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Coaching disabled people: Listen to the participants....

All coaches should be able to welcome disabled people into their club sessions: You just need your knowledge and experience of differentiation and be able to provide a confident and positive welcome to everyone that comes along.

We thought it might also help you to know what disabled people’s experiences of sport and being coached are. Surely that would help? We asked Leeds Met University to do some research for us – after all the best way to know how to support someone is to ask them.

We spoke to 14 people from all levels of playing sport – club level right up to Paralympians. We wanted to understand what they thought makes a good coach and what coaches could do better. The findings were not earth shattering but the report is well worth a read as it contains quotes from the survey respondents themselves.

“I go to disability sport football training and then I’m also at a local able-bodied club. For me this works, I get to play more, I get to play with very different people, I get challenged, I get different coach support. So, this works for me. The local club used to be a bit hit and miss but we’ve got a regular coach now and he’s got used to me. He was pretty nervous about having to coach me I could tell....” (John)

Have a look at The Coaching chain: Reflections of disabled athletes and coaches research now in the sports coach UK resource bank.

We’ve taken this information and put it into a handy infosheet – it has taken the points raised by disabled people in the survey and turned them into a few key points you should know:

  • Positive lessons to learn
  • Stop being so negative!
  • What disabled people want to see from the start of your session
  • What you can do during your session
  • ....and how you can develop further as an inclusive coach

“I loved PE at school but I always felt like the teachers’ didn’t love me! Well, it was my favourite subject but I pretty much felt ignored. I had a tough time convincing the teachers I could do everything in PE. They got it in the end but I had to battle with them and I don’t think that's the way it should be anymore.” (Mary)

Have a read: Coaching Disabled People: What Coaches Need to know. It will help dispel myths. Coaching disabled people isn’t all about coaching Paralympians and coaching a room full of disabled people. Disabled people have as much right to come to ‘mainstream’ sessions as all your other players. They might just need a bit more encouragement and confidence. Surely you can do that?