New gyms, reflective practice and programming- November Chairman’s Update

Dear all,

I hope you are well? Life has been tiring and exciting in the Haining household over the last few weeks as we welcomed a new addition into our family.

You can see from the picture here that my son ‘Tom’ has been introduced to Reed’s School gymnasium. Clearly an induction and structured programme maybe a stretch too far for him just now but a little bit of subliminal learning/influence might be possible!

In recent weeks I have been reflecting on my own coaching practice and trying to challenge myself (in between night feeds and perhaps a few more cups of coffee) to identify if I ever find myself slipping into a ‘prescription rut’.

One of the great challenges as you become a more experienced coach is avoiding falling into the trap of designing and delivering solid sessions that you know ‘work’ without pushing yourself to deliver ‘excellent’ perhaps more creative sessions with your athletes.

That said, proven, well ordered and appropriately loaded sessions that have produced good results with your young athletes in the past should not just be discarded and replaced with a ‘faddy’ or sudden search for a ‘magic wand session’ approach.

The building of logical progressions and importantly the repetition of key primary movements with our young athletes need to be in place consistently for us to be able to assess their physical progression and measure programme effectiveness. Chopping and changing can be just as counterproductive as becoming staid and predictable in our coaching approach. However, variety is important for young people and a bored athlete is rarely an improving one.

If we aspire to ‘Excite, Engage and Enable’ our athletes we need to find the balance between the ability to create an energy, interest and some unpredictability in our sessions that also marries with an evidence based consistent approach that is effective.

With these reflective thoughts swimming in my head last week I tried to write a ‘day of coaching sessions’  for a range of our young athletes up on the white board in the gym in a 30 minute time trial challenge to see what I would come up with under pressure. The picture shows what I managed to come up with…

I then stepped back and critically evaluated the content, order and rationale for each session. It was an interesting exercise to complete and it firstly helped me identify a few prescription choices that seem to consistently feature in my coaching. It highlighted where I could look to mix things up more and add other exercises and importantly it became a talking point with all of the young people I was working with in that 6 hour coaching stint. Programming is important and hopefully this process will challenge me to individualise their individualised and written programmes with a higher level of awareness of where my coaching head is at and where it can sharpen up in the next six weeks.

Questions to consider?

  • What are you reflecting on at the moment with regard to your coaching practise?
  • How are you going to improve your design and delivery?

Wishing you all a reflective and productive November!





Ben Haining, YSCA Chairman

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