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Safety and Welfare Organising and Planning

Ideas to Help Coaches Plan for the Return to Play: Part 2

Top tips on addressing the fear of returning to face-to-face coaching from Louis Annan, who is a fitness coach from Peckham and director of Let’s Get Active

Louis Annan’s mantra is “to make a difference”, which he is doing a fantastic job of as director of Let’s Get Active, a fitness, sports and health service that aims to tackle the huge epidemic of physical inactivity within the UK. 

Prior to the coronavirus pandemic, Louis was delivering boxing and basketball sessions at the Black Prince Trust in Kennington and was heavily involved in mentoring young men in the community on top of his sessions.

  1. It’s normal to feel anxious. Getting back outside or inside and working with people face-to-face will cause most coaches some anxiety. It’s likely we’ll all see over-subscriptions to our sports programmes, so managing this may be difficult. It will also be interesting to see how people behave socially after being subject to multiple lockdowns. But just take it one day at a time. 
  2. Coping techniques. Careful planning and visualisation really help with pre-coaching anxiety. Whenever I work with a new group/individual it can be quite daunting but making sure I’m as prepared as possible for the session helps, as does repeatedly going through it in my head.
  3. Coaching rituals. Arrive early to your coaching venue to troubleshoot any issues beforehand and familiarise yourself with the place.
  4. Refocusing on coaching (after time away). I always like to watch footage from my previous sessions to remind myself of what the coaching environment is like, also touching base with the people I work with (other members of staff and/or participants) also helps me refocus ahead of my first session back.
  5. The night before. It depends on the coach and the sport, but it’s always a good idea to pack the night before your first session back cones, bibs and a bottle of water to stay hydrated.
  1. Use music. Music playlists really engage the groups I work with, so prior to my first session back I’ll contact those that have previously attended to send me their favourite song. This is a great way to give people ownership of the session and helps ease the tension/anxiety that may come with returning to play.
  2. Between now and then. The best thing coaches can do before returning to coaching is plan and maybe re-establish relationships with their participants (and parents/carers of participants). This will allow for a smoother transition back into face-to-face coaching, as opposed to just relaunching with no momentum at all.
  3. Don’t take coaching for granted. The past 12 months have really shown how unpredictable life can be. Coming back, I will value each face-to-face coaching session I deliver as I understand the opportunity to coach can be taken away very quickly. I’ll also use the time to really engage with participants as I’ve come to understand the physical, psychological and social impact sport can have on people's well-being.

Related Resources

  • Ideas to Help Coaches Plan for the Return to Play: Part 1

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  • Rusty Nails It! Some Magic Advice on Returning to Coaching

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  • Group Trainers are Fitness’ Unsung Heroes

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