Coaching others to coach
Coaching others to coach

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8 Balancing challenge and support

Any effective person-centred learning and coach development is based on achieving the right balance between the support which is appropriate to the individual and challenge to progress the coach in their thinking or practice. This balance is represented in Figure 9.

Figure 9 This diagram demonstrates pictorially the balancing dynamics of the coach developer role, between providing both support and challenge to the coach (Source: adapted from Martin, 1996; Daloz, 1986).

It is likely that coaches will need different levels of support and challenge in different situations and contexts. Also, the balance may change over time. Recognising the support or challenge needed in a particular circumstance and being flexible in your approach is a key skill.

Activity 8 Challenge and support

Timing: Allow about 10 minutes

Using the model above, think about supporting a coach. What coach developer behaviours in addition to those shown in the figure might be used to challenge and support a coach effectively?

An example is given below:

Challenge-related behavioursSupport-related behaviours
  • Ask them to try something different in their next session that stretches them
  • Share a session with them as a co-coach letting them take the lead role.
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Discussion

Table 1 shows some examples of possible coach developer behaviours. Your response may well have differed depending on your working context. It is important to think about this balance between challenge and support throughout your work and to try and make it appropriate to each individual’s needs: not an easy task.

Table 1 Examples of coach developer behaviours aimed at challenging or supporting a coach

Challenge-related behavioursSupport-related behaviours
  • Ask them to try something different in their next session that stretches them
  • Share a session with them as a co-coach letting them take the lead role
  • Invite them to explain a new idea they are using with another group (athletes or coaches)
  • Show care by contacting them outside your normal scheduled time e.g. ‘Do you want to talk anything through before the weekend?’
  • Ask their permission to observe their session with video and/or an observation tool (see Session 7)
  • Pass on any resources you think may help them with an issue they are facing
  • Set them a goal of using feedback with athletes in four different ways
  • Invite them to watch a colleague with you
  • Extend an invitation to let them watch you coach and ask for their feedback
  • Receive feedback from them on your own coaching and ask them to explain how it may have benefited them?

Becoming a better coach is a complex process and sometimes things may not go according to plan, this is when the support part of your role becomes crucial. In this final section you will find out more about learning from mistakes both as a coach developer and as a coach.

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