Community Conversation 6/11/23: Coaching culture discussion

The subject of last week’s Community Conversation was ‘Coaching Culture’.   Many thanks to all those who came along and shared their ideas.  The first question that was raised was, ‘How do we get more people to come along to coaching/training sessions?’

KFO coaching – all smiles!

Terry commented that his sessions are open to all but it is predominantly the younger members that come along.  He finds that catering for all preferences, runners and navigators, encourages attendance. It was generally observed that often adult members will come along to events but not to training (juniors in general were always up for coaching) and ways to overcome this reluctance were discussed.  Some success had been achieved by:

  • Keeping it fun for adults too
  • Making it age appropriate by not asking older members to do too much running
  • Making it sociable – having an indoor space for socialising afterwards in bad weather
  • Calling it a ‘club night’ rather than coaching
  • Forewarning athletes what to expect to reduce fear of not being able to cope
  • Having coaching as part of a local event
  • People designated to look after newbies and show them the ropes
  • Separating the juniors and the adults unless it is a specific family session

There was quite a bit of discussion around this final point.  Clubs had experimented with various formats which included:

  • Adult and child sessions where the aim was to teach the adults to support/shadow their children – particularly appropriate for those with younger children.
  • Family sessions where the adults and children did 2 out of 3 sessions together and then split for the final session to allow adults to make more progress whist children consolidated.
  • 3 groups, TD1 – 3, with the flexibility for parents to swap between groups to support their children and develop new skills themselves as required. Parents are not given the option of just leaving the children but have to participate.
  • Starting beginners off with a block, 6 weeks on early summer evenings after school, and once they had the basics switching to one Sunday a month for the rest of the year.

Participants views were sought as to whether the Scottish events programme, which has been curtailed somewhat, was now at a level to allow clubs time to put on local events and training.  The following comments were made:

  • Fewer SOLs was a welcome change.
  • Clubs like their local events
  • Local events should however be quality events to prepare athletes for national events which might need some innovative measures to be taken to ensure courses are of sufficient challenge to prepare participants for SOLs.
  • The calendar still needs tightening up a bit to make the events calendar more predictable, particularly with the introduction of SOULs and SoSOLs into the mix too.

Following the success of the recent day at Kinnoull Hill, the question of Coach CPD was also raised. Suggestions for possible models included:

Coach CPD Day at Kinnoull Hill
  • Face-to-face 2-3 hours after a SOL
  • National coaching day set in the SOA calendar as free from events.  Clubs run their own coaching.
  • SOA organise a coaching day with coaching in the morning open to all and coach discussion & feedback time in the afternoon.  This could be split with a North and South session to reduce travelling.  Again, these days could be linked to a SOL weekend.
  • SOA used to hold coaching conferences and controllers’ conferences on alternating years – maybe these could be revived.

There was a lot of discussion around the problems associated with maintaining a licence to coach.  Suzanne is currently checking coach qualifications, advising members of training required and advising BOF of updates required for their database.

All in all, it was a very useful discussion.  A recording is available for anyone that was unable to make it along.  If anyone has any suggestions to add to the lists or any other comments they wish to make please contact suzanne@scottish-orienteering .org