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Nine ways to introduce coaches to #TechWorld

Steve Bentall, a Coaching Network Manager for sports coach UK, continues with his second blog on #TechWorld and how the use of technology can enhance coaching at all levels.

In our previous blog Erki Tarro and I were looking at coaches taking the leap into #TechWorld which prompted some interesting discussion.

As an introduction to #TechWorld, Erki has come up with nine top tips for the use of technology in coaching.

  1. Start with an open mind and a simple willingness to try and better yourself. There was a time when remote controls for TV were a difficult concept to grasp but you probably couldn’t imagine your life without one anymore. Being an early adopter helps you stay ahead of the pack.
  2. Define your needs and research the technology. Find out where are you lacking, what needs to be changed? If you’re hopelessly overworked, you will have a hard time raising your training quality and will probably need to concentrate on saving time and being more efficient, especially with on administrative tasks. If you feel like you have some extra time to spare, then looking for opportunities to increase your training quality such as adding more analysis functions will work suit you better. After defining the needs, it’s wise to spend some time just googling for possibilities to save you time on testing products that don’t even suit your needs.
  3. Go for the easier, smaller things first. Having detailed statistics or super-high quality video to share with parents and athletes may be a nice thing to have, but when it takes more from you than it gives back, it’s not worth it. Essential features such as easier messaging to keep in touch with your athletes are easy to adopt and can work wonders to help your coaching.
  4. Get someone tech savvy to help you make the initial step with you. Especially for older coaches, technology is just not something they’re that used to, so getting someone to get you started on the basics is really useful. Whether it’s a coach you know, an athlete or someone else, don’t be afraid to ask for assistance. Talking with other coaches about the products they might be using will also help you explore new opportunities to grow.
  5. Ask for assistance. Every piece of software (or hardware) you’re going to use has someone behind it, building it for you and appreciating every piece of feedback you give them to help you along and make their product better. Writing to your car company will not change the design of your new Audi, but for software and other technology, a few clicks can improve your experience a lot. The developers will be very happy to hear your questions and the thing bothering you can be solved in seconds.
  6. Head over to YouTube to find tutorials. A lot of coaches are already using YouTube videos to find new skills and drills and improve their coaching. The same can be done with technology adoption as most of the stuff you’re going to use have how-to videos and instructions up there. You’d be surprised how many people haven’t realised it yet!
  7. Spot the difference between consumer and professional products. A lot of coaches find apps or tech tailored for consumer markets too vague for their needs. For example, recreational cyclists might find apps like Strava great because of its community and gamification features, but to strive for elite results, most cyclists prefer technologies like SRM which give better and more accurate data. Find what suits you best because the opportunities really are endless.
  8. Keep adding new weapons to your arsenal as your level grows. Coaching is all about your athletes’ continuous progress and your own progress shouldn’t be any different. After solving the most burning problems, you might yourself in a better position to develop other areas of your coaching as well. From our own experience working with football clubs, we’ve found how their first and foremost issues lie with membership management as the clubs consist of several hundred members. However, after getting one mess under control, the clubs have started to move into new fields such as advanced training planning that wasn’t even possible before when their time was consumed by simple management processes!
  9. Remember, you’re already using technology so it’s not that overwhelming at all! Most likely, you have a smartphone, a computer and you definitely have internet at your hands. You’ve learned to use them to make your life simpler. What’s stopping you from learning something new now?

In the end, technology in itself won’t make you a better coach, but it’s a tool that helps you develop. Willingness to try is all it takes.