Exciting times ahead for sport at Westminster upon the recent announcement that a Sports Pavilion will be a welcome addition to the new upgrades being made on grounds. I’ve been fortunate to discuss the proposal with members our passionate community and get a real feel for the concept and what it's actualisation might mean to the community. What’s so interesting is that for different people the conceptualised plans mean different things, just as in sport where some participate for fun, some for socialising, for fitness, or for the sheer love of competition and challenge. It became apparent that regardless of motives, the support was there to see the project through to reality. So why is the desire so great? Of course there are practicalities that the facility will fulfil in function, both in education and sport, but it’s much more than just that. It’s about giving sport a home with presence, and providing moments.
If you ask any athlete what is the moment they most remember about their great successes you get a pretty common answer. It's the moments that matter; the moment that you enter the stadium, the moment you make that play, the moment on the pitch, field or court that the final whistle sounds and you know you’ve done it.
It’s about being able to share and showcase those moments with those you love, looking up to the crowd to share in failures and triumphs, looking at the faces of family who have supported you to get you where you are. Moments in time.
The reality is that only a small percentage of athletes will ever make it to the top ranks of their sport. Regardless if you are in the As or the Ds, for most people, even some of our more talented athletes, their schooling years will be the pinnacle of their sporting careers, providing memories to be cherished as the hopefully play on thorough their more senior years. A Sports Pavilion is about creating a base for sport, a new space for education, a showcase for achievement and history, and a home to make moments happen.
Most people would know a topic that is very close to my heart is coaching. It is a profession divided by opinion, personal experiences and preferences. Coaches are expected to affect technical and athletic performance, behaviour, psychology and emotional wellbeing, however are sometimes transitioned into the role with high expectations and very little formal training. Yet we know the role of the coach is crucial to the success of athletes and teams, and similar to the role of teachers in students’ lives, coaches have significant impact on those they work with on a daily basis.
By my own interpretation, a quality coach is able to facilitate excellence as determined by those they are working with. Though this statement might seem a little grand at first, when we consider that the needs of each athlete will differ dependant on their goals, this is in essence their own version of excellence. Of course, different stages of physical/emotional development and athlete experience level will determine athlete expectations and in turn determine the ever changing requirements of the coach. So what does this mean? It means not all coaches are created equal and sourcing best fit can be quite the challenge. So what do you do if you have a good one you want to keep?
Sounds like a no-brainer but it seems that we sometimes forget that coaches are humans too. Job satisfaction matters in the workplace and if you want to keep good people, they need to feel valued.
Let’s be real, the majority of coaches are not extremely well paid. They are volunteers or hobbyists contributing to a sport they love. They are not in it for the money.
So how do we make sure we keep our quality of coaches? Firstly we need our athletes to show up to practice… early. Why? Because time is valuable, our coaches time is valuable. Why should they waste the first 10 minutes telling our student/athletes to run for warm up while half of the team straggle in? We want our coaches spending the most amount of time doing what they do best, coaching. Secondly, teach our student athletes how to ask questions in sport, first by listening, then by trying, then by questioning. Coaches will rarely deliver drills that they do not truly believe an athlete is capable of performing, but the thing is often the athlete doesn’t know that they can yet! They need to learn to try first, then try again before coming back with questions or constructive criticism. It’s about building a trusting relationship with the coach. Help our students to gain confidence to deliver feedback to coaches in a respectful way. Its okay to disagree in the realm of sport, the key is to be working towards the same goal. Coaches enjoy working with athletes who are engaged and positively challenge them.
Lastly, assist our students to understand “if it is to be, it is up to me”. Unfortunately the coach cannot play the game for you. Our coaches can only do so much and taking responsibility for our own best efforts on the training court or the field goes a long way to keeping quality coaches around. Responsibility is a building block for coachability.
Looking forward to seeing best efforts again after the long weekend break, and remember to thank your coach for showing up, preparing practice and supporting you through the ups and downs of the season.
Yours in High Performance,
Head of Sport Development and High Performance