can do it alone; they both need one another! Every day, high profile coaches explain in the media the importance of the coach-athlete relationship (e.g., Toni Minichiello, Claudio Ranieri, Danny Kerry, Mel Marshall). So we need to support all coaches to develop knowledge and understanding about the role and significance of the coach-athlete relationship and help them build strong relationships with every single athlete in their team or squad. In the Consultation Paper: A New Strategy for Sport (August 2015), "soft skills" or relationship and communication skills were idetified as important to for coaching though there is an apparent gap in coach education that needs addressing.

    One way coaches will become “sensitive to people’s motivations” is by knowing them well enough and knowing them well enough requires the development of genuine relationships that are characterised by trust, respect, appreciation, commitment, responsiveness and receptiveness. Such a positive coach-athlete relationship provides a solid basis from which to appropriately encourage the athlete to be successful and accomplished (physically competent and skilful) as well as satisfied and fulfilled (mental wellbeing). Research in this field of coaching has advanced over the past 20 years – there are over 100 peer-reviewed research studies on coach-athlete relationships, communication and conflict that can be accessed to inform coach education workshops, seminars and courses. Coaches who appreciate the key role of relationships, they would be better coaches well-liked and highly regarded by their athletes and the entire sporting community.

  • Ralph

    This is a tragic oversight imho.

    there is no opinion, your stament is fact,

    an example of an opinion is mine, which is this statment by Lawrie is the best thing i've read on CC, including my own.

  • Ralph
    On 14/07/16 12:13 PM, Gary Fowler said:

    yet pyschology (incorporating social) is frequently given least importance.

    this is how bad it is or has got...

    having done one of the many cpds on child protection; a three hour course run by an expert professor from a prestigious university last year, devoted just 5mins at the end on “child self empowerment.”

  • BillB

    Surely the best approach is recognition of experiential learning supported by traditional learning, to get the best coaches.

    Many coaches in the UK are by-passed by a lack of acknowledgement of the experience they have accumulated, thus missing many potentially talented coaches and offering them the opportunity to learn to lead.

    I would love to see a form of coaching apprentiship, that could cultivate the experience gained through their playing career, potentially developing supported coaches, through formal and more importantly informal learning.

  • CatherineBaker

    I agree on the supported real time learning - one of the best ways to get that tacit knowledge across. In the legal world you spend the two years of your training contract in 'seats' where you sit in a room with a senior lawyer for 6 months and basically do everything they do: go to meetings with them; watch the way they conduct themselves and deal with clients; listen to them on the phone; watch how they approach each task etc. By getting a minimum of 4 seats (and sometimes more) you gain be benefit of this system with a good mix of people. Clearly an exact replication of this system is not practical but it would be good to see more of this type of learning in the coaching system on a more formal basis. 

  • LawrieOK

    Thank you for your powerful contribution Sophia.

    How would a coach, not on a University server, easily access these 100 peer-reviewed research studies? I often come across posts referring to such studies, but find it difficult to access anything other than the Abstract; I am reluctant to pay for information that may/may not have an impact on my coaching journey.

    Kind regards.

  • ianbarker

    Very interesting reading this thread. I would like to give it more time but a bit busy atm. There are a number of good points raised in the conversation. The phycological aspect is a powerful one. Very few highly skilled psycologists in the UK, sometimes it may be down to the coaches to do this, but are they/you good enough? Could this be a major upskilling area? If every sport had a Steve Peters what would the World look like?  At the top level it nearly always boils down to head games. Apart from medal winners of course , they do it themselves!! That could save some money.

    I did the Elite coach course a few years back with many coaches from other sports and it was amazing (and the biggest take away) to learn what they were doing and contribute to them. All on the course felt the same.

    The other great event is the UK sport anual conference but it feel way too short?

    Problem is, whose going to pay for it?



  • DeniseHolland

    Great question and one very close to my heart:

    For me, after 20 years involvement in performance sport, I find myself gripped by a curiosity – how as coaches we can effect a change in another human being?

    What's really going on here?

    Where does performance actually come from?

    What is the role of the mind (not brain) to create human experience?

    Should we not now have a performance model that goes beyond behaviours, where a person's 'state of mind' in the moment, their perspective is at the root of all coaching programmes?

    We have evolved performance coaching in the UK to a fairly sophisticated level, but I'd like to see us take this massive leap forward and go beyond what we already know conceptually? 

    There is something sport is missing out on, it will change the field of performance sport forever, a paradigm shift, a bit like when germ theory was introduced, it transformed medical care or when it was discovered that the sun was the center of the solar system, it completely change the world of science!

    We now have the technology to teach people about the human experience, on a Principle level, 100%, the same for all humans, no exceptions! 

    With this understanding coaches will have a superior use of their mind, eg, coaches would see poor behaviours/responses as a state of mind issue not a behavioral issue and the intervention would be completely different.

    We do not need to leave poor psychological functioning or under-achievement to sport psychologists - every single sports coach has the capacity and knowledge within them to understand what keeps them from a quiet mind and performance excellence. It's about pointing out an innocent mis-understanding of where experience really comes from and the infinite potential to create absolutely anything!

    Consider these outcomes, when coaches and athletes have clarity of mind and a connection to their innate resilience and confidence as a human being:

    –      You won’t blame anyone or anything for the way you feel, on or off the court - being a victim of circumstance simply wouldn't make sense.

    –      You’ll engage in feedback, unfiltered and unemotional, deeply connected and knowing that it wouldn't occur to you to take anything personally.

    –      You’ll be unburdened by the expectations of targets; you’ll be free to create your highest performance and go beyond your current skill capacity.

    –      You won’t waste living minutes in states of worry, frustration or disillusionment leading up to and following selection decisions – you’ll have clarity to know the next step best for you!

    –      Your perceptual field will expand; your responses become highly instinctive, your cue detection and space awareness heightened giving you more options and time to execute with precision accuracy.

    –      You’ll experience optimal functioning most of the time rather than fleetingly feel the zone state.

    –      You’ll be unaffected psychologically and physically by the so-called, ‘pressure environment’ able to maximize and accelerate recovery, especially enjoying high quality sleep!

    –      You’ll develop as a strong leader, someone who truly understands that poor behaviours come from a low state of mind – you encourage teammates not to be re-active, instead have empathy, which allows potential conflicts to dissolve immediately.

    –      Retiring due to poor form or under-achievement simply won't make sense to you; you’ll drain every last drop of fun, and challenge out of the sport you adore!

    –      You’ll be able to play in the finals just as free as you play in the rounds – you’ll be able to transfer your skills from training to the competition arena with an effortless ease.

    I do hope that you've found my reply interesting; I have written many articles about this work on my web-site, which is transforming sportspeople's lives around the globe!

  • Ralph

    there you go,

    Big Sam, wants to have FUN.

  • LawrieOK

    Always thought Big Sam was a girl! lol

  • Wendyrussell

    This is a great question and has so many aspects to think about and the demands of different sports to take into account. (This just a few)

    As someone who completed there level 2 many years ago, it was very much complete the theory and then have a practical assessment. Which was based on my technical ability within the session and was the session safe and engaging. During my early coaching though I never had any education on coaching "soft" skills such as questioning, feedback back loops, assessment etc. I have taken this from teaching. 

    In an idea world I would love coach mentoring for new level 1 & 2 coaches.....It seems you pass well done.....enjoy your coaching....However I know this is time & commitment from coaches etc. Would it would make the new coach feel valued and support their development?

    I have also gained a huge amount of level 1 qualifications. Which I can see are great for sideline parents and young leaders wanting to get into the sport or developing some further knowledge about the sport. Could these be transferable? What do level 1 course educated you about? 

    The other aspect is what is the role of a coach? Which has changed over the years. Plus the reason why that person has got into coaching, is this just to help out the main coach as your child is playing or to progress to a higher level? 

    Ones sizes does not fit all, but can we support all? 

  • Nollzer

    As a middle aged coach with over 25 years experience, I perhaps would have benefited personally in doing a Mix and Match , Diploma, Higher Diploma and Degree in coaching during these years. Therefore, it would have been nice if a national coaching body could offer the same over an extended timeline. Of course, these modules would encorporate all the fine coaching content already delivered but would afford an opportunity to more ambitious coaches. Those wishing to be assessed could, those opting to participate in the modules could. 

    The delivery could utilise all the paedogogical methodologies available and be highly relevant, creative, innovative and practical. This is to minimise costs to the participant. Indeed the offer of the potential to complete a free degree level qualification would be ideal, through corporate sponsorship, good will and volunteerism. 

    Attached is a list of suggested modules, in noway a complete list. The theory would be generic and the practice is sport specific.

    The vision being that as one starts coaching, you get the opportunity to collect credits towards a more formal third level qualification if you wish. Hopefully, the process produces highly qualified and practical coaches for all levels of sport. 

  • sophia

    Apologies for the delay in replying. There are various ways to access research papers though I am not entirely certain whether the website I am proposing next are accessible to academics only or to all. Something to explore:


    www.researchgate.net/home I suspect you have to register/create an account first and once you are logged in you can search any researcher eg.: Sophia Jowett - the majority of my (others) research papers, book chapters, books etc should appear in a list; then you can click and download


    Similarly www.academia.edu  as above – I have uploaded a lot of papers here that if one registers can access … While neither of these website require payment or fee –I am not sure if everyone can create an account and access them. If you decide to have a go, please let me know if you were successful.


    Also I am planning to create hyperlinks to all of my listed publications in Tandem https://www.tandemperformance.com/research/ so hopefully I can make my papers readily accessible to all coaches and anyone who has an interest in the area I am researching. This will be ready and available by December 2016 and I would be happy to let you know.


  • LawrieOK

    Is this your site? "Class Performance - Excellence Within"

  • Reversestick

    I would like to thank everyone for their considered contributions on this thread. There are a number of themes here that really chime with the key elements of the Coaching Plan for England so I hope that some of you should see some positive change in your sports in the coming years. 

    Some of your comments may even feature in the publication!! (unless anyone strenuously objects...please let me know)

    All the best 


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