Coaching - 2001
The Youth Sport evaluation of 1998 suggested that Coaching was a key element to the Youth Sport programme and had a major role to play in the future development of programmes. It identified that in many areas there was a deficit in the number of coaches in certain sports and that there needed to be a partnership approach if this matter was to be addressed.
Following a meeting of the Education based Sports Development Officers it was agreed to run a coaching week for Youth Sport Coaches in conjunction with each of the five Boards to develop the philosophy of Youth Sport with each of these coaches. As a result five coaching days were organised at:-
- Brownlow Leisure Centre
- Lough Moss Leisure Centre
- University of Ulster at Coleraine
- Foyle and Londonderry College
- Lakeland Forum in Enniskillen
Funding for these sessions came from a partnership involving the Northern Ireland Institute of Coaching, Youth Sport Trust and the Sports Council for Northern Ireland. Following discussions with the Youth Sport Trust it was agreed to run a two-hour add on session. Those coaches who attended this TOPs training session would be given a TOP Sport Bag so that when they were out developing Youth Sport in either their schools or clubs they could put it to best use. This proved an excellent initiative and was very well received by the coaches. So having held the training sessions in June 2000 what is the way forward for coaching in Youth Sport?
It is quite easy to say that Youth Sport is up and running, and therefore we can step back and move onto another project. This couldn't be further from the truth. In order to ensure quality within the programmes we must constantly work with coaches to improve the quality of what they are doing. Sports Development Officers should provide a link between the Governing Body course and the newly qualified coach. By linking them into a Youth Sport session we will give them instant experience and immediate involvement. We need to continually supply support for coaches working within the programme, trying to identify what their needs are and support those needs win whatever way possible. The management of coaches is not just the role of the Governing Body, but both the Sports Development Officers in Education, the Sports Development Officers in local councils and the School Sports Co-ordinators have a role to play in ensuring the quality of what they are delivering.
Presently three Board areas are producing coaching strategies namely, North East, South East and Belfast and this will give us a clear direction for the way forward for coaching in Northern Ireland. There is a need:-
- to provide and develop coaches at all levels, to develop new coaches, and support high level coaches;
- to ensure that the coaches working with young people are appropriately trained and know how to enthuse young people into sport.
At the various sessions held around the province coaches were reminded of some of the key messages when working on a youth sport session. These messages are:-
- Ensure the children feel safe and secure at the session
- Allow children to discover new skills through small sided games
- Praise rather than criticise
- Don't tell young people all the answers, let them find out for themselves.
- Let the young people play - don't over coach
- Remember children want to be with their friends
- Avoid queues
- Allow them to play a variety of sports
- Give appropriate rewards - medals will come later
- Ensure fun and enjoyment at all of the sessions.