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UK Coaching Participation Team
Developing Mindsets

How to Coach People New To Your Session

When welcoming new people to your session, it is important to think about them as individuals with individual needs and motivations. These tips can help you on your way

Your role as coach can influence people’s successful engagement and return attendance. The following tips are provided as a suggestion for better meeting the needs of people new to your session.

Develop Connections

Evidence shows that helping people connect with other people, developing social relationships and the local community around them are all important to improving people’s well-being. Coaches can create strong connections and social relationships by being supportive, encouraging and meaningful in all interactions. (Five ways to well-being, new economic foundation)

Helping People Get Better

Getting better is commonly listed as a reason for why people take part. It may not be the first reason for getting involved but it is common for people once they are feeling more confident to want to get better and improve what they are able to do.

Ways to help people get better include:

  • Skill development – some people will be happy to just get started without any new skills being taught at the beginning of the session. Others will like to have something small each week to focus on. Many will want to have an individual or small-group demonstration or explanation. Consider how you will manage these different styles within your session.
  • Be able to explain the main concepts (the big picture) of your activity/game. Not all people will want to know all the specific rules straight away. Think about how you could explain the key areas of the game so everyone can start playing together as soon as possible.
  • Try including Fundamentals for low-skilled groups. Fundamentals aren’t just for children and can easily be adapted and included in sessions as part of warm-up activities or skill development sessions.

Ways to help people connect include:

  • Introduce people each time someone new joins your session and learn names quickly. Name stickers might be helpful if it is a completely new session and no one knows each other at all.
  • Provide phone/email/messaging/social media details for people to get in contact if they need to. Encourage people to use these to communicate with you and each other outside sessions.
  • Plan time into your session for socialising; consider making this part of your recovery and rest periods. Take part in this socialising time yourself and use the time to get to know your group. Encourage people to stay and chat after the session. Don’t rush off – if you have the time, stay and chat.
  • Think about having regular family and friends’ sessions to include people’s ‘circle of influence’. It is also a great opportunity to recruit new people to your sessions, as well as celebrating the success of people who already attend with people who are important to them.

Getting Commitment to Sessions

To build an active nation, coaches need to be able to help people develop a ‘taking part’ habit. Building a new habit takes time with no quick fixes or easy solutions.

Coaches need to regularly look at what they are doing that helps people stay involved as well as come back after a period of non-attendance.

Ways to help people commit include:

  • Offer low commitment and drop-in-style sessions with minimal paperwork or registrations to be completed before starting the sessions
  • Help people set goals that match up with their reasons for attending sessions. Encourage people to share these with family and friends
  • Provide meaningful feedback. Avoid having junk feedback or praise. Feedback needs to be specific to the individual and their goals and aspirations
  • Reward and incentivise people to take up and continue positive and active behaviours.  Find out what rewards and incentives people would like and be creative in how you provide them. They don’t always need to be a ‘thing’ but could be an in- house event, a private compliment or a public thank you
  • Have people put your session in their diary – paper or electronic – as it helps people plan and commit to attending your session. Remind them at the end of session when the next session will be and what you might be doing in the session
  • Update any social media used as part of your sessions with a brief summary of the session. This will help people who haven’t attended due to illness or work commitments to still feel connected and encourage return attendance
  • Get in touch with people if you haven’t seen them for a few sessions. Sometimes providing this little spark of encouragement means someone feels more comfortable in coming back, especially if they think that they won’t be as good as everyone else as they’ve missed a few sessions. Know that lapsing is common and normal, and that it is the role of a coach to support people to make the activity lapses shorter and less frequent.

Related Content

  • Bringing New Players into Your Team

  • How to Attract New Female Participants to Your Sessions

  • Inject More Fun into Your Coaching


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UK Coaching Participation Team