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Technology in Action

Technology in Action
















by Steve Bentall, sports coach UK Coaching Network Manager

In previous blogs I’ve been looking at the onset of a digital world and what this means to coaches and learning providers. I thought it would be interesting to find an example from a coach who has embraced the use of technology. I took to Twitter and got chatting to Amir Williamson. Amir is 28 years old and a recently retired GB international hammer thrower. He is also a qualified UK Athletics coach and part of the National Coach Development Programme.

The technology Amir is using tends to focus on use of his smart phone or tablet as he has these with him at all times, supporting research that shows a growing trend to access learning where available via these devices. He goes onto say “I use the basics almost every day such as email and Whatsapp as it's a rapid way of communicating with the athletes I work with, coaches I mentor and colleagues”.

I found the use of a messaging app really interesting, as there is an increasing trend away from the pre-installed text message app towards other providers or in-app messaging. Recent research from Yahoo shows that messaging apps are used nearly five times more frequently each day than the combined usage of all other mobile apps. When thinking back to coaching and communicating with the digital natives, you have to establish what methods they are using to do this. One coach recently commented on a change of departure time for event “we’ll just tweet the athletes the new time” to which one of the athletes responded: “who uses Twitter these days? I’ll just Snapchat them all”.

When talking to Amir about the technology that he uses in coaching, he cites three main sources. Ubersense provides video analysis and instructions for sport, while he has found iThlete useful for athlete recovery. For his own CPD, Amir uses Twitter, supporting recent research that 87% of coaches learn on the job and predicting that up to 47% of coaches may start to use Twitter for learning in the future.

How do Amir’s athletes take to this use of technology? “They are happy to integrate technology into training as it’s part of everyday life. As with anything, technology is a tool. The phrase ‘the right tool, for the right job, at the right time’ springs to mind. It's important that any use (or not in some cases) of technology is used to aid my own development as a coach and/or to aid the development of the athletes.” If we relate this back to digital natives, we know that they like their information quickly, are able to multi-task, need pictures before words and function best when networked, the use of various forms of technology can only aid an athlete’s development.

Amir has also been involved in e-learning “which contained numerous documents to read and videos to watch. After that, I was ‘assessed’ by multiple choice questions... I passed.” When questioned further about this, he goes on to say “although the content was well documented and presented, I found the assessment was inappropriate for the subject being explored. If I was to invest more time into e-learning in future, I would look to identify the benefits vs the time investment.” As a keen consumer of CPD and user of technology in coaching, Amir still finds that his CPD is focussed around professional discussions and reading performance related books. He finishes by saying “technology in coaching is a great tool. As with anything, however, the problems lie with under/over use. I have had to find a happy medium.”

Have you found your happy medium using technology? Leave a comment or tweet me to let me know your thoughts.

Posted 23 June 2015


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