INSPIRATION | CONFIDENCE | SUCCESS

9 tips to overcome potential pitfalls

Coaching journeys never do run smooth, writes Andrew Raeburn.

Early optimism at the start can give way to frustration and tiredness, as the treadmill of designing practices and managing player behaviour is combined with the stress of a day job and family life.

But Tom Hartley – coach programme and pathway manager at UK Coaching, who spent 10 years at the Football Association and three with Arsenal Women – has written some advice for those who find certain aspects of coaching a struggle.

Here are Tom’s nine tips to get the best out of yourself…

 

01 CREATE A HEALTHY WORK/LIFE BALANCE

“Being successful as a coach isn’t just about working at the big club or organisation.

“Coaches, especially at the highest levels, can be dehumanised. Creating a balance where you have space to take care of yourself, and spend time with the people important to you, is vital.”

02 STRETCH YOURSELF

“Coaching is not easy. The best coaches make their practice look simple, but it takes time to develop your craft as a coach.

“However, trying new things to develop and stretch your skills can only lead to you becoming more skilful and your athletes getting an even better experience.”

03 UNDERSTAND YOURSELF

“Coaches are performers too – we need to think about what high performance looks like to us.

“It is worthwhile appreciating, though, that we all have good days and bad days. Understanding what you need to help you thrive or survive can help you be at your best more often.”

04 THERE IS LEARNING IS EVERYTHING

“If you take time to reflect on your coaching you will be able to recognise the steps you are taking to becoming a more skilled and aware coach.

“Working with a coach developer or mentor can really help you get perspective on your development journey.”

05 FIND A HARMONY

“Develop some strategies to help you find a harmony. If we maintain a balance of coaching pressure and coping mechanisms we can keep challenges in order.

“But when the pressure changes we need to notice, so we can handle the stress.”

Tom Hartley combines his job at UK Coaching with being assistant manager at English third-tier club Oxford United Women (Pic: Darrell Fisher Photography)

06 STOP GIVING YOURSELF A HARD TIME

“Talk to yourself with kindness, especially when things don’t go to plan.

“There is no such thing as a perfect coaching practice, so look for the clues in what you are doing that give you and the athletes you coach energy.”

07 BOUNDARIES ARE IMPORTANT

“We can become so invested in our athletes we can often forget ourselves.

“Ultimately, if you want to be athlete-centred – through your practice, behaviours and so on – then start with being coach-centred, and think about the conditions you need to be at your best.”

08 BE COLLEGIATE

“Working together can lead to some amazing outcomes. As coaches we can hold a lot of responsibility. Sharing that isn’t a sign of weakness, it’s a sign of strength.

“Co-creating the environment, practice, your culture with co-coaches, athletes and others gets buy in and shares the load.”

09 WE ARE ALL HUMAN

“This goes for you as a coach and the people you work with. If you can, take time to understand the lives of the individuals you are working with.

“You don’t have to fix their challenges – just be aware and be there.”

 

Tom Hartley is on Twitter, providing tips and advice to coaches across different sports: @thomaswhartley

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