Filed under: Dan Cottrell, Rugby Coaching, Rugby Training | Tags: BBC blogs, coaching at the top level, Katharine Merry, rugby players as coaches
Here is an interesting article about whether you need to have played the game to the top level to be a good coach. It comes from former top UK athlete, Katharine Merry.
Do former athletes make the best coaches?
Katharine Merry | 07:42 UK time, Thursday, 9 April 2009
Do those who have been successful playing sport at the highest level make the best coaches?
It’s a question many football fans have been asking since Newcastle appointed Alan Shearer as manager.
We also discussed the matter/issue on BBC 5 Live’s London Calling programme last month, particularly in relation to Charles van Commenee, the new head coach of UK Athletics who was forced to end his competitive career at the age of 18 because of injury.
Just because you are good at sport doesn’t mean you will be good at teaching it. Yes, you can have a sound knowledge base from what you have learnt from your own coaches but, when it comes to being a successful coach, ex-athletes run the risk of flying by their reputation rather than the knowledge they have.
In football, you can’t get a better example for both sides of this coin than the Charlton brothers. Bobby was the far better player, but failed at lower league coaching whereas Jack – arguably a weaker player – was a tremendous coach/manager.
Oddly, football clubs who bring in foreign managers – the likes of Arsenal and Arsene Wenger or Liverpool with Rafa Benitez – do so based on their coaching ability, while those who appoint home-grown managers – like Newcastle with Shearer – do it based on playing ability.
Athletics is peppered with former stars who have an input into athletes’ careers, either as coaches or mentors. But the majority of athletes have coaches that never been stars themselves.
Michael Johnson and Donovan Bailey both achieved phenomenal success with coaches who were students of the sport but had never hit the heights themselves.
There is a difference between experience and knowledge. So what skills does a good coach need?
To me, good coaching is about helping athletes to understand themselves, where they want to be, and helping them to get there. This means having knowledge of the sport and good communication skills.
In my experience the best coaches were the ones who took the time to get to know me as an individual, learning about my strengths and weaknesses.
Athletes are by nature blinkered and focused on their own careers. Does this mean they will take what could be described as selfish attributes into coaching and only teach what they think is right?
Some of the best coaching seems to come from a combination of experience at the highest level of sport and experience from years of coaching.
Linford Christie was coached throughout his career by Ron Roddan, whose own sprinting career peaked with an appearance in a Middlesex county final in the 1960s.
With help from Ron, Linford coached me and Darren Campbell to Olympic medals and the combination of knowledge and experiences from both of them together was priceless.
Now Linford is coaching on his own, with Ron as a sounding board, using all that he has learnt from him over the years.
Another successful coaching duo is Lloyd Cowan and Christine Bloomfield, who work with Christine Ohuruogu. Both were international athletes in their day but clearly have a great blend together that helps their athletes be far more successful than either of their coaches ever was.
Should therefore any person wanting to come into coaching, regardless of there sporting achievements, be subject to a period of apprenticeship? I know Sport England and UKA are now really putting an emphasis on coaching education and development.
I do believe ex-athletes can make excellent coaches and make a valuable contribution to the development of coaching.
However sometimes too much of an assumption is made from having been there and done it. This doesn’t automatically make an effective coach.
Any person that can add to the support system of an athlete to develop them into the best they can be is a good thing.
Let’s just make sure we develop and support the backbone of sport in this country and never overlook coaching talent from non-elite athletes.
Filed under: Dan Cottrell, Rugby Team Management | Tags: All Blacks, Ian Gough, Marty Holah, Ospreys, roles models
Sometimes a great player comes along and yet is still eclipsed by a true great. Imagine if you were the openside flanker who played in the same era as Michael Jones or Richie McCaw, two of the greats of All Black rugby. Well Marty Holah is one of those. He still managed to get over 30 caps, in spite of McCaw.
He now plays his rugby in South West Wales for the Ospreys.
I know him a little through my work at the Ospreys as a skills coach with some of the age grade players. His work ethic is outstanding. One would expect that though.
However I saw what makes him a great role model. My son’s U13 side had a presentation evening. It had a quiz, raffle, some of the boys played some songs in a band, speeches, cups and cabbages!
Marty, along with Ian Gough, the Wales lock forward, were there to help present the awards. They smiled, chatted, got involved and didn’t look to sneak off at the end of the evening. Their warm demeanour prevaded the whole clubhouse. They were down to earth and friendly.
Excellent…I have now have to follow that with my U9 presentation evening, under pressure from my other son!
Filed under: Dan Cottrell, Rugby Coaching, Rugby Training | Tags: coaching development, LTAD, LTPD, player development, rugby coaching aims
Coaching across all the age ranges gives you a good view of how players develop.
It is exciting, scary and frustrating.
If you have been on the coaching courses, then you will be well aware of the Long Term Athlete Development programme, or Player (see my debate on coaching players not athletes).
What the programme does tell you: build the level of competition gradually through the formative years so players pick up the skills.
What the programme does not tell you: you will come up against teams who ignore the programme, play a “winning” version of the game, don’t rotate their players and just give the ball to the big fast kid.
In these circumstances it can be tough to keep to what you believe in, if indeed you believe in development. My sense is that most people who read this blog fall into the development category, though are pretty competitive all the same and want to win more than they lose. I don’t see a problem in this. It is harder to lose and look for positives than win and have regrets.
Your priorities are tougher to define, because they are not based purely on results. You should have aims though. And those aims must be threefold.
Firstly, you should have a personal ambition. Where do you want to see yourself as a person in three to four years time. Your personal development is fundamental to what ever coaching you do.
Secondly, you should have a long term “team” ambition. That shapes how you train and prepare your team.
And lastly, and perhaps most difficult to implement because of the time involved, an aim for each player. Just saying that “I want every player to be able to pass of both hands by the end of the season” is too general. Players develop at such different rates that you need to have flexibility.
If you can work on the last aim, then brilliant. The second aim is probably already fixed in your mind. So your rugby coaching priority should be YOU and what you can do to improve.
Filed under: Dan Cottrell, ELVs, Rugby Coaching, Rugby Team Management | Tags: community rugby, ELVs, substitutions
Did you miss the most interesting ELV?
Under the radar of the ELV debate a very interesting law might well be getting an airing in the new season. It is aimed at the community game and for those of us who of us who have used it before, it has lots of competitive implications.
Rolling substitutes has been “recommended to the Rugby Committee”. This has arisen out of the ELV debate last week.
I have used this system when I was a school coach of an Under 18 team. It meant we could take players to a game with a guarantee of some game time for them.
No need to hold a substitute back for an injury. I used to rotate a front row player, so each prop would get a least two thirds of a game.
For me this is exactly what the community game needs. It involves players at the amateur level who give up their time to play.
Of course it is open to abuse. Why not have a specialist kicker who can’t tackle to roll on and off when it suits you. But if you are a team who want to do this, then so be it. The greater good will prevail because more players will still be involved.