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Bad weather? There’s an app for that!

By Rachel Hooper, Coach Education Advisor, sports coach UK

Well, it seems that Spring is finally making some kind of attempt to appear. Not only has 2013 given us the coldest Easter on record, it’s also been one of the most challenging for coaches of outdoor sports. Frozen pitches, flooded rivers and dangerous winds are just a few of the challenges that the weather gods have thrown at us over the past 12 months. So many events have been cancelled, some participants have gone an entire season without competing. So how do you keep people involved in a sport when the weather means they can’t actually do the sport they want to do?

As a rowing coach I’m very much at the mercy of the elements. Not being able to get out on the water presents a unique set of challenges, particularly when it means you end up with the entire club battling to use our eight indoor rowing machines on a Sunday morning. There are only so many times you can watch the same DVD about technique although you tube does give a large library of updated clips at no cost. 

So how do you cope when you end up with twelve people all wanting to be coached on a Sunday morning when you can’t do what you planned? Having to implement plan B is always a challenge but I have found that increasingly there are more resources that I can use to support participants and keep them engaged in the sport as a whole, even when we’ve not got the facilities for them to do any do anything physical.

My preferred ‘tool’ is my ipad and the various coaching apps I use to enhance the development of participants. I can easily sit someone on the rowing machine for a minute and analyse their technique. Equally, we can spend the time analysing their performance and reflecting on their goals. 

Some of the apps I have used recently have enhanced my coaching in the areas of:

  • Observation and analysis of technique
  • Comparison between athletes
  • Race plans
  • Planning and goal setting
  • Performance profiling

My key message with regard to bad weather sessions is that your very last option should be to send people home. Think about what you’ve got available to get your participants involved in their long term development beyond just technical and tactical. Build up a bank of resources use them to help your athletes understand themselves a bit better too. Have a plan B, and plans C and D as well if you can!

Beyond the bad weather sessions, technology can really help in your own personal development as well. Online learning opportunities, social networking and sharing of good practise can all be done without having to move from your chair. I’ve found some of the online forums invaluable in finding new ideas for innovative delivery. Informal learning opportunities online are a great way to learn something new in bite size chunks.

The development of coaching apps is rapidly evolving market so keep an eye out for the latest ones in your app store. Sports coach UK have also compiled a report about technology to use in your coaching http://www.sportscoachuk.org/resource/technology-use-your-coachingwhich has provides a review of some of the more popular apps. If you’ve got any you’d like to recommend, why not add a comment?


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