Working in Partnership with England Squash & Racketball
As the National Governing Body, England Squash & Racketball’s aim is to develop the sport throughout the country within their eight regions. Amanda Robinson is the Regional Manager for the South, she also works nationally to ensure the regions include disability groups.
Inclusion of disabled participants is a key element of their four year whole sport plan (2013 - 2017); the three focus strands are deaf squash - a pilot project has already started, racketball for people with learning disabilities and squash/racketball for people suffering from mental health disorders. There are currently World, European and National championships, but little in the way of grass roots development for the sport. Consequently there are only a handful of players currently involved in deaf squash in England. England Squash & Racketball’s aim is to create a pathway into and through the sport to get more deaf people playing.
UK Deaf Sport put Amanda in touch with UK Coaching who offered the chance to pilot their workshop; Effective Communication: Coaching Deaf People in Sport. Amanda felt that the workshop would be a good contribution to their whole sport plan because up-skilling coaches would be the best starting point. She contacted the network of regional managers and administrators to ask for details of local coaches who would be interested in the workshop and publicised the workshop to 1,500 people through the South’s regional newsletter.
The workshop was attended by a range of coaches from Level 1 to Level 4. It focussed on how they adapt and deliver their coaching to meet individual needs, and addressed the apprehension they may feel about coaching people who are deaf or hard of hearing.
The feedback from the Effective Communication: Coaching Deaf People in Sport pilot was very positive; many of the coaches were inspired to go away and work with deaf people in future. One coach, who also attended a British Sign Language course, updated his website to make it clear that his sessions are deaf inclusive, to reassure any potential players that the sessions would be suitable for all.
There were several practical elements that the coaches found really useful including a Chinese whispers game and a charades-style exercise which highlighted the importance of clear actions and mouthing a word rather than just relying on gestures. Some of the coaches commented that they would be able to use what they had learnt in any session, not just for the benefit of deaf players, as using clear actions and visual aids can benefit any participant.
‘This workshop was a fantastic experience and has increased my confidence to coach deaf or hard of hearing people. Understanding the techniques around non-verbal communication has been invaluable and has helped my everyday coaching sessions. Whatever sport you coach I’d recommend you attend this workshop.’
Brian Ward, Fair Oak Squash Club
From a Governing Body point of view, Amanda and her team are looking at how they can incorporate elements of the workshop into their new Level 1 coaching course. They are also looking at ensuring their coaches are more deaf aware and are researching common sports signs to make sure the same signs are being used across the country. Amanda noted that this formalisation of specific signs was a significant step forward for the organisation.
‘I would absolutely recommend UK Coaching's Effective Communication: Coaching Deaf People in Sport workshop - it was a very good course; practical and useful. It up-skilled the coaches and gave them ideas that they could start using straightaway; it really inspired them. We have lots more coaches that we’d like to attend this workshop.’
Amanda Robinson, Regional Manager for the South,
England Squash & Racketball