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UK Coaching Team
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Rapport Building and Communicating Organising and Planning

Helping Coaches Make the Best Use of their Time

Coaching during lockdown has made Sarah Green rethink how she uses technology to support her coaching. The Performance Pathway Developer at England Netball tells UK Coaching that using the right video technology has vastly reduced the time spent on mundane administrative tasks, so that she is able to spend more time planning effective training sessions

Originally a football coach who’s worked at every level from grassroots to elite, Sarah Green has spent decades at the coalface, developing players and coaches. 

“I’m a football coach by trade, but it is the people I’m interested in, even more than the sport,” she says.

“Though I have played, and love, both football and netball, most of all I want to develop people.”

As someone who started out coaching primary school children, Sarah understands the demands placed on coaches.

Time is hugely challenging for me, as it is for any coach,” she says. “We’ve all got busy lives. Often people are working on very limited time. When I’m working on borrowed time, I find it really hard to give the best of myself. 

“I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had toast for dinner because I’m coming home late and rushing around!”

Time-saving tool

One thing that magnifies the time pressure, says Sarah, is the administrative aspect of her work. Sometimes you can feel more like a project manager than a coach.

“I can’t tell you the amount of times the girls WhatsApp me asking, ‘What time’s training tonight?’ or ‘Where are we at?’”, she says. “Sometimes that constant communication can feel quite draining. 

Having an app can help hugely and keep everyone on the same page. With an app, you can put in the location and the time. There’s a simple ‘attend’ or ‘decline’ option for parents, so you can actually see who’s going to be at the session. This really helps with planning and organisation.”

UK Coaching’s Head of Coaching Nick Levett, right, and Working with Parents in Sport founder Gordon MacLelland discuss the valuable benefits of using technology to support their coaching

While an app like Spond makes it easy for coaches to send messages, schedule events and manage attendances and updates, it is equally valuable in helping coaches manage longer-term planning and communication. 

The impact of Covid-19 has really highlighted this for Sarah. “It’s even more important during this time when we’re thinking about how coaches can return to play after coronavirus. We’re asking people to perform lots of different roles, often as a volunteer. So, things that can maximise time or do multiple jobs in one go are very beneficial.”

Enriching your coaching

Sarah is also strong believer in the power of technology to help coaches learn from each other, even if they do most of their sessions alone.

Sarah discusses the valuable benefits of using technology to support her coaching

"For me, while time is a huge issue, when I’m speaking to coaches, one of my drivers around using technology is supporting people to develop and be educated,” says Sarah.

“So we might be running different sessions together but not really noticing what each of us is doing. That’s where technology can help; bringing people together, encouraging communication and helping people reflect on what’s going on. So, as well as helping support time management, it’s helping coaches become really good learners and reflect on that practice continually.”

“Before Covid, I would have said that wherever possible I would just want to be there in person. But particularly since starting my current role, I have started to think more about how we maximise in-person interactions while also fully optimising the technology at our disposal.

"It’s helped me think about what people want and need. Coaches often want to download stuff and read it in their own time. I like the way people are doing shorter, sharper things and not expecting people to spend a lot of time accessing a webinar or a two-hour-long workshop. It’s not realistic.

So I’ve been thinking about the dynamics of how we can do things online that aren’t necessarily live. There are opportunities for people to go away and practice, think and reflect and the touchpoint can be through the technology: ‘I’ve shared this with you, what do you think?’. 

“With the coaches I work with, we’ve used ‘voice-noting’ quite a lot to talk to each other about what we’re seeing in sessions. It’s really simple – everyone has the function on their phone, and it helps them capture, consider and reflect on their thoughts. 

“Technology doesn’t have to be really expensive, either. Everyone has a camera and access to a video on their phone.”

Sarah adds that it doesn’t matter if the session doesn’t work out as planned, it is the learning we can take from it that is important.

Just like our participants we need to challenge and stretch ourselves and technology provides an opportunity to do just that. Coaching should be about trying things, adapting, reflecting on what you have learned and then trying again.”

About Spond

The Spond app, which is completely free to use, it designed to make running a team simple, so you can spend more time coaching and less time project managing. It can:

  • schedule events
  • manage communication with players and parents/guardians (including direct messaging and polling tools)
  • manage attendance
  • help support, track and trace 
  • collect money.

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