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Coaching others to coach
Coaching others to coach

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1.1 What do coach developers do?

Lucy and Stuart have learned this through their experiences and through the different roles they have undertaken as coach developers. The term ‘coach developer’ can itself be a tricky concept and in the following activity you will meet one of the writers of this course, Alex Twitchen. Alex has been supporting coaches and helping them to learn and develop for twenty years and in this short video he describes how he understands the role of a coach developer.

Activity 1 Who is a coach developer and what do they do?

Timing: Allow about 15 minutes

Watch and as you listen to Alex make some notes on the following questions.

  1. In what different situations or environments does Alex support the development of coaches (e.g. workshops)?
  2. What four main characteristics does Alex believe it is important to possess if you want to help coaches learn and develop?
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  1. Alex indicates that the role of a coach developer can embrace different situations and environments, for example working with a group of coaches on a course or helping an individual coach. In both situations he is supporting learning and development.
  2. Regardless of the situation Alex believes that the following characteristics are important:
    • knowing how people learn
    • understanding the people involved and how to build effective relationships with them
    • having a sense of humility and understanding that it’s about the coach and not about him, and
    • a good level of self-awareness.

Alex also mentions he is conscious that coaches require different forms of support, and this can vary according to their level of experience and the people they coach. Supporting a coach should be specific to their context and their own circumstances and this requires flexibility and adaptability on the part of coach developers.

Having listened to Alex’s thoughts the term coach developer can be applied to a range of possible roles, which describe the different activities that coach developers undertake. These are:

  • Mentoring – supporting and advising a coach who is usually less experienced and knowledgeable in some way.
  • Tutoring – teaching small groups of coaches usually through a syllabus provided by an organisation.
  • Assessing – evaluating the competence, capability or skill of a coach.
  • Facilitating – enabling learning by designing, generating and organising content and activities for coaches to engage in.
  • Training – providing instruction to develop specific skills.
  • Critical friendship – supporting a coach, usually a colleague, of similar status, experience and expertise.

Each of these roles are based on the intention to provide the support that coaches ask for. These roles are connected through this common intent but require slightly different approaches and methods that need time to have an impact.

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Figure 3 What role do you fulfil as a coach developer? Do you have one role or many, and in what context do you fulfil them?

In Figure 3, you can see how each coach developer role can be situated in one of several different contexts. As a coach developer you might not fulfil every role or feel comfortable operating across all these roles. It is possible you may also fulfil different roles in different contexts or predominantly support coaches within one context.

There is no straightforward definition of a coach developer. It potentially refers to somebody providing focused individual support to coaches, as well as being a broader umbrella term that encompasses the roles undertaken by the ‘coach developer family’ depicted in Figure 3. This course adopts a perspective similar to the ‘professional standard’ developed by the Chartered Institute for the Management of Sport and Physical Activity (CIMSPA) [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] – that a coach developer is essentially a people developer, skilled in providing coaches with an appropriate level of support at the right time – and over time – to better their coaching and therefore improve the experience of the people they coach.