Welcome to the latest Coaching Matters Newsletter.
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2 February 2015

Last week saw the publication of the latest results from the Active People Survey (APS). The figures were scheduled for release in December – do you find that bad news takes longer to prepare? With a general election looming, we’ll be trying hard before then to be positive about coaching.

So, in this issue:
  • The power of coaching
  • Women in coaching
  • Damn, failed again!
  • Primary PE Conference
  • CoachMark update

The power of coaching

It’s blindingly obvious to those of us involved in coaching that a good coach can make all the difference – whether it’s at the ‘top’, helping talented athletes, or at the other extreme, just getting people to turn up.

The poor APS results for some sports should help to highlight the role of the coach when it comes to retention. sports coach UK reminded us (via John McIlroy’s blog) of research that they commissioned from Loughborough University that underlined the central role of the coach, not only in attracting individuals into sport but also in maintaining participation over time.

Interpersonal skills are the key – coaches who are understanding, approachable, trustworthy, respectful and friendly will create more positive environments for their participants. Doh. You can read the conclusions and recommendations of that research by clicking here.

Women in coaching

The This Girl Can campaign has attracted a fair bit of attention – the first ad in the middle of Coronation Street was seen by 7.5 million viewers (well, those that weren’t putting the kettle on, putting the cat out, etc.) and over half a million people have seen it online. (You can join them – click here.)

The APS figures, showing that 1.75 million fewer women than men are active, underline the gender gap. Hopefully, This Girl Can will encourage the 70% of 14-40 year-old women who tell us they want to be more active to actually take that step and start to participate. But are we ready for them, if they turn up at our clubs, leisure centres, etc.? sports coach UK has a page on their website devoted to the This Girl Can campaign and the issues it raises – click here to view the webpage.

Women In Sport, again with sports coach UK, produced a series of factsheets on Coaching Women – highly recommended reading. We’d like to highlight a couple - first of all, there are a lot of pre-conceived ideas about coaching female athletes, so the Coaching Myth Buster is essential reading. Given that women are even more under-represented in the coaching community, make Developing Female Coaches required reading in your club or organisation.

Here’s the challenge: what are you doing to encourage more women to take up coaching and thus be role models for any female participants??

Oh, and well done Andy Murray for backing his coach, Amelie Mauresmo. Shame about the Grand Slam final (see next article!), but Saturday saw a couple of relevant articles from Jackie Ashley and Esther Addley that you can read by clicking on their names.

BREAKING NEWS: Women coaches wanted for ground-breaking and important project. Make your voice count! The School of Sport at Leeds Beckett University and Sports Coach UK are inviting women coaches to participate in an important UK study examining occupational well-being for women coaches. This study aims to collect more information on how women coaches experience their profession and working within their organisation within the UK. If you would like to contribute to the project, please complete the online survey, which will only take 20 minutes. All information provided is strictly confidential – to take part, click on this link


Damn, failed again!

Writing this with one eye on Australia (not just Andy Murray, the England cricket team as well), we’re left wondering once again about why sports people fail when it comes to the crunch. In the words of cricket captain Eoin Morgan ‘we certainly made it difficult for ourselves’ and as Andy Murray said, '##@$& !**£#'.

Well, we’re going to find out in Coach Education Week (hey, got halfway through this issue before mentioning it!). Sion Thomas, senior lecturer in Sport & Exercise Psychology at the University of Greenwich, is holding a workshop on Underperformance in Sport. He will be looking at why athletes are often unable to deal with competitive situations, with the focus of the session being on ‘choking’ and distractions. As coaches, how can we help athletes resolve these and other issues?

The workshop is on Wednesday 18 February, from 7-9pm, at the University of Hertfordshire’s de Havilland Campus in Hatfield. For more information and to book online, click here.


Primary PE Conference

Our recent PE and School Sport Conference attracted head teachers, school governors and PE leads from 128 of Hertfordshire's primary schools. The conference featured a mixture of keynote speakers and practical and theoretical workshops, as well as a marketplace of primary-related products and services. In total, there were about 250 delegates attending. You can read a report on our website here.

What were the messages for coaching? Well, the ‘double act’ of keynote presenters Ali Oliver (Youth Sport Trust) and Sue Wilkinson (Association for Physical Education) caused consternation among the Coaching Unit when they urged those present not to use coaches! Of course, what they meant was ‘…without making sure that they work with you to develop your staff’. And quite right too, because the primary PE and sport premium sport may not last forever(!) and staff development is a critical part of sustainability.

CoachMark featured in one of the workshops and the concept of only using coaches who meet nationally agreed Minimum Standards for Active Coaches continues to gain support.

You can view the CoachMark presentation, as well as the keynote presentations from the Conference, by clicking here.


CoachMark update

CoachMark - our local scheme for local coaches (shades of Royston Vasey), helping to ensure the standard of coaching and child protection, particularly Hertfordshire schools. (You can find out more about CoachMark and register on the coaching database if you click here.)

Basically, you enter details of your qualifications, CRB/DBS, insurance and safeguarding training, and provide two referees. We double check this information against your paperwork and you then join the list of CoachMark coaches (currently 380 and growing).

We’re having a periodic ‘spring clean’, as we tend to do, to make sure that the information that coaches provide on the database is up to date. The onus is on the coach, firstly to keep their information updated, then to let us know when they are ready to be validated, and also when they want a photo ID card.

CoachMark remains free to coaches and keeping stuff up to date is your side of the deal! If you can’t keep your information updated, you may find that you are removed from the list. If you’ve got any queries about the CoachMark process, please get in touch with our new CoachMark contact, Matt Arter on

CoachMark coaches: we encourage you to log on to the database every now and then and check that the information that you’ve put on there is still current. You should be getting reminders (generated by the database software), so don’t leave it until you get the ‘yellow card’ from Matt!

And finally ...

No sooner do they get featured in one of our Learning from Legendary Coaches lectures (presented by David Turner) than Bill Belichick and Pete Carroll end up contesting the American football Super Bowl. (XLIX, for those with a classical education!)

And we weren't the only ones to think that there's something to be learnt from these two coaches. Check out this article from Information Week's David Wagner, entitled 7 Lessons From Winning NFL Coaches - it's in the form of a 'slideshow', so look for '1 of 10' and use the arrows to pick up on what this US magazine thinks can be learnt from Bill and Pete.

Where HSP leads, the others will surely follow ...!!
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