These are the people who don’t get a medal, grab the headlines or set a new PB. These people are by the athlete’s side at every step towards success. Every early morning and every late night. Every training camp and every competition. These are the coaches of Britain’s most promising athletes.
At UK Sport, our aim is to support British Olympic and Paralympic sports coaches to achieve their potential, whatever their current position on the elite coach development pathway. We work with ex-athletes helping them transition into coaches, apprentice coaches, and the elite, multi-medal winning coaches. Each have a part to play in creating so many memorable moments as you will undoubtedly recall from Great Britain’s Olympic and Paralympic remarkable success in London 2012, Sochi 2014 and Glasgow 2014.
But what is a world leading coach? What are we trying to develop? What do coaches across all sports have in common and where do they differ?
Of course, every coach operates in a different environment, with different responsibilities and different athletes, but they all have shared experiences; from challenges and opportunities to success and failure, each coach goes through a series of highs and lows before reaching the elite level. But is it possible to really unpick what those elements are?
UK Sport are trying to do just that. We are developing a framework of skills and expertise – the Coaching Principles - that to varying degrees, all elite coaches will require regardless of their sport. We aim to develop transferable skills in coaches that work across all sports. If you know what the ultimate coach looks like for your sport, you can plot which elements are relevant for each individual and put appropriate development in place. We use world leading expertise to help develop coaches on our centrally run programmes, but the Coaching Principles have a big part to play out in the field with the sports themselves.
We do not proclaim to understand the intricacies of every sport, this is an evolving process where we allow coaches to interpret our Coaching Principles themselves, so they can refine particular aspects and skills which they find most relevant. What is crucial in one sport, may not be in another.
Our UK Sport programmes are mapped against this aspirational barometer of success, allowing coaches to see the development areas that need addressing and hone in on them. A key element of measuring development of the individual is to also take into account their strengths, to see if they can be leveraged to ‘super strengths’.
Of course arguably you can never reach the end goal of the ultimate coach. The barometer is always evolving and the learning never stops, but by having a yardstick to aim for, those with their sights set on reaching there have a little more direction. They’ll know what to put in their toolbag to help them reach their potential, become world leading coaches, produce athletes to win medals on the world stage and inspire others to join them on their journey.
This blog was originally published on Tinderbox