jmcilroy's blog

Why grassroots football coaches are better than the Premier League

As the Premier League kicks off this week I’m sure we’re in for another season of coaches behaving badly. This is probabaly the result of working in a highly stressful, results orientated job where your every move is scrutinised and talked about. However the danger is that this becomes the way people view all football coaches which our research suggests would do grassroots coaches a great disservice.

Looks or skill?

I read an article recently that described how decisions to provide funding online can be influenced by looks.

An analysis of activity on Kiva (a website that allows people to invest small sums in low-income entrepreneurs around the world) showed that people rated more attractive got on average $60 more than average (around $700) while those overweight or dark skinned received around $65 or $40 less respectively.

coaching continues to have a very positive impact on participants

Our Research Consultant Michael talks about his latest work on year two of a four year research project.

The 2015 Participant Survey reinforces many of the positive messages we identified in the first year’s research. In short, coaching continues to have a very positive impact.

However, this year we went a little deeper and spoke to some people by phone. What we found was evidence that proves time is the major barrier to continued sports participation.

Five ways to help new players into your team

When players come into a new team they have a multitude of worries. How will they fit in with their new teammates? What is expected of them? When will they break into the first team? We recently found new research from Canada that suggested you could apply business theories known as organisational socialisation to make the process easier.

Overall the researchers found five key themes any coach should think about:

What one thing would make coaches feel better supported?

Over the past eight years or so of surveying coaches we have often asked them what could be done to make them feel more supported. This year we looked at all these ideas and came up with a shortlist that we then asked coaches to choose from. 3,500 coaches answered the question and the most popular option was…

Access to a more experienced coach from time to time

Coaching on the Tour de France

I recently read David Walsh’s book Inside Team Sky which was an enlightening journey around France with a professional cycling team. On this occasion things were not going so well for Team Sky and by the first rest day it was time to re-assess the situation.

As all the riders went out for a training ride, team principle Dave Brailsford rode with them and one-by-one riders would drop back to chat with him. From this Brailsford was able to assess the feeling among his riders and work out a new plan.

Who have you been coached by in your life?

BLUE = male coach  RED=female coach

When we looked at who plays sport and who they are being coached by we found that male and female participants will have a different experience of coaching as they grow up.

For boys and men their experience is almost wholly with a male coach. For girls and women the options are greater. Two thirds of girls are coached by women but as they grow older the proportion of female coaches in their life will decrease.

How coaching makes a difference

People often ask ‘does coaching make a difference?’ or ‘how can we tell coaching makes an impact?’

One of the ways to answer this is to ask the people on the receiving end, the participants. This is exactly what we did in 2004 and 2015 (in surveys of 10,000 people and 2,000 people respectively). As you can see from the interactive graphic below the percentage of participants who believe coaching makes sport more enjoyable increased from 53% to 81% over the 11 years.

Coaches are doing more CPD than ever

Our latest research has found the very promising statistics that 84% of coaches had undertaken some form of continuing personal development (CPD) in the last 12 months. This figure is higher than 2014 when 76% of coaches had undertaken CPD. The results show that although the majority of coaches are volunteers with many different priorities in their life, they are still committing time to think about their development.

What will happen now more coaches are starting later in life?

Our latest research has shown that since 2008 the average age at which people start coaching has increased from 26 to 30. This has been caused primarily by fewer young people under 24 coming into coaching and staying involved (down from 50% to 40%). The effect of this change will only become clear over a longer period of time but it is possible to foresee a knock-on impact on retention.

We are already starting to see a greater emphasis on people entering coaching through their children. Two pieces of research spring to mind:

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