You have paid your fees, you have kitted your child out at vast expense and got them to their training session. However, are you aware as you watch in all kinds of weather, what a good coaching session actually looks like?
For many, who have no sporting background this can be incredibly difficult, but at WWPIS we believe every parent should have some idea of what this is and whether or not your investment of time and money is as fruitful as it could be.
Here are our top tips for what you should be looking for at your child’s coaching session. These are not hard fast rules but they certainly should be helpful and guide you in the right direction.
Sessions should be fun
This goes without saying and is probably the most important. The session should cater for all abilities and motivate all participants. If your child is having fun then they are more likely to want to return and continue with their sport.
Good adult to child ratio
There should be enough adults involved for the number of children participating to allow the environment to be managed safely and for your child to be given some feedback as opposed to being lost as merely just a number. For young children I would suggest around 1:12 would be on the larger side and anything less would be great, any more and it becomes more like a large babysitting exercise as opposed to a productive coaching session.
If you can find sessions that are well staffed, the improvement that you may see in your child could be significant. There is nothing like being able to work and be given huge amounts of attention and feedback.
Ratios can be much higher in well thought out environments that recreate the old playground/street environment which many of us grew up with, where coaches are encouraging peer to peer interactions and learning as well as facilitating the opportunity for young people to set goals and take a greater ownership of their own goals and processes.
Plenty of equipment
When you are watching the session you should feel that your child is busy, getting the opportunity to practise using the equipment and is on task as opposed to being distracted either by boredom of a lack of activity.
This is not about seeing all the latest professional equipment but more that the equipment available is used by all participants frequently throughout the session.
No queues and both structured and unstructured activity
The very best coaching sessions look slightly chaotic. That is fine so don’t panic and organised chaos is a far better picture to see as a parent than a long line of children waiting for a go behind a cone, regardless of whether that may look more orderly. Too much structure and the session will become tedious for your child.
Well planned and organised
The very best training sessions have a clear structure, clear objectives and flow beautifully. This is created by excellent planning and organisation by the coach. I will let you be the judge of this one the next time you are watching.
Most training sessions should start with some kind of warm up/starter activity(this could be a game), followed by a development phase looking at the objectives for the session. There should then be the opportunity to practise using a variety of different formats before a review at the end of the session recapping the key points and perhaps what the next session will look like.
I have witnessed so many sessions over the years with coaches doing too much talking. This should be limited, well thought out and delivered quickly throughout the session both individually and collectively as a group. This allows the session to flow freely and the participants to take on board and practise the feedback they have just been given.
One of the biggest issues for children is boredom. The more talented in the group must be being challenged and not just repeating things that they can already so very easily. Likewise, if the bar is set too high for the weaker players then they will feel nothing but failure from their participation.
Opportunity to fail
Sessions should provide your child with the freedom to make mistakes and be creative without ramification. That is how children learn and the environment created must be a positive and encouraging one.
Safe – no risk
At no point during any session should you feel that your child is at potential risk from injury. All activities should have been well thought out in terms of space, equipment, opponents etc and if you did feel that something was out of control then perhaps you may need to step in.
However, do not confuse the above with risky play which is of huge importance for self-regulating and resilience – because emotional safety is really important, a safe-to-fail environment which also allows learning through trial and error.
We are delighted to be able to include the following coaching session from our friends at the Coaching Manual which covers many of the key aspects that we have discussed above. To watch the video please click on the link below:
Development – https://app.thecoachingmanual.com/Content/197
One of the great things about the world of sport is that coaching is different and is unique to the coach delivering the session. As we said earlier there are no hard fast rules that must be obeyed and many great coaches are so flexible in their delivery and organisation that it is impossible to say that this is what you must see for it to be a great session. There are many different ways of delivery and each coach will have their own methods and beliefs.
However, we have done our best here to present to you some things that you may want to look out for the next time you are watching a session and perhaps give you greater confidence in demanding the very best for your child.