Tuesday, December 01, 2009

The Advanced Coaching Course - Better Late than Never

The final weekend of the 2009 Advanced Coaching Course wound up this fall, and I regret I've been remiss in my blogging, so here we go.

It was tough. Bottom line, the course, if completed, serves to professionalize your approach to coaching. While in the early training sessions we did some practical coaching modules, it became clear that the purpose of those modules was to ensure that participating coaches understand and by into the notion of coaching across a continuum, and that the coaches are on board with using player-centered coaching methods. Once that gate is passed, the emphasis of the course shifts to game analysis, player and team profiling, year long periodization cycles, and technical growth.

It was tough. Can I say that again? First off, I was the only coach in attendance who was not currently a Super League or National Team coach. I got very lucky getting into the program, and was able to do so through my role as a course leader, participating in the Elite coaching course, and via my stalking of Nigel Melville. Essentially, someone dropped out of the course and I was in the right place, LITERALLY, at the right time, and was able to fill the seat last minute.

The very first session was a bit intimidating - we did game analysis and practical coaching. We coached players, and our peers. EVERYTHING, and I mean EVERYTHING we did, we presented to our peers, to the facilitors, and the instructors. Now, by peers, I mean super league and national team coaches. Admittedly it took me a little while to get over the sticker shock of coaching some of the most well known names in the American game, but thanks to the facilitators and mentors (all very senior IRB and USA folks), the shock didn't last too long and I was able to move on (whew!).

There was a significant amount of attrition in the course, which lasted for 1 year and included 3 face-to-face workshops and about a zillion deliverables. Recently the announcement went out for applicants for the 2010 cycle, and here's my recommendation to anyone thinking about it. If you aspire to run your team and your own coaching practice as a professional, DO IT. If you are in it to get a feather in your cap, a stamp on your resume, or to just rub shoulders with the various guest coaches and the attendees, don't do it. The shoulder rubbing part is certainly one of the best parts of the course, but IMHO, that privilege should be reserved for the few coaches who really want to bring their entire coaching practice to the next level - not just their technical knowledge. The technical knowledge we were exposed to, from both guest coaches and from each other, was tremendous, but without the analysis, profiling, and planning pieces, it really doesn't carry the same bang.

If anyone's got any questions about the course, or is thinking about doing it, etc .. please don't be shy about asking, or if you were a participant, don't be shy about commenting. Personally, I thought it was a fabulous experience, and I'm still processing everything I came away with. But it was hard. It was challenging, thought provoking, and time consuming, and really forced you to examine how you do things, whether your serving your team and your players to the best of your abilities, and more than anything, it reminded me of how much ALL of us still have to learn. Hopefully we are creating a community of coaches who all want to move the practice forward, and even more, hopefully the next class of coaches will continue and push the envelope even further.

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