Vocational practice is becoming a fundamental educational experience for students (May and Veitch, 1998). Colley, Hodkinson and Malcom, (2002) claim that vocational practice and training aids the development of technical skills and knowledge thus increasing behavioural competence within the workplace. Lyle and Cushion (2010) states there is no substitution for experience when it comes to hands on coaching, this belief is supported by Ericsson, (1998) whos research shows that a minimum of ten years experience is needed within the field to excel to an expert level of coaching. Vickers and Bavister (2005) go on to claim that coaches who regularly achieve success while coaching are often those who can reflect on their experiences from other events. This claim is supported by Schempp et al (2007) who believe that coaches who can thoughtfully analyse and critique the parts of their sessions which were successful and those which were not and then make adjustments where necessary are the “outstanding” coaches.
Before beginning any form of vocational placement it is crucial to set out key aims and objectives as this will allow you to asses just how successful the placement experience was and how much you gained from it. For my placement I set out three key aims. These aims are clearly laid out in section 1.1 as seen below.
1.1 Goals for Placement
To gain hand on experience while developing my practical skills and tacit knowledge.
To obtain at least two contacts which I could use after university.
To increase my own self confidence when in front of others.
1.2 Goal Setting
Correct goal setting can improve focus, persistence, confidence and performance but poor goal setting can create anxiety and sometimes hinder performance (Lynn, 2010). All three of my placement goals stick to the idea of SMARTER goal setting, these are defined by Finn, (2008) as “specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, time phased and re evaluated”. Lewis and Smith (1994) explains that a good tip for coaches and athletes is to keep your goals SMARTER as it is easy to remember and makes your goals more achievable. This claim is supported by Lynn (2010) who claims that is vast amounts of literature that supports SMARTER goal setting. Weinberg and Gould (2003) claim that as a coach it is important to make your goals specific as without an aim you can lose interest and may not fully strive for the goal. It is also crucial for the goal to be measurable as without this there is no real drive for the coach. Coaches must also believe their goals are achievable and realistic as this will help keep them motivated to perform. Harter’s competency motivational theory agrees with this statement, explaining that more mastery attempts will take place if there is early success within the athlete’s goals (Harter, 1981). It is also essential that coaches make sure goals are realistic, if an athlete believes the goal is unrealistic they are almost guaranteed to fail (Martens, 2004). This belief is supported by Kidman and Hanrahan (2011) who state goals must have a balance between being challenging but also realistic. Time must also be taken into consideration as without this the coach will not drive themselves to achieve it in the required time frame. Finally the targets a coach aims for should be reviewed and evaluated as this shall help them make changes during their goals. During my placement I reviewed my goals through reflection. Cox, R, (2001) states goals can be viewed as being focused on outcome, performance, or process. Outcome goals are defined as goals which mainly focus on an overall result. An example of this would be winning a rugby game, or placing first in a competition. Therefore to successfully achieve an outcome goal one must not only perform to their best but also hope they out perform their opponent. An example of this would be when a football team plays ninety minutes of football to their best possible standard but still comes out on the losing team because the other team out performed them. Performance goals however look at the standard of ones performance. An example of this would be a golfer who does not win a tournament but has their lowest round on that course. Research suggests that goal setting is one of the most influential methods of increasing motivation and achieving goals (Locke and Latham, 1985). In 1981 Locke complied a comprehensive review of over a hundred studies which found over 90% of cases resulted in positive effects due to goal setting.
1.3 Curriculum Vitae and Covering Letter
Before actively searching for a vocational placement, it was my job to firstly construct a curriculum vitae (CV) and a covering letter. A CV is crucial when applying for any form of job or vocational practice as this is the first time a prospective employer will make an opinion of you. Houston (2004) supports this claim, stating that “a CV is not the whole you but just a taste of you and it is the first opportunity for you to make a good impression”. Provenzano, (2004) argues that a covering letter is in fact more important to a CV as the covering letter allows the applicant to personalise their application unlike a CV. When both the CV and covering letter were complete and spell checked for any errors it was then up to me to get in contact with prospective employers. As I have always had a keen interest in physical fitness and well being my first option was to work in the military either with the royal navy or the army as a personal trainer.
1.4 Potential Employers
Due to working within schools previously I had decided that I wanted to gain some experience elsewhere so I decided to take a sports coaching and development route which led me to another very strong passion, rugby. After I had made this decision it was easy for me to pick the types of institute I would like to work in. Firstly I sent my CV and covering letter to both the Rugby Football League (RFL) and the Rugby Football Union (RFU) as I have experience within both codes. Fortunately I quickly received word from the Cumbria Rugby Football League development team which stated that they would love to have a work experience student within their ranks. From this it was easy to make my decision and I began by replying to the RFL. Planning early and realising which employers were available to me allowed me plenty of time to enforce my contingency plan of working within sports development. Ntoumanis and Biddle (1997) explain that contingency planning is pre planning for problems within practice or competition and creating a solution for these possibilities if any troubles arise.
As in many schools, a major section of the work carried out by the RFL involves making people aware of the health benefits of physical activity and making sure the public can see there are possibilities for them to utilise such activities. By gaining a work placement within Cumbria Rugby League development I felt I would receive far greater hands on experience which would allow me to gain a much more rewarding vocational practice, as appose to working within the military where I feel I would have taken a much more back seat approach to the world of work. This level of first hand experience is essential for me due to the nature of my three smarter goals, as it would allow me to increase my own self confidence but also allow me to develop connections within the world of rugby league which I could potentially use after university. Colley et al, (2002) would argue that as well as these goals it would also allow me to craft my own practical and technical skills which I have acquired within the class room. Also by coaching children in this sports development scenario it will allow me to work with children of all ages with a range of backgrounds and upbringings thus creating the challenge of utilising skills in all kinds of situations this would allow me to develop my tacit knowledge. Knowles, Borrie and Telfer, (2005) would support this style of learning, suggesting that effective coach learning is based on appropriate use of tacit experiential knowledge and not just formal theoretical knowledge about coaching pedagogy, physiology or other bodies of knowledge.
2.0 Coaching Literature
Bompa, (1994) states that “coaching is a process”, Cross and Lyle (1999) support this claim stating that coaching in an “ongoing process”. Coaching is not something that can be achieved through a couple of qualifications, the overall process of coaching takes years to develop and it is argued that coaches can always improve in someway or another (Kidman and Lambardo, 2010). Even if a coach believes they have fully achieved their goals they must always be aware of the coaching process and continually strive to develop (Kidman and Hanrahan, 2011). Self reflection is a vital tool which coaches can use to further develop their own abilities (Kidman and Hanrahan, 2011). Cassidy et al., (2009) supports this statement and claims there is “more than one technique which can be used”. During my placement I decided to use a reflective log while using the Gibbs cycle as a model of reflection as this method allowed me to self reflect on my own coaching practice on a daily basis. While working within sports development it was vital that as a coach I was able to not only coach athletes with a lack of experience but also cater for the small number of athletes with more advanced levels of performance, so the participants I was coaching could achieve their peak performance. Cote and Gilbert, (2009) define these different groups as coaching domains. Coaching domains can be split into four different categories, child performance, child participation, adult performance and adult participation (Cote, Gilbert and Mallet, 2006). Jones (2006) explains that each coaching domain creates its own difficulties thus creating a variety of behaviours that must be used in order to overcome these difficulties. This claim is supported by Cushion and Lyle (2010) who state that coaching domains all require different “environmental demands”. While working within the RFL my regular role was coaching in the participation domain, however I occasionally had to work with one or two athletes within the performance domain. Abraham and Collins, (1998) explains that to achieve peak performance the coach must demonstrate a range of different skills to aid the performers learning. To some extent Woodman (1993) would agree with this statement, however Woodman (1993) claims that “regardless of a coaches level of skill and their own abilities it is the application of their knowledge which would separate a great practitioner from an average one”. De Marco, Mancini and Wuest (1996) extend this further stating that in order to enhance performance a coach must facilitate for the athletes learning by adapting their instructional behaviour. Therefore whilst on my vocational placement it was essential that I constantly changed not only my behaviours while coaching but also the styles which I used when coaching depending on the athletes needs and desires. Northouse, (2001) would claim this is good coaching practice as he explains that leadership styles must aim to match learner needs. Weinberg and Gould (1999) states that if a coach successfully meets the needs of the athlete, they are far more likely to take more mastery attempts at their desired goals. For this I used the Chelladurai model of leadership due to its use of situational, member and leader characteristics observation when looking at a coach’s performance. While looking at coaching behaviours it is always important to think about leadership theory, and which theories are relevant to that particular coach. Since the development of the Multi-Dimensional Model of Leadership (MDML) (Chelladuria and Carron, 1978), the ability to study leadership has increased significantly. This model proposes that three key leadership behaviours must be congruent in order to achieve an effective group performance as well as athlete satisfaction. The three leadership behaviours include required behaviour, preferred behaviour and finally actual behaviour. Shields, Gardner, Bredemeier and Bostro (1997) explain that required behaviour is prescribed for a particular situation, preferred behaviour is the desired behaviour of the coach by the athlete and finally actual behaviour is the behaviour perceived by the athlete. Chelladurai (2006) claims that “required leader behaviour is influenced by situational characteristics such as organizational goals, formal structure, group task, social norms, government regulations, technology, and member characteristics”.
This method was used constantly as other models only focus on certain aspects of coaching, such as the personality of the coach (Sage, 1975) or the different coaching styles such as democratic and autocratic (Lenk, 1977) and my aim was to develop as a whole coach.
2.1 Sports Policy and Participation
In 2000 DCMS set out the “Sporting Futures for All” policy which showed Labours clear interest in school sport and sport for young people in general (Houlihan and White, 2002). To achieve “Sporting Futures for All” the government created a five point plan to allow children to get the most out of sport within school. Since the government have recognised that children are not taking part in enough compulsory sport at school they have put over half a billion pounds into getting a minimum of two hours of practical sports a week in every school and also have worked to create an additional three hours available outside of school hours by 2010. This target is an improvement on the previous objective of having just three hours of physical activity per week within schools (DCMS 2004). From this initiative the government has introduced the seven core sporting activities which schools should include in their timetable these were: Gymnastics, Dance, Outdoor activities, Net/wall games, invasion games, striking/fielding games and athletics. Schools now base their minimum of two hours of lessons around these core sporting activities (PE and School Sport CPD report 2006).
In terms of the Rugby Football League it could be argued that the government’s plans and the RFLs plans are on somewhat on a different wave length. The government seem to be focused predominantly on increasing participation where as the RFL seem to have a keen interest in improving the professional and semi professional game. Out of the four key mission statements on the RFL website only one of the aims is to maximise numbers within the participation level of the game (Rugby Football League, 2011). This would suggest that the RFL has placed priority on developing the professional game ahead of developing the grass roots level.
3.0 Reflective Theory
Over the past two decades the focus on reflective practice has grown significantly in a wide range of contexts these include education, medicine and now coaching. This is mainly down to the work of Schon (1983), who by using and applying a basic principle of reflecting on experience to improve action and professional practice, helped to develop the importance of reflective practice (Cassidy, Jones and Potrac, 2004). Schon (1987) also explains that “wisdom can be learnt by reflection on dilemmas that occur within practice”. Reid (1993) supports this study explaining that reflective practice is not only a way of learning but also a way to develop your own practice once formal education ceases. More recently Knowles, Gilbourne, Borrie and Nevill, (2001) explain that by encouraging practitioners to reflect on practice is an excellent way to create better practice thus identifying areas for improvement and potential changes that should be made. There are many different interpretations of what reflective practice is, however most studies would argue that reflection is an active, conscious process (Dewey, 1933, Boud, 1985, Schon, 1987, and Reid, 1993). Moon (2004) supports this by defining reflective practice as “a set of abilities and skills that indicate the taking of a critical stance, a course to problem solving or state of mind”. However Ghaye and Lillyman (2000) argue that reflection is not an intellectual endeavour but an intricate procedure involving the person as a whole, therefore making one simple definition impossible.
Essentially reflective practice means taking our experiences as a starting point for learning. By thinking about them in a purposeful way, using the reflective process we can come to understand them differently and take action as a result (Jasper, 2003). Reflective practice is particularly relevant to sports practitioners where learning requires a degree of self examination. The reason for this is because it allows tacit knowledge, cognitive professional shortcuts and non deliberative and contingent decision making to be made, which are necessary for the sports practitioners to generate an understanding and appreciation for practice (Lyle, 2002). Anderson, Knowles, and Gilbourne (2004) recently argued that reflective practice offers a practical structure for the training and development of sport practitioners. The reason for this is because reflective practice is an approach to practice that creates opportunities for access. It has been suggested that putting tacit knowledge into action, which includes values, experiences, knowledge, and social norms, is vital to practice. Being able to access and understand this tacit knowledge will make a significant contribution to a practitioner’s professional and personal development, which can be achieved through reflective practice (Knowles, Gilbourne, Tomlinson and Anderson, 2007).
Pollard et al (2005) states that the importance of reflective practice towards the sports practitioners is that “the process of reflective practice must support the development and preservation of professional practitioners”. If the coach cannot find an area of weakness to work on then it is time for them to pass that athlete on. This is where reflective practice is introduced as it allows the coach to see if any further improvements can be made to the athlete, if they can not they then must pass the athlete onto a coach who can further enhance there development. This links to the humanistic approach of coaching which is a person centred ideology, emphasising the empowerment of the individual, towards achieving personal goals within an interpersonal relationship. A major thrust of humanistic ideology is the interpersonal relationship between the coach and athlete. This emphasises that the athlete should not lose control of the coaching process (Lyle, 2002). Research carried out by Tinnings (1995) suggests that if becoming reflective was simply a rational process it would be easy to train sport practitioners to be reflective. He argues that it is not easy to train someone to become a reflective practitioner because the issues that the practitioner is required to reflect on, are not simply a matter of rational argument, but have a large level of emotion and subjectivity embedded within them (Tinning, 1995).
There are however many benefits of using reflective practice to a sports practitioner. Reflective practice allows the practitioner to become more aware of values and beliefs that shape their practices, resulting in enhanced athlete learning and performance. It also allows the practitioner to become more sensitive to the needs and interest of the athlete, leading to coaching sessions being developed that are more meaningful for all concerned (Tinning, 1991). Reflective practice is essential for increasing coaching success. Clifford and Feezell (1997) consider coaching success to be determined by factors such as knowledge, skills and experience.
Schon (1983) identified two main types of reflection these are, reflection-in-action and reflection-on-action. These were identified as the principle ways professionals use to articulate there knowledge. Reflection-in-action is the way that people think about practice while they are doing it. This is seen as an automatic activity that occurs subconsciously everyday. It is seen as a way that advanced practitioners develop as a result of a combination of their skill, knowledge and practice. An example of this could be adapting a coaching session in order to cater for the unforeseen needs and ability of the group. Reflection-on-action involves us consciously exploring experience and thinking about practice after they have happened. This usually happens away from the scene of practice, because of this it is assumed that practice is underpinned by knowledge making it a cognitive process. An example of this could be a practitioner discussing positive and negative aspects of the session with another coach who has witnessed the activities (Jasper, 2003)
When using reflective practice, practitioners often use models to help structure their reflection. There are a number of different models that have been constructed over the years. According to Ghaye and Lillyman, (2000) all the models share some of the same qualities. The one quality all models share is that they require us to engage in the process of knowledge creation by helping us to move from tacit knowledge into conscious and explicit knowing (Ghaye and Lillyman, 2000). Each model however is also in some way different. For example, some models place a big emphasis on explicating a process of reflection while others believe that the process is more of a “means to an ends”. The model I have most consistently used is one of the most well known models, the Gibbs cycle.
I decided to use the Gibbs (1988) framework as research explains that it is a basic frame work which endeavours to incorporate knowledge, feelings and actions within one cycle, therefore making it more suitable for the novice practitioner (Ghaye and Lillyman, 2000). The Gibbs approach features all the strategies or frameworks for reflection that have been developed over the years by various academics (Ghaye and Lillyman, 2000). However a major criticism of the Gibbs cycle is the unlikelihood of the exact same incident arising again thus making it difficult to create a fully effective action plan, this can also be linked to role frames. Gilbert and Trudel (2004) explain that as coaches develop through their experiences they also develop their own role frames. The problem with role frames is that every coaches role frame is different, an example of this can be linked to my first critical incident. What I perceive as an expectable form of punishment may not be the same as another coach’s perception of acceptable punishment, thus creating the issue of double standards.
The first of my critical incidents occurred on the 25th June, 2010 which was the 8th working day of my vocational practice. In the previous days leading up to the incident I had been working alongside Mr. Smith and was informed at 9 a.m that I would be working with Mr. Todd at a local primary school after my recent request to partake in more hands on coaching. I was briefly informed of what I would be assisting with, which involved general setting up and leading the warm ups which did not leave me feeling too worried as I had covered these within my applied sports coaching module.
Upon arrival at the school I was greeted by Mr. Todd who was introduced to me by Mr. Smith. After a brief discussion Mr. Smith left to go back to the office and Mr. Todd and I begun to talk about his role within rugby and what we would be doing today. I was informed that we would be working with three different classes of year six children aged ten to eleven. As the first class walked out Mr. Todd began to take charge of the session and instructed the children to get into neat line using an extremely autocratic approach to coaching, while I started to set up my warm up. When I had finished placing the cones where I wanted them for the warm up Mr. Todd introduced me to the class and informed them all that I would be working with him for the rest of the afternoon. The session then began and the first class went well with only a few disruptions through out. When I had finished my warm up Mr. Todd then took charge and led the remainder of the session. At the end of the lesson the same process was applied with me setting up the warm up for the next class and Mr. Todd introducing me. During the second session there was a lot more disruptions and the children seemed to be getting restless. This began to aggravate Mr. Todd and he then began to distribute punishments for bad behaviour such as talking when someone else was or bouncing the balls when not instructed to do so. This led to my first critical incident of my placement. During the main section of the session one girl aged ten was throwing the ball in the air while Mr. Todd was speaking this then caused Mr. Todd to verbally abuse the child and then demand the child perform a task called “belly-back-bellies”. This involves the child first going down on their stomach, then standing up, then down onto their back, then standing up again, then back down onto their stomachs which seemed to be extremely distressing for the children as some had begun to cry, we then finished the second session. Finally we moved onto the third class which once again followed the same warm up and skills drills as the previous two sessions.
4.1 Thoughts and Feelings
As the session started I began to feel slightly anxious and could feel myself becoming increasingly nervous as I had never worked with this coach before and had no idea what his perceptions of my coaching abilities would be. This was also heightened by a slight sense of inexperience which brought me to question my own coaching ability as I had limited experience working in this coaching domain. During the critical incident itself I felt extremely uneasy as I had never been in a situation were a child was crying because of the punishment they had been given. Another issue that worried me was the fact the teacher of the class was only on the other side of the playground and seemed to want nothing to do with the children that were crying or shouting and just seemed to be ignoring the whole situation. This made me question whether or not anything was going unacceptable or whether this was just standard practice within schools, it also made me question what type of example this was supposed to be setting for both me as an observing coach as well as the children who had not been punished.
Reflecting on the session now I feel I did not question either the coach or the teacher to see if this was just standard practice in schools, and whether or not it happened a lot of the time. Also I did not try to comfort the children which looking back now seems like the wrong thing to do as the children were clearly distressed. Due to not working with I this coach or teacher before I did not wish to seem like I was stepping on anyone’s toes as I had wanted to get more hands on coaching. In hindsight I feel I exhibited poor coaching practice as I knew there was something wrong, however I failed to react in what I believed to be the most appropriate manor. This is supported by my reflective log as it clearly shows that I knew at the time what I should have done but failed to do so when I felt it was most appropriate.
During the session I felt the coach’s behaviours were extremely demoralising of the child and that some of his coaching methods could have been seen as over the top. Research carried out by Raakman, Dorsch and Rhind (2010) found that indirect psychological abuse was the most commonly used type of abuse when coaching children with 52.8% of all abuse being in this category, however from the criteria used within this study the type of abuse used by this coach would be defined as direct physical abuse which occurred only 5.5% of the time.
All coaches have a personal style and approach when it comes to working with any athlete. However Pyke (1991) claims that you can not successfully coach every type of athlete using the same style and states that better coaches must use a variety of styles in order to aid learners needs. In relation to this critical incident I feel the coach did not allow enough freedom for the children, who quickly lost interest in the session as Mr Todd was using a very autocratic coaching style. A possible way of overcoming this would have been to step into the session and lead with a most democratic style. Tenenbaum and Eklund (2007) would support this claim stating there are a range of coaching behaviours which are split into different dimensions, two of which include democratic and autocratic coaching styles which is a refection of the coach’s decision making (Mosston & Ashworth, 1990). Gill and Williams (1986) would argue that autocratic coaching is extremely “coach led and directive” in its approach. This claim is supported by Lyle, (1999) who claims that autocratic coaching is a direct approach in which a coach will give a set of rules and orders which must be followed by the athletes. Autocratic coaching has been heavily criticised as it restricts the freedom of the athletes, as they must follow what the coach is instructing them to do (Cross, 1995). However Andrews (2009) states that,
“in situations where members lack the intelligence, ability, experience, and/or personality dispositions to make judgments about situational requirements, the leader must make an appropriate decision for the members”.
Martens (2000) also supports Andrews (2009) statement by explaining when teaching beginners an autocratic approach should be taken as the athletes need to be instructed as they do not have the knowledge base to interact via a reciprocal style. Had I have stepped in when I felt I should have this incident could have been avoided by allowing the children more freedom with a democratic approach.
4.4 Action Plan
From this critical incident it is clear to see that this specific situation caught me off guard as I had never seen this style of coaching before, and due to it being a coaching style I would not use, took me by surprise. After reviewing the literature I feel there are a varietyof coaching methods which I could have used to aid Mr Todd within this situation which would not have involved a physical punishment such as “belly-back-bellies”.Since the incident I have had time to reflect on my own personal practice and have been able to identify weaknesses within my coaching, such as not stepping in when I feel it is necessary or discussing my opinions on coaching styles with colleagues when I feel it is appropriate. However I now have experience within this situation and feel if this problem ever arose again I would be better equipped to deal with it in a more suitable manner. One such way in which I could initiate this would be to sit down with the coach prior to any session and discuss what we would class as appropriate discipline for the athletes.
The second of my critical incidents occurred on the 3rd August, 2010 which was my 20th day of working within the RFL. In the days leading up to this incident Mr Smith had informed me that he would be going away for two weeks for his brother’s wedding and that during this time I would be working from home on a database task which had been set by Mr Black but also that I would be running two one and a half hour tag rugby sessions with members of the BAE systems work force to promote rugby within the local community. Before departing for his holiday Mr Smith had informed me that he would be leaving all the required equipment for the sessions with Mr Todd and that I should go and collect them on the day of the event in the morning. When I arrived at Mr Todd’s office I was informed that Mr Smith had not left any equipment and Mr Todd had not even heard about the session which was due to be running later that day. This then left me to find balls, cones, bibs etc as independently without this equipment the session would not have been able to run. Fortunately the session was running at my own local rugby club and seen as I was captain of the 1st team this allowed me access to all their own equipment. The day then went from bad to worse as the participants began to arrive there was almost double the number of competitors Mr Smith had informed me there would be, however this was easily dealt with as I was able to think on my feet and create another couple of teams to add to the competition.
When all the competitors had arrived it was just a matter of getting them into games and to get the referees to run the matches, however Mr Smith had also forgotten to book any referees for this event which caused even more confusion as there was not any qualified referees. Miss Proctor (the leader of the BAE development programme) then started to become increasingly angered by the lack of organisation on the part of the RFL, some of which was directed at me. I then had to explain the situation to Miss Proctor and let her know that the games would have to be refereed between the teams and fair play would have to be enforced by the players themselves, which help calm the situation. When the session was finished Miss Proctor apologised for over reacting and stated that she could see that I had been left without the equipment and was just as upset as she was about the lack of organisation.
5.1 Thoughts and Feelings
When I had found out that no equipment had been left by Mr Smith I was immediately shocked and extremely worried as I did not know how I would be able to run the session and whether I would be able to call it off if I was unable to get hold of anything. When I went up to Hawcoat Sports Club and was able to get into the equipment stores I felt a huge relief as I knew even if it was not the RFLs equipment that the participants would not know any difference and the session could go on as planned.
When Miss Proctor became distressed at the lack of organisation on the part of the RFL I felt extremely worried that this would come back against me and my boss (Mr Black) would find out and say he did not want me to complete my work placement due to my apparent incompetence, however this was quickly over come when I explained the situation to Miss Proctor. Finally I felt very angered and let down by the lack of organisation on the part of Mr Smith for being irresponsible enough not to leave me any equipment or any referees. I was also angry at my own inability to contingency plan ahead as we had learnt a lot about this in class but I had not thought I would have needed to in this specific situation.
Looking back and reflecting on the session now I feel that I should have done a lot more in terms of preparation for the session and did not need to leave it until the last minute to get the equipment. I also feel I should have got in contact with the referees to make sure they remembered the session as Mr Smith booked them over three weeks prior to the event and they may have not remembered. I strongly believe that I had the relevant knowledge prior to this incident happening however I feel it was my lack of experience and naivety within the situation which aided my failure. This was definitely poor coaching practice on my part as it was my failure to prepare which caused the initial incident to occur.
After reviewing the literature it is clear to see that planning is one of the most central features of the coaching process (Lyle and Cushion, 2010). This claim is supported by research from Gould (1990) and Lyle (1992) who have looked at elements of coaching which coaches would class as significant, and in both studies planning is seen as a central role of the coach. Lyle and Cushion (2010) also explain that the planning process for coaches must include some “pre determination” and “accounting for consequences”. Lynn (2010) also suggests that within planning there are seven key part of the session which should be accounted for, these include:
Range of activities
Time allocated to each activity
Feedback to athletes
This would suggest that during my coaching I failed to successfully account for the planning process thus performing poor coaching practice.
An ongoing debate with planning is that coaches only plan for problematic environments (Jones and Wallace, 2005). This argument is supported by Cushion et al (2006) who asks the question what can coaches truly plan forMore recently Cushion (2007) has claimed that coaches have “limited roots” when planning, thus limiting what coaches can fully plan for. However Lyle (2007) would argue that planning is the role of the coach and must be managed on a daily basis, taking into account all possibilities. Plan-do-review is commonly seen as the most suitable method of planning to use when coaching (Lyle and Cushion, 2010). I feel that it was my inability to plan for problematic situations which caused me to execute poor coaching practice when running my session.
5.4 Action Plan
From this critical incident it is easy to see that I failed to fully prepare myself for the session and in doing so left myself open to fail. After reviewing the literature it is clear to see that in order to fully prepare yourself for any event it is important to cover every possible scenario with contingency planning and risk assessments as this is allow for the best possible outcome on the day. Since the incident I have had time to look at my reflective log and analyse my own personal practice and have been able to notice that on the day of the session I had planned the session but had failed to make a contingency plan, thus causing me to have to think on my feet and look at other ways to make sure the even still went ahead. This has allowed me to see that in future session I must always create a contingency plan in order for it to run smoothly.
The overall aim of the placement was to further increase my tacit knowledge, gain valuable experience and improve my confidence within the coaching world. I feel was able to achieve these aims through working alongside Cumbria Rugby League Development team, as these provided me with a extremely good platform for learning and allowed me to get a very hands on experience.
Prior to starting the placement I believed my weaknesses were that I lacked craft knowledge and experience of coaching new people, especially young children as I had limited experience working within this coaching domain (Cote and Gilbert, 2009). However the basic knowledge I had gained through completing my level 1 rugby union course and other experiences at university helped me to start off. My perceived weaknesses seen above became evident in the early stages of my placement, when my lack of knowledge and experience led me into situations which I struggled to handle, this resulted in poor and in some cases unethical practice on my part. These incidents in some cases affected the group as they sometimes had to sit around while the incidents were being dealt with. On top of having to wait around, the summer heat and times of lessons e.g. after school caused children to become restless, bored and inevitably hard to coach. However through reflection and the recording of day to day events and outcomes I was able to use knowledge and experience of successful practice to ensure I repeated this, the next time the scenario arose. Also if the practice was not successful I was able to use relevant literature, to provide me with the knowledge required to deal with the same situation effectively if it were to occur again. It is when these similar situations occur, that the improved coaching knowledge gained through successful past experience is applied, this practice is known as evidence based practice (Chapman and Hough, 1998) and has been described as the conscientious, explicit and judicious use of best evidence in making decisions about the care of students (Sackett, Richardson, Rosenberg, Haynes, 1997). This style of practice was used in the latter weeks of coaching.
As well as increasing my tacit coaching knowledge and hands on experience it was also my aim to gain two useful contacts within the RFL which I could use when leaving university. In terms of contacts there was a long list of different coaches I feel I could now contact if I wanted some more coaching experience, however the two most influential contacts I made while working at the RFL were Mr Black and Mr Smith as these coaches can both provide useful references for me in any line of work as well as within rugby league. I would describe the acquisition of these contacts as successful to my aims as I now have two reliable points of contact within the RFL which have both stated they would have no problem granting me reference to potential employers.
For my placement I went to Cumbria Rugby Football League Development, this was undertaken for a period of one hundred and fifty hours over the space of six weeks. During this time I was mentored by Mr Black who is the Head of Cumbria Rugby League Development. In terms of rugby league, Cumbria is one of the most highly thought of counties in the country. With an extremely proud rugby league heritage, Cumbria along with Yorkshire and Lancashire is what the RFL describe as the birth place of rugby league. With such a prestigious heritage it was an honour to work in one of the countries most influential rugby league development teams. This sense of honour made me want to truly excel in my work and put 100% in when ever I was asked to perform a task.
Over the course of my placement I used the Gibbs Cycle as a method of reflecting on my sessions, this allowed me to not only analyse my performance whilst working but also to go away and gain valuable information about what I could do differently in future sessions. However a major criticism of this method is the likelihood of being placed with a specific situation more than once thus making it highly unlikely to fully benefit a coach. Reviewing the placement experience as a whole I would have to say that this placement was a success as it has allowed me to meet all three of my goals within the allotted time frame with very little in terms of problematic experiences.
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