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UK Coaching Marketing and Communications Team

UK Coaching Conference 2018: Live Blog

Coaching: The Next Generation. Keep up to date with learning from the event as it happens.

So Long, Farewell, Thank You, See you Next Year

That's a wrap for the UK Coaching Conference 2018!

Thank you so much for joining, if  not in person, then online via this blog.

We hope you've enjoyed the coverage across our channels. Please continue to share your #NextGenCoaching thoughts.

Reaching Your Coaching Workforce using Digital Skills – Gori Yahaya

Gori Yahaya makes digital look easy. 

Standing in front of a largely not digitally specialised audience, Gori was able to break down the simple steps that any coach can take to better their online availability and brand presence. 

Concentrating on expanding our skills in three key area, Gori walked us through;

  • Building your presence both online and locally
  • Managing your own presence online
  • Building an online community of your own

The general population are utilising the internet in a whole different way these days, and Gori held our hand through the landscapes of Social Media, Online Navigation and the growth of e-commerce. 
BUT -  how do we use these new, expanding, avenues to our own brands advantage?

By making yourself a brand online. 
Gori taught us how to utilise the tools available to our advantage to make sure that people can find us online …and that the information they DO find, is correct. We saw tools such as trend data, SEO trackers, Test My Site …and the many more. 

You may now be thinking, “what is SEO?” … but the people leaving Gori’s session today were not, much to his credit.

What can coaches learn from youth work approaches – Scottish Sports Futures

Scottish Sports Futures (SSF) is charity dedicated to changing lives in some of Scotland’s most challenging communities through sport.  Katie and Daryl from SSF delivered a session full of practical examples of how they have applied youth work approaches in training coaches to engage young people in sport. 

Sharing real-life stories of coaches who’ve had an impact of the lives of young people in their local communities, both on and off the pitch, Kirsty and Daryl presented a compelling picture of how the role of a coach can extend way beyond sport. 

Daryl himself benefitted from this work.  SSF used the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow in 2014 to bring together youth and sports organisations in the East End of Glasgow and Daryl volunteered, taking part in the closing ceremony of the Games and then joining the charity to ensure a real legacy was delivered for his local community.

The overriding message from the session was that relationships are critical to the success of this kind of work. 

“We’ve got to invest in our people, believe in them and put them at the heart of everything we do.  Then we can help young people to be the best they can be.”

Scottish Sports Futures (SSF) is charity dedicated to changing lives in some of Scotland’s most challenging communities through sport.  Katie and Daryl from SSF delivered a session full of practical examples of how they have applied youth work approaches in training coaches to engage young people in sport. 

Sharing real-life stories of coaches who’ve had an impact of the lives of young people in their local communities, both on and off the pitch, Kirsty and Daryl presented a compelling picture of how the role of a coach can extend way beyond sport. 

Daryl himself benefitted from this work.  SSF used the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow in 2014 to bring together youth and sports organisations in the East End of Glasgow and Daryl volunteered, taking part in the closing ceremony of the Games and then joining the charity to ensure a real legacy was delivered for his local community.

The overriding message from the session was that relationships are critical to the success of this kind of work. 

“We’ve got to invest in our people, believe in them and put them at the heart of everything we do.  Then we can help young people to be the best they can be.”

Keynote Three: Digitising to Reach the Next Generation - Gori Yahaya

As Alexander Pope once observed, ‘swift fly the years’. Well, hours and days apply here but the sentiment remains the same… already the final keynote of the 2018 UK Coaching Conference has been and gone.

It was Gori Yahaya’s turn to take to the stage in front of 300 delegates.

Head of training and development for the Digital Garage from Google, Gori has over 10 years of experience consulting and training many small and medium-sized enterprises, charities, business owners, entrepreneurs and students to boost their digital skills and harness the power of the internet and Google tools effectively to drive growth for their business.

In a nutshell: he helps people get to grips with the digital age.

As Gori points out, ‘life is online’ – to the midst of laughter as delegates readily admit they spend more than five hours browsing, surfing or scrolling.

He reassured the audience, however, digital platforms like Twitter Facebook and the rest of the motley crew are there to amplify information, not, he believes, to replace offline communication (everyday face-to-face communication to you and me).
It’s there to help not hinder.

He wanted coaches and of course, the coaching system workforce, coach development workforce and senior decision makers in sport and physical activity to understand that having the world at their fingertips is no bad thing. The only drawback? There can be too much ‘fake’ information to sift through.
One way to stay on top of the curve is to use technology – no irony there. By using Google Alerts, for example, is just one way coaches’ can get the latest coaching trends delivered straight to their inbox.

Divulging further, Gori then offered up his top digital tools for coaches (and the sector) to further engage participants:

  1. WhatsApp – a useful collaboration tool, enabling users to form groups and share ideas.
  2. YouTube – for sharing snappy pieces of (coaching) information through video (demonstrated quite appropriately to delegates via the story of Julius Yego, a Kenyan track and field athlete who competes in javelin and nicknamed "Mr. YouTube" because he learned how to throw by watching YouTube videos of javelin athletes and coaches).
  3. Slack – similar to WhatsApp but for more formal (work) collaborations. The platform is a single place for messaging, tools and files.

Overall, Gori’s message to delegates was to blend technology and face to face interaction. By his own admission: when preparing for a triathlon, he used WhatsApp to share his training experiences with fellow participants; YouTube to work on his technique; but it was the face-to-face interaction with people, his coaches that underpinned his desire to improve.

Player Development: Challenging Traditional Thinking – Nick Cox

Manchester United Academy Operations Manager Nick Cox admits football academies face some fundamental challenges and must make fundamental changes to the way they design and operate their player development programmes.

It was standing room only in a full to capacity changing room at the Oriam, a fitting venue where Nick said that it is incumbent on academy coaches to realise football is a big piece of what the players do, BUT IT IS ONLY A PIECE of what they do. The emphasis should not be on solely creating wonderful performers but on creating wonderful people too.

‘We court players from the ages of 5 to 9, train twice a day, seven days a week, with constant assessment. That’s what we do. But I don’t believe the current system works,’ says Nick. He says of aspiring to create a controlled, neat ‘Talent Factory’ environment where young adults come in and elite athletes come out: ‘That’s great for the adults who work there but there are serious implications of that way of thinking.

‘We need to make connections, build relationships, think more about the lifelong journeys the players are on. It shouldn’t be a conveyor-belt. The aim should be creating a decent person regardless of if they become an elite footballer.’

His conclusions: Let’s develop the person and the performer will follow, and, let’s develop happy young people who want to engage in a lifetime of sport.

A Coach-Centred Approach to Developing the Next Generation of Coaches in Scotland - Ruari Davidson and Sandy Hodge.

The question posed at the start of the session was what makes an effective coach? The group were asked to identify the main characteristics they think a good coach should have.

Sandy and Ruari discussed the framework of coach development in Scotland and how sportscotland have worked with Sport Governing Bodies and other partners to develop a coaching framework, an approach that has proved successful in developing coaching in Scotland. 

A point that was stressed heavily was the awareness that developments in technology will help improve how coaches learn, interact and share information in future.

Welfare and Well-being of Young Performance Athletes – David Turner and Anne Tiivas OBE

Two sub-themes to this year’s coaching conference (the main theme Coaching: The Next Generation) is understanding the growing child and welfare. Topics of huge interest and importance to the coaching, and indeed, the sport and physical activity sector at large.

It was just as well two stalwarts of that world – UK Coaching’s children’s lead David Turner and director of the NSPCC’s Child Protection in Sport Unit Anne Tiivas OBE – were on hand to present the Welfare and Well-being of Young Performance Athletes session.

Off the back of Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson’s Duty of Care Report, David explained to delegates that ‘now’ was a fantastic time to be focussing on safeguarding young elite and high performance athletes. Currently, a strategic group, coordinated by UK Coaching, is working to develop a set of proposals for safeguarding and protecting the aforementioned.

Delegates worked in pairs to discuss the threats and challenges, as well as the themes that surround the protection of talented and elite young athletes and to cap the session off they were shown an emotive video, highlighting how important a role a coach plays as a person a child or young person can go and talk to.

As Anne Tiivas concluded, ‘it’s about giving coaches the confidence to take the conversation’.

Supporting the Progression of Female Coaches - Laura Kerr

Female and gender equality in the world of business has been high profile in the media recently but what is the world of sport and physical activity doing to address this?

Northern Ireland athletics started to look at the female coach split back in 2014. Insight showed 42% of coaches were female, something to be happy about….but digging further into the data only 8% of females were coaching independently without direct supervision, working out to just 1% per club across the country…..

So, what where the barriers to female coaches progressing on the coaching pathway? Well asking female coaches was the first step. The answer which came out was time most female coaches are volunteers limiting time, IT, confidence, technical knowledge, unclear development pathways, club structure and male dominated talent coaches they couldn’t relate with.

Laura the coach education lead found female coaches don’t want to be excluded to female only events with lack of interaction, they just want diverse ways of learning.

Coaching is a craft which learning should happen in a real environment which is what NI athletics wanted to create. Communities of practice for coaches at every stage of learning were set up, one successful example was linking them to athletics development camps, which coaches had set time as part of the camp to connect.

Identity and Personal Development in Professional Football - Chris McCready

How well can our delegates build a table in 10 minutes using just newspaper, scissors and Sellotape? That was the task set by Manchester United’s Chris McCready.

Besides offloading some of Scotland’s finest confectionary to the winners, the point of this task lied in the analogy that no table stands stable with one pillar of support, they need many pillars behind them to stop them from falling and so do aspiring professional footballers.

If you’re an 18-year-old academy player and your life revolves around football as a ‘24/7 footballer’, what happens if football fails and you have no pillars to fall back on?

With the temptation for academy players to throw all their eggs in the football basket, Chris encourages others to consider his theory of ‘and vs either/or’ – an idea that young people shouldn’t have to sacrifice everything for their footballing career as instead they benefit from having a broader identity and more pillars to their table.

Chris uses relatable examples of recognisable footballers including Harry Kane, Leo Messi and Juan Mata, who besides progressing professionally, have developed broader traits to their identity without detriment to their footballing talent.

Insight to the Next Generation – Alex Stacey

We’ve all been guilty of it (at least those of a certain age!): Millennial-bashing. Alex set out to dispel a few of the myths and labels associated with the Millennial generation (1983-2000) and Generation Z (2001-18). We live in a social media age and it is important to be aware of the characteristics, attitudes and communication habits of these two generations and why social media is so relevant to them.

Delegates were asked by Alex – the Performance Pathway Education Lead from the English Institute of Sport – to examine where they sit on the social medium spectrum, and their awareness of popular communication platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest, WhatsApp and Snapchat. How social media savvy are you? Are you digitally naïve? Do you know what FOMO and FOLO mean (answer below*)?

This self-awareness task is important as coaches should be aware of how the brains of the new generation digital natives work so they are able to relate to them, engage with them better, communicate effectively and understand them fully. It’s not a case of adopting their habits, simply a willingness to adapt and paying attention to what young people want and like. Of course, it’s important not to lose sight of the importance of traditional face-to-face communication, but coaches must also be asking themselves what is best for the people they are there to support, and that may mean evolving with the times.

*Fear of missing out / Fear of living offline.

Transforming Learning, Transforming Lives – UK Coaching team

What do you want to learn? That was the first question from UK Coaching’s DLO Modern Learning, Mark Scott – inviting delegates to share what they want to learn to kick off this engaging session.

Delegates were offered insight into UK Coaching’s new learning model, focused on a model of connectivity that is currently being developed to help transforming learning for coaches.

Quite an ambitious challenge but one that UK Coaching is focused on driving forward by creating a more connected way of learning.

But, what does this new model look like … 

Connected Experiences

To develop confident, independent and reflective coaches with a thirst for learning and a desire for personal and professional growth.

We want coaches to take responsibility for their own learning, and want to continue to develop and explore ways to connect with their own learning.

Connected Communities

To develop strong learning connections between coaches and the participants and the communities that they serve.

Coach the person in front of you. (Remember that #GreatCoaching = PEOPLE, as per UK Coaching’s Principles of Great Coaching!)

Connected People

To build strong social learning community, where coaches connect and learn from each other through co-operation and supportive peer relationships.
Connected Content

To provide engaging learning content that is connected and relevant to the individual, as well as to the environment and practice.

Connected Experiences

To develop deep connections with partners and to support them to create learning and improvement cultures within their own organisations.

Delegates were then offered the chance to engage with each other to learn, share and importantly – connect! Hopefully they will come away from this with the desire, and tools, to be able to go and continue their development, connect and ultimately help to transform lives through #GreatCoaching.

Coaching the Person in Front of You – UK Coaching Participation Team

This is the UK’s biggest coaching conference so one would expect to find a few left-of-field presentations.

The conference programme explains that the session is about developing coaches to provide awe inspiring experiences by identifying the needs of people; creating positive environments and lasting connections; and empowering people to thrive.

Sounds straightforward enough. But how?

Well through whodunit, play dough and zombies.

Yea, you read that right.

The point? Well as Liz Burkinshaw – member of the Participation team and presenter – said:

“it’s easy to miss something you’re not looking for. You can’t make a judgement on one observation. It takes time to make real connections to understand each other.”

Yea, all well and good, but zombies?

Okay, the activities were merely a way to get the delegates to work cohesively – in a time frame and away from sport and physical activity (ie without prescribed thinking and approaches).

In essence, the activities got the delegates to think from a coach’s perspective: Coach’s coach groups of individuals (more often than not), who each have their own personalities, strengths and perceived weaknesses.

The person-centred mindset allows the coach to prioritise the individual not the sport or physical activity, nor the performance. By better understanding one another, the coach and participant create a strong connection. You do that for each individual in a group and the environment automatically becomes one in which they all can thrive. And escape from a zombie apocalypse.

iCoachKids - Dr Sergio Lara-Bercial

A competitive game of rock, paper scissors and an explanation of the origin of the world ‘coach’ got everyone engaged immediately at the session with Dr Sergio Lara-Bercial at today’s UK Coaching Conference.

Sergio lead the group through a thought-provoking session on how to coach children, from changing cultures to climbing trees - it was all covered!  Based on a Pan-European free e-Learning project “iCoachKids”, which Sergio has been instrumental in developing, the participants were challenged to think about the primary functions of a coach and how they can create the right environment to encourage children to stay involved and develop a life-long love of sport.

“Children are not mini adults.  Try to see sport through the eyes of a child and don’t let learning get in the way of fun.”

Physical Development: A Foundation for Progression - Katrina Gibbon

Katrina started by encouraging the group to split into teams and lead each other in a warm up that each coach might use for their sport. With time for reflection as to why that is effective and to decide if any ideas could be shared between sports.

Coaches were encouraged to think critically about other exercises they would give their athletes and discuss what each exercise hopes to achieve, with the focus being on ensuring each one had a clear purpose within a training session.

The groups then coached each other through various reflex drills, sharing ideas of how each could benefit athletes in different sports.

Katrina offered her expertise on how several key muscular exercises which can be easily integrated into a basic warm up can prove to be crucial for injury prevention across all sports.

Creating the ‘Right’ Environment - Justine Allen

Whether you’re a coach or a coach developer, each environment we work in varies depending on the particular challenges we face.

In this workshop session led by the University of Stirling’s Dr Justine Allen, delegates explored how to create the ‘right’ coaching environment for their participants as a means of maximising their learning experience.

Explaining what might be the ‘right’ environment for one group may not necessarily be ‘right’ for another, Justine however outlined that all successful learning environments have at its heart the following elements:

  • Competence
  • Autonomy
  • Elatedness

“People learn best when they feel competent, have a sense of autonomy and feel connected to others.”

Topics on conversation amongst delegates included what happens when people make mistakes in their group and how individuals in their group are supported with tasks/activities.

Developing Resilient Young People – Jess Callaghan

Who do you turn to in times of stress? What was a recent problem that you tackled successfully? What is your biggest strength in times of high stress? Can you name a resource that you can access to solve a problem?

Not easy questions to answer but ones delegates were asked as an opening gambit in the workshop of Senior Tutor Developer for StreetGames, Jess Callaghan.

After sharing ideas on what their definition of resilience is and how coaches can help build it in their athletes, delegates’ feedback was put to the test through a series of imaginative activities that included a magic carpet and a blindfolded trust walk. All under the direction and guidance of Jess.

In terms of resilience definitions, these included: Dealing with failure and learning from that; bouncing back (a favourite buzz word associated with resilience); it’s not about WHAT you’ve experienced in life up to this point it’s HOW you have experienced it; it’s around coping strategies so you can bounce back and reflect on how to build on that and learn from it. And how can a coach help create a safe and trusting environment, which is such an important foundation on which to build resilience? A coach should be someone who listens and is constructive when feeding back, said Jess.

Building that trusting relationship, meanwhile, allows you to be able to talk to participants on a deeper level to find out how they are feeling and what their individual needs are.

Pictured here is a delegate on the ‘trust walk’ taking direction from their partner.

Day Two - Let's Go!

Good morning from Scotland's Sports Performance Centre!

We're ready to go with a second day of coaching learning at the UK Coaching Conference. The delegates are here, the speakers are raring to go and the sessions are about to kick off. Stay tuned for the highlights....

That's all folks...

...well until tomorrow anyway. It's been a pleasure to bring you this live blog from day one of the UK Coaching Conference. Stay tuned for day two, starting tomorrow, early doors. 

But between now and then it's time to get our cèilidh on. Oh flower of Scotland...

Keynote 2 - Emma Doyle

Emma Doyle started an energetic and heartfelt keynote by taking us back to the start of her book. 

Chapter One of her story in coaching. Volunteering as a coach in a Woman’s Youth Detention Centre. A rather unique beginning for any coach!

Prior to her first session, having spent the time to arrange a long thought out circuits session, Emma was horrified to see her participants simply grab the tennis racquets she had laid out and begin to fire tennis balls in every direction. 

Out of panic, Emma began to encourage them – embracing the chaos. 

However, what Emma didn’t know at the time, was she had just discovered a piece of coaching gold-dust. A lesson she would never forget.  For when she requested the group come back into the centre and get ready to move on to the next drill … they did it. 

By listening to what THEY wanted to do – she gained their attention. 
This is what Emma Doyle’s keynote was all about. The importance of listening.
Sharing another story, Emma remembered asking tennis superstar Roger Federer, “what do you think makes a great coach in 1-3 words?” His response was “Someone who listens”.

Judy Murry’s response was … “Someone who listens”

Serena William’s coach, Patrick Mouratoglou’s, response was … “Someone who listens”
Emma used this story to emphasise that by listening to your young athlete, you get access to their world map. You can walk in their shoes. That way, you can understand them …and coach them as they actually need coached.
As a coach – embrace your “Heroes Journey”.
Take a departure to what you know as a coach.
Disrupt how you currently work as a coach.
Learn something new as a coach
Return as a better coach.
“Effective coaching for the next gen is not what you say, but what they hear. 
It’s not what you show them, it’s what they see. It’s not what you do, it’s what they do.”


Sirens for Success – Claire Brownie

The constant exposure to unachievable body images on social media is having a major impact on the self-esteem and resilience of young people, especially girls. Scotland's netball captain, Claire Brownie has devised a programme which uses sport to inspire young girls to change their lives and make positive choices.

Claire shared her insights in a session that tackled issues such as resilience, body image, healthy lifestyles and physical activity, using real life examples of sports people like Andy Murray and Raheem Sterling, and highlighting the impact of physically impossible photoshopped magazine covers.

Claire highlighted the importance of developing a relationship with the girls, getting them to trust you and to trust the process. Once engaged, you can then introduce the basics of sport; breaking it down to simple skills, making it achievable and fun.

The six-week programme has had real success with over half of the girls involved now more active, 60% making better decisions in relation to their health and lifestyle choices, and 22% have now joined a netball club. One girl has even stopped self-harming. Claire summed it up: If you show belief in kids, they will dare to dream, and you might just change their lives.

Building Successful Coaching Relationships in Sport – Sophie Jowett

A cast of thousands have informed Sophia Jowett’s workshop today, having surveyed what sounded like the entire nation to investigate the UK’s best practice in “Building Successful Coaching Relationships in Sport”.

The aims of the workshop were triple-pronged;

  • To assess the role and significance of the Coach / Athlete Relationship
  • Define the Characteristics of a good quality relationship 
  • Deliver a proposal on how to assess your own relationship

Each of these areas were discussed by the group at large and derected with ease by Sophia, who contains so much knowledge on the topic that the group were being hustled out of the door at the end of the session – still asking questions as we went.

For me, great take-aways from the session included;

  • Poor relationships consume so much energy … while great relationships GIVE you energy
  • Age/Gender/Culture/Personality/Experience …these are all things which will impact upon a relationship
  • An Athlete / Coach’s relationship can be defined by their “closeness” … their “commitment to each other” and their “behaviour of complementarity”.

Remember … “the relationships are the vehicle which define is your destination is success.”

Social Media: A Radical Gain - Mark Ritchie & Neasa Russell

Here within the Oriam changing rooms it’s not your usual locker room talk as Mark Ritchie from British Ski & Snowboard explains how we can utilise the positives of social media to connect with it the next generation.

Rather than focusing on negatives associated with social media, Mark encourages others to ‘look through a different lense’ and see how athletes are already using social media to a great effect.

Discussion centres on how marketing and communications teams should be working alongside performance pathway teams for a greater benefit.

“Social media has the ability to bring in a new income stream into your sport of  club. It’s on your fingertips, you’ve just got to utilize it,” said Mark

Emotional Intelligence: A Game Changer - Catherine Baker

What is emotional intelligence? Well there’s no set definition, but two descriptions include:

  • An ability to understand and control your emotions of the people you are working with and manage your relationships accordingly.
  • The springboard to fulfil your potential

 “Our emotional brain responds  much more quickly to things that our rational brain,” explains Catherine.
“The key is that our emotions drive our thoughts, our thoughts drive our behaviour and our behaviour drives our performance as coaches and therefore the outcomes of our participants.”
We know that great coaching is about people, and in this session delegates learned what contributes to wellbeing, self-control, emotionality and sociability and why these four factors are essential to understanding emotional intelligence.
Catherine brought the session to a close this this final thought from civil rights activist Maya Angelou:
“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

Developing Participants in the Talent Pathway (13+ years) - Ed Cope

Learning Design and Development Manager at the Football Association, Ed Cope, shared his 5 big ideas to consider when coaching your athletes. How these ideas then inform coaching practice, in terms of how we can we support, develop and manage young athletes once they have been identified as talented, was also discussed.

The first big idea to kick things off: Recognising that as athletes get older their motivations change: ‘Don’t fall into the trap that every participant wants to become an elite athlete,’ says Ed. And when you have understood their individual aspirations, ask yourself, ‘does my coaching align with those motivations.’

Delegates went on to discuss what their own ‘big ideas’ were. Further discussions followed as Ed revealed each one on his list:

There should be a more deliberate focus on skill development: considerations should include freedom of choice and the balance between deliberate play and deliberate practice. 

Athletes should be provided with autonomy but recognise when they require direction: It is a myth, said Ed, that as talented participants go through a coaching pathway, coaching support should decrease. ‘Feedback is an important part of the learning process. Sometimes we don’t have the prior knowledge to build from. To what extent are we giving learners what they need so it is still challenging but not too challenging that they can’t do it.’

Coaching should ensure athletes are working within the zone of proximal development or flow state: ‘The premise is that from a learning point of view that is where you want learners to be in. Outside of it, the task is too challenging. This may lead to frustration, embarrassment, demotivation.’ You want sufficient stretch so they lose themselves in the activity, having become so immersed in it.

Athletes should be put in situations that requires them to work outside of their comfort zone: The need to appreciate the fact that talent development is not linear. There is a need to understand the diverse experiences the athletes might have had up to that point, the environment they’ve been in, who has coached them etc (for example, some might be more psychologically mature, some more physically mature). Knowing your athletes is fundamental to understanding their developmental journey.

Inclusive Coach Mentoring Programme – Scottish Disability Sport

20% of people have a disability. Only 6% of coaches in the UK have a disability, and only 2% have a coaching qualification.

This research statistic led to Scottish Disability Sport, UK Coaching and sportscotland developing the Inclusive Coach Mentoring Programme. We heard from mentees Stefan Hoggan (swimming/triathlon) and Gemma Lumsdaine (wheelchair basketball) and their mentors Tina Gordon and Richard Brickley.

Explaining the incredible impact the programme has had on her life, Gemma said it set off a chain of events where she went from feeling depressed, isolated and struggled to accept her disability to someone with confidence and given a new lease of life. 

‘Tina completely changed my perspective of disabled sport and gave me the confidence to take that step into coaching,’ said Gemma. ‘Sport has such a powerful impact and can really change lives. It has certainly changed mine. The programme gave me the opportunity to progress from assisting to leading by increasing my skill set while gaining that coaching expertise. My approach now, like Tina’s, is I want to develop people as athletes but as people as well, improving their life skills that will be so valuable to them when they want to go into employment later in life.’

On Gemma, who is now a head coach, Tina said: ‘I really think I’ve gained as much out of the process as Gemma did.’

Coach Core - Hazel Kyle

It’s given us an opportunity to shape our workforce

We know that a diverse and innovative workforce is what we need in the sector, Coach Core deliver an award-winning programme getting young people which have fallen through the cracks between formal education and employment into coaching apprenticeships.

One of our learnings from the early days is getting people to nominate young people to come onto the programme, it gives us a connection with that organisation so it’s not just a standard application process.

We go out to meet young people, take out people who have graduated from the course to talk about their experiences and what you get, so the young people understand what they will experience, so they are fully bought in at the start.

Every opportunity we take to promote the programme, from our local network to being invited on local radio which we didn’t think would lead to anything but one young person came through who had never even thought about sports coaching before having left school without any qualifications at 13.

The young people get a real experience of what life is like as a coach, from having to deliver sessions, work all over the city with diverse groups, we make sure they get as much experience as possible, this linked with our tailored qualification allows us to shape the next generations of coaches in our local community.

A Journey of Possibility: Exploring the Potential of Creative Thinking - Richard Cheetham MBE

What does a picture of a dog, a cactus plant and a ghost have to do with coaching you ask? Well quite a bit as it turns out.

In the opening task we were encouraged to describe an array of random things from a card to a fellow team member, but with a twist, we were not to use the obvious descriptions. The type of mindset which can help to encourage both coaches and participants.

The focus of the full session was to encourage us to think outside the box and deliver with conviction, two powerful tools when used together in a coaching environment.

The coaches in the room were given creative solutions to problems which arise across all sports like participants getting bored with repetitive drills.

Keynote One

Supporting the next generation through coaching – Judy Murray OBE

Judy Murray looks fresh after her Coaching Observation session, which culminated in 24 schoolchildren teaching her the ‘Floss’ dance! Well, coaching is meant to be fun for the coach as well as the participant.

Judy offers delegates a detailed insight into her career as a coach (and parent), sharing numerous golden nuggets of advice as she takes us on a journey through the different stages of her career – a journey in which she has worn multiple hats.

During the Q&A with UK Coaching Director of Coaching Emma Atkins, Judy said she (slowly) fell in love with coaching after starting out as a volunteer at her local club in Dunblane nearly 30 years ago. ‘It just snowballed from there,’ she said.

‘I never would have imagined I would end up doing what I did when I started doing a couple of hours a week, in the snow, fog and rain.

‘Because there was no one to learn from I had to learn everything for myself, and this is why I’m so open to sharing everything I’ve learned with other people now.’

It is also why she is such a firm believer in on the job training.

‘When I was learning how to coach all I really wanted to see was someone else coach on a daily basis and learn from how well they did it. There was never that opportunity. So again, this is why I am so keen to talk passionately about what we do, why we enjoy doing it and what skills you need to develop.’

This tied in with what Emma had been saying in her introduction to this year’s inaugural UK Coaching Conference.

UK Coaching had been crunching the numbers prior to the conference and Emma revealed that in the room today were coaches boasting 4332 years of experience.

And coaches are just a small part of the whole coaching ‘team’. Emma talked about the need to operate as a team in the coaching system and for more collaboration.

There is a common purpose that binds us all, she said, which is about doing the right thing for the next generation.

‘If we are to take that forward we need to know what out roles are within this coaching team: participant, parent, guardian carer, teacher, coach, developer/employer, system team or policy maker.

‘The way to turn a team into a family is to care: care about the person in the middle of it all, next to you and even the person above you,’ said Emma.

When Emma asked Judy what her top tip is for how to develop a great coach, she replied that she is a huge believer in growing the workforce of her sport.

‘So with Tennis on the Road we have been, not exclusively, but taking tennis into more rural areas where you might not find coaches or money to pay coaches, because I really want our sport to be accessible to everybody – whether it be teachers, active skills coordinators, club members, students, sixth formers at school or parents.

‘And we’ve been showing them how to deliver starter tennis for different ages and stages.

‘As Fed Cup captain I created opportunities for the most promising and maybe most ambitious female coaches to come along with us and see what’s going on behind the scenes because, for me, on the job training is the most important thing. Conferences and workshops can give you information but they don’t give you formation and they don’t give you transformation.’

That, added, Judy is what you get when you learn to practically apply everything by having on the job training.

‘The quickest way to get good at something is to work alongside somebody who is good at what they do,’ she added.

Coach Observation - Apprentices from Coach Core Glasgow Sport

Our coaches leading this session today are just starting their coaching journey having only started coaching six months ago. Based in inner city Glasgow Coach Core takes young people who have fallen through the cracks and have no qualifications or education.

Not only do young people gain qualifications they receive tailored mentoring on the job giving them skills to get long term employment.

“Seeing improvements in how they are developing their skill has been the most rewarding part of becoming a coach”.

We don’t just do sessions on coaching, we do self-reflection and confidence building sessions which we can transfer to other parts of our life. Young people also talk about Customer Service and thinking about how they have delivered this after a session.

Coach Core programme manager “One of the biggest learnings for us was how to create tailored programmes for young people, a one size fits all approach we found doesn’t work to get young people engaged”. 

Young people come out of the programme with a qualification but we also we work really hard to re-engage them into the community they have come from through session delivery.  

#GreatCoaching continues

Delegates are having a ball athe conference as the practical sessions are a real hit:

Coach Observations - Tina Gordon Basketball Scotland (Wheelchair Basketball)

Nothing like dusting the sleep from your eyes with a live coaching session, ey?

Delegates lined-up round the edges of the basketball court at sportscotland’s Oriam to watch and engage with Basketball Scotland coach Tina Gordon as she took a group of eight young wheelchair basketball athletes through a live training session.

Tina’s calm and measured coaching style was certainly a great way for delegates to get their first taste of coaching over morning coffee.

As far as observations go: The group were quick to pick-up on their own mistakes and offer them to Tina when asked. Clearly, they are used to her style of coaching, getting them to self-reflect. Actually, when you watch her coach, rarely does she stop play completely to correct, instead she offers bits of advice and encouragement from the side-lines: ‘more communication’; ‘catch and shoot’; ‘it wasn’t a pick, but nice shot’; before bringing the group back together for further instructions.

The likeability factor between coach and athlete factor is tangible. The atmosphere is cohesive, positive and fun. Often with laughter. During a quibble over possession between players, Tina jokes to delegates that she’s trying to make ‘smarter players’. One of her participants is then quick to lay a quip back on her when she too loses her train of thought, ‘you see what we’re doing here ladies and gentlemen is making smarter coaches’. 

Coach Observations - Judy Murray

What better way to begin a coaching conference than with some #GreatCoaching! In this Coach Observations session, Judy Murray ran an hour’s session for 24 Children from St George’s School for Girls and members of Strathgryffe and Western Tennis Clubs.

Following a number of fun warm-up games focusing on flexibility and balance, the 8 to 11-year-olds attention was directed to skill-based games, with Judy explaining to the onlooking group of delegates the rationale behind each task.

So while the children parternerd up and practised hitting a bean bag to each other (no easy task!), Judy explained: ‘Nobody ever got good at tennis without having somebody to practice with.’

On improving reaction speed, Judy threw a second balloon into the mix in a keepy-uppy drill, explaining: ‘Remember, every time make it a bit more challenging as that is how you develop your skills.’

Other notable takeaways included: ‘Instead of teaching it, make the game do it’, and, ‘My coaching philosophy has always been finding the games that work for you to make it a fun way to learn.’

A thoroughly enjoyable and informative start to the day.

Coach Observations

The 300 delegates in attendance are about to branch off to a Coaching Observations session of their choice. It would be foolish not to make use of the world-class sporting facilities that surround us and so we have arranged for a series of coaching sessions to be held on a selection of the courts and pitches, immersing delegates in coaching from the get-go. 

We currently have Judy Murray running a tennis session, while there are wheelchair basketball, multi-skills, football, and rugby sessions taking place, with children from the Edinburgh area providing the vibrancy, colour and exuberance (matched by the enthusiasm of the coaches, of course). 

A facilitator is on hand to commentate on the proceedings and stimulate delegates into challenging their thinking around planning and reflection, participant engagement and to consider their own framework for their coaching practice.


A very warm welcome from Edinburgh! Most months of the year this opening line would be typed with frozen fingertips or uttered through chattering teeth but today the sun is due to be beating down on Oriam, Scotland’s Sports Performance Centre and venue for the inaugural UK Coaching Conference.

We hope you will stay with us over the next two days, but if you are unable to remain glued to your screen like a bleary-eyed gamer hooked on current craze Fortnite, don’t worry. You can check in any time for a catch-up. 

We will be bringing you live updates throughout the next two days, including reviews from all the keynote presentations and workshops, along with other news, behind the scenes chatter, pictures and videos, and a selection of the best reaction from the Twittersphere.

Talking of which, you can still get involved even if you are only here in spirit by using the event hashtag. The theme of the conference is Coaching: The Next Generation and the hashtag is #NextGenCoaching (see what we did there!) – an acknowledgement of 2018 being Scotland’s Year of the Young Person.

Let’s kick off with few facts about our striking venue – a fitting choice of words considering this state-of-the-art £33 million facility is used by the Scotland football and rugby union teams as a training base ahead of international fixtures. 

Did you know Scotland’s equivalent of St George’s Park has a full size indoor 3G pitch that is the largest of its type in Europe – with the same dimensions (116x76 yards) as Hampden Park? It is also the tallest indoor pitch in Europe – its apex being the same height as the iconic Forth Bridge just 14 miles north of here.

And as for the small vertical rectangular cavities that are dotted higgledy-piggledy alongside the length of the far wall, they represent musical notes to a famous song. You guessed it, Flower of Scotland.

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UK Coaching Marketing and Communications Team