After spending much of my time at school playing sports I always appreciated the positive effect team sports had on development of key skills. But, it wasn’t until I took a break from sports to build my career, before returning and taking up coaching, that I realised how much my career could aid my sporting experiences in return.
I have always enjoyed working behind the scenes of communication, finding and developing messaging, working up clear quotes and statements and discussing answers to possibly tricky questions. Put simply, helping others to communicate and promote themselves clearly.
In my role as a coach, planning sessions and the development of the team for the season is where my two worlds collide. Just as in my work, when I develop a communications strategy to fit into the business plan, I plan every session and fit this into an over-arching plan for the development for the season. Using my knowledge of planning communications campaigns, I opt for a DRIP approach (sending messages in parts, bit by bit), breaking down the skills and building them back up.
Thinking about the way to teach new and reinforce developed skills, to a group of varying abilities, ages and languages uses the same skills as communicating to larger groups through marketing and PR strategies. You need to identify the target audience and take note of their behaviours and learning styles, then use methods which complement them. The only difference is, coaching is face-to-face so you can see the reactions and adapt in real time.
Using different methods of communication and explanation to engage and educate – explaining, demonstrating, drawing and helping players explore the skills and feel confident with each element. Many a time they don’t realise how much they have improved until they use the skill in a game. Just as you move people through the marketing funnel, depending on how well members of the target audience engage, in sports, after the movements are developed, player roles and game strategies can be introduced, moving the players through the funnel.
As the players develop as individuals they also begin to gel as a team, learning new life skills; teamwork, communication, leadership and group roles which help the team to progress as a group. Outside of sports individuals can use their new skills as they work through their time at school or chosen career more able to communicate and work as a team, manage disappointment and stress better and set goals to help them progress.
My two worlds, coaching and communication collide and help me to improve, on a daily basis. What I learn from one I can adapt for the other. I see the whole as well as the parts, I plan with more specific actions and I find varied methods to communicate to target audiences who engage differently with different channels and types of content.