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07 Jun 2021 77

Why Organisations Should Leap at the Chance of Booking a UK Coaching Workshop

We examine how Leap, the Active Partnership for Buckinghamshire and Milton Keynes, is making full use of the catalogue of courses UK Coaching has available to help grow their coaches’ soft skills

We truly believe that the face-to-face workshops we deliver to approximately 20,000 people every year provide the country’s coaching workforce with an unparalleled range of effective quality training.

We pride ourselves on achieving – on all our workshops and online courses – the optimal blend of high-level academic theory and fun, engaging practical sessions.

In line with an ever-evolving coaching landscape, we also endeavour to make sure our coach education workshops reflect the latest cutting-edge trends, research and thinking.

Yes, we would say that, wouldn’t we. But don’t just take our word for it.

Shay Fenlon is the Workforce Lead at Leap, the Active Partnership for Buckinghamshire and Milton Keynes. He is responsible for upskilling the county’s coaching workforce so that they have the knowledge to operate confidently and competently in their chosen setting.

With Leap among our most committed repeat customers, we wanted to find out from Shay if he thinks our workshops succeed in equipping coaches with the diverse range of skills and innovative strategies they need.

Leap know that the common success factor in any form of engagement with people is first-rate interpersonal skills, and this, says Shay, is where UK Coaching workshops really come into their own.

“One of our key themes is to support more people delivering sport and activity to have those softer skills. This in turn can help engage inactive people,” explains Shay.

Coaches need to have those soft skills if they are to build relationships and to have conversations with people from various backgrounds and different abilities.

For example, to understand the individual wants and needs of a person with a long-term health condition when they come to a session, the coach needs to be able to engage and communicate with that individual effectively and build a good rapport.

“A lot of the UK Coaching workshops are themed around building those softer skills, so, Behaviour Change Tactics, Inclusive Activity Programme, Coaching the Person in Front of You, the Mental Health Awareness for Sport and Physical Activity+ eLearning all help us achieve our outcomes.

“We see these courses providing coaches with the knowledge, skills and behaviours they should have in their coaching toolkit, so we really push them and try to get as many people on as possible.”

A question of priorities

The 43 Active Partnerships across England have a detailed understanding of their local patch and will prioritise different objectives and outcomes within their Sport England-funded workforce strategies based on local need.

These will be influenced by both shifting and static factors including the demographics of their communities, social and economic factors, health trends, population density, prevalence of green space, plus a host of other determinants unique to each county.

In Buckinghamshire and Milton Keynes, Shay explains there are four main challenges that are impacting the activity levels of local residents:

  • Emotional and mental well-being – “Data shows that both locally and nationally, the number of people living with poor mental well-being has increased. The benefits of regular activity on an individual’s mental well-being is unequivocal, so physical activity has a key role to play in prevention and management.”
  • Rural inequalities – “Although Bucks and Milton Keynes is relatively affluent, it has rural areas and pockets of deprivation. This has led to significant health, social and activity level inequalities.”
  • The challenge of large-scale housing growth – “There is significant housing and population growth planned for Milton Keynes and Aylesbury. It’s important that we ensure the new communities that are created have opportunities to engage in physical activity; as much to build social cohesion as for the health and well-being benefits.”
  • An ageing population – “Estimates expect the county population of residents aged 65+ to increase by between 30-45% in the next 10 years. More importantly we know that inactive people generally spend longer in ill health at the end of their lives.”

For Leap, the aim is to improve the lives of local residents through physical activity and sport – particularly for people who are completely inactive as they experience the greatest benefits.

Workforce is a golden thread that runs through all their work areas and whichever target audience Leap are working with to become more active, great coaching is key.

Shay adds: “Local coaches may already have some specific knowledge of how to engage with the type of group they are working with. But by attending a UK Coaching course, it gives them that deeper insight into how to engage with people, providing them with a toolkit of transferable skills and strategies that can be adapted to any given situation – thereby increasing their versatility and ensuring they have the greatest possible impact with all their participants.”

‘We ask people what they want’

In addition to working towards achieving these primary goals, Leap conduct an annual workforce survey, the results of which determine which other UK Coaching courses the Active Partnership run during the year, and how often they run them.

“We normally get between 100 and 120 responses. Within that, we ask them what sort of topics they want us to cover in the coming year as part of our coach education.”

And there are other benefits to using UK Coaching. By becoming a licensed workshop partner, Leap are able to deliver tailored content, on a day of their choosing.

“This saves us money,” says Shay. “And because we also have a WebEx licence, if we are not entirely sure what the interest level might be for a workshop, we might get the workshop tutor to host a 45-minute WebEx to introduce a topic – for example behaviour change – and then tell people that if they enjoyed it, we will be holding a two-hour Behaviour Change Tactics workshop in so many weeks’ time that they can book on to.

“This method of signposting UK Coaching courses as further learning has worked well for us.”

Leap use UK Coaching tutors to run the majority of their courses.

“We are really lucky that we have two really good lead tutors in our opinion who are based fairly locally in Adam Colley and Kam Raval,” says Shay.

Leap view the impact of great workshop tutors in the same way that participants view the benefits of having a great coach.

If participants go along to a session and the coach does a good job, they are more likely to come back the following week. It’s the same for our courses: if the tutor does a good job, then the learners are far more likely to attend another course with us again.”

Positive feedback from coaches

This, of course, is music to our ears, because our tutors play such a critical role in helping us deliver on our aspiration to help coaches be the best that they can be, so that they can deliver the best experience for their participants and help them achieve their best.

We have a strong working relationship with Leap, but it was still reassuring to hear Shay reveal that the feedback they receive on their social media channels from coaches who have taken our courses is typically “very positive”.

“We see the feedback people give on their UK Coaching post-workshop evaluation form,” adds Shay, "and that is really interesting for us, as it allows us to see that consistency of experience people are having. They are generally scored 8, 9 or 10 and I can’t remember seeing one where there has been bad feedback.

“And that’s another reason why we continue to work with UK Coaching and use your courses.”

More anecdotal evidence that, by registering coaches on our workshops, your local workforce will likely come on in leaps and bounds.

If you want help with your coach development programmes, then please get in touch with us to discuss your requirements.

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