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Home » Groups » Coaching Children (Ages 5-12) » blogs » Blake Richardson » Evolved ‘Coaching Children’ workshop shows industry is moving with the times
Coaching Children (Ages 5-12)

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Evolved ‘Coaching Children’ workshop shows industry is moving with the times

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Coaching children

Those charged with introducing children to sport and physical activity have a valuable role to play in society. Coaches shoulder a huge responsibility by endeavouring to help children develop both as well-rounded individuals and proficient athletes – by feeding their passion for sport and competition. Which is why cutting edge coach education is so vital. UK Coaching's ‘Coaching Children 5–12: The Next Generation’ workshop aims to provide modern children’s coaches with all the information they need to make that journey a fun and rewarding one for the coach and the athlete.

  • Coaching evolution is not an option, it is a necessity.
  • Organisations must review and update their coach education programmes and frameworks to reflect the latest research and thinking in children’s coaching.
  • Providing a ‘perfect mix’ of theory and practice is the most effective way for coaches to learn.
  • A simple technique for engaging children during training drills is to generate and develop storylines that children can relate to.

It is not just living organisms that are continuously evolving.

Cultures and societies change over time, shaped by advancements and innovations in science, education and technology.

And the coaching industry is no different.

It too must refine and adapt its methods and practices in line with breakthrough areas of understanding, or risk becoming a victim of its own inflexibility.

A non-evolving, stagnant coaching industry would be far less effective. At best, personal development of performers would be hindered and less widespread.

A reluctance or refusal to act on feedback, search for improvements or root out defects in working practices is an example of closed-loop thinking.

Such a culture would lead to outdated coaching models being indefinitely maintained – a perpetuation of the status quo.

Imagine if an anti-bullying campaign failed to reflect the rise in cyber-bullying, having overlooked the evolving interests and motivations of the millennials brought about by the rapid evolution in technology.

The ramifications don’t bear thinking about.

Coaching the whole child

Thankfully, the coach education landscape is evolving a lot faster than biological evolution, with UK Coaching (formerly Sports Coach UK) one of the major pioneers of change.

Fresh from the development of a brand-new workshop that has transformed the way fundamentals of movement are being taught, UK Coaching has rolled out a new workshop aimed at developing children at primary school age, aptly entitled ‘Coaching Children 5–12: The Next Generation’.

The workshop serves as a practical example of how evolved thinking and the latest academic research can help to enhance the development of children as individuals – improving confidence and competence in their physical abilities, and equipping them with valuable life skills they will need to contribute to society.

UK Coaching's Development Lead Officer for Children, Schools and Safeguarding,  David Turner, and Jon Woodward helped design the new iteration of the ‘Coaching Children 5–12’ workshop, which draws together the research of reputed children’s coaches from across the country on the most critical topics.

Two intrinsic coaching models that help underpin children’s development as people and performers, and which feature in the workshop and accompanying resource book, are the ‘C’ system and Teaching Games for Understanding (TGfU) , while there are individual sections dedicated to child physiology, cognitive considerations and behaviour management.

‘It is a new evolution,’ says Dave, who explains the reasons behind the revamp.

‘So we are not just throwing the old one away necessarily. We’ve got the holistic model to work from, which is our ‘C’ system of coaching that was put together for the previous version of the workshop. And now – while we are still using that as the holistic model and baseline to work from – we have some really exciting new research and sections that we are going to take coaches through and deliver in a practical sense.’

‘It is taking what is already out there and making it current, new and innovative,’ agrees Jon. ‘There’s nothing wrong with the other version, but there is better research out there to make coaching more informed.’

Coaching children 2

Children’s story

The improved model has been well received by those who attended a series of taster sessions.

Josh Stevenson is project coordinator for Notts County FC Football in the Community. He has integrated ideas from the workshop into his coach planning and delivery, which he believes has enhanced the learning of the schoolchildren he works with.

‘It is just nice to get different ideas and a fresher outlook on coaching children, as you do start to get into the same mindset and way of working over a period of time,’ he says. ‘It provides you with the stimulation to implement different ideas.

‘So, as an example, although I’ve done a lot of similar exercises in the past, they were only structured as games, whereas we were encouraged to develop games that had an engaging storyline. So this could take the form of cops and robbers, for example, or running through a jungle.

‘I’ve done different obstacle courses before, but we were shown that if you link it to a children’s story, then you get them much more involved, and it helps you generate a lot more ideas off the back of it too.’

What better way to emphasise the importance of learning through play to coaches than to get them actively involved in the session to experience it?

‘It was very active and very hands-on,’ adds Josh, ‘with the key information being told at the right points, which I found to be a good thing, as I think if you sit a lot of coaches in a classroom environment for too long, people will start to switch off.’

This view was echoed by colleague Claire Wilmott, who is the mental health coordinator for Notts County FC Football in the Community.

‘At some of the courses I have attended, you just sit there and listen as someone talks to you. But coaches, I think, learn more through this kinaesthetic approach to learning.’

Some of the primary schools Claire works in have problems with their behaviour, and adding a story element to coaching drills has helped improve engagement levels among pupils.

‘It is a useful strategy whatever your area of focus in a session, whether it’s agility and balance, throwing and catching or building teamwork,’ she says. ‘It captures the kids’ attention right away, and they absolutely love it.

‘We have also been feeding back these refreshing ideas to the teachers so they can implement them when we are not there.’

Best of both worlds

Any coach education programme should strive to achieve the right blend of theory and practice.

Combining the two is a more emphatic method of facilitating professional development.

Jon was delighted with the client feedback and feels they have arrived at the perfect mix: ‘The challenge is to make the workshop wholly practical, while the resource book is there for you as a guide if you want to know a little bit more, or a lot more, about the theory involved.

‘The workshop is really an introduction to coaching, looking at ideas for how to make coaching better, to include all of those ideas but to view it as a kind of journey. It is not a three-hour workshop where you are going to know everything at the end, it is a starting point to make coaches think differently.

‘On the course, we cover a lot of things in a little bit of detail, showing coaches how they all fit together; a taster, if you like, of how to bring things to life. But if you want to know more of the why behind the what, then the book is there to stimulate your interest a bit more.’

Each section of the book has been written by someone at the cutting edge of coaching research.

Dave adds: ‘We have some really high-level academic theory that has gone into the resource itself that coaches can unpick in their own time and be confident that it is pioneering information in terms of coaching children.

‘But the flip side of that is the workshop has got really fun, engaging practical sessions – because there’s no point in having a coach who knows all the theory but can’t deliver it in a practical sense. So we are trying to do two things at once in the same place.’

A suite deal!

The two evolved workshops – ‘How to Coach the Fundamentals of Movement’ and ‘Coaching Children 5–12: The Next Generation’ – follow neatly on from each other and, ideally, coaches should book on both courses.

Josh, having attended the fundamentals workshop in the morning and ‘Coaching Children’ in the afternoon, agrees that they form a dynamic double act.

‘In my opinion, both workshops link in very well together. The fundamentals is something you want to try and incorporate into every one of your sessions, and then the “Coaching Children 5–12: The Next Generation” workshop served as a really useful refresher, even for the more experienced coaches, on how you can fit different skill-based games into different environments.’

Which is music to the ears of Dave, who says that, while it is by no means a prerequisite to take fundamentals first, this was the order they always had in mind when designing the workshops.

‘We think that is the ideal continuing personal development, and we deliver it in this way so that if coaches take these two workshops, along with the safeguarding training, they will learn everything they need to know to be an outstanding children’s coach.’

If this blog has whetted your appetite, further details on how to book on a workshop near you can be found on the UK Coaching website.

And for an in-depth look at how groundbreaking research has inspired a new way of coaching fundamentals of movement, read our blog here.

Next Steps

Coaches: To find a ‘Coaching Children 5–12: The Next Generation’ workshop running near you, visit the UK Coaching Workshop Finder*.

Organisations: Find out more about how to organise the UK Coaching ‘Coaching Children 5–12: The Next Generation’ workshop.

*This workshop is available nationally but due to its newness you may not be able to find one running near you on the Workshop Finder. If you live in England, get in touch with your County Sports Partnership to register your interest.  Visit the CSPN to find your CSP. sportscotland, Sport Wales and Sport Northern Ireland run our workshops outside of England and advertise our workshops on their own websites.

Alternatively register with UK Coaching and you will receive a monthly newsletter detailing the latest workshops running across the country.

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