The Insider is the voice of someone within sport, anonymously discussing the experiences and issues faced during their career.
In this second edition, The Insider is a Sports Performance Coach who has worked alongside elite level Players and Management over a number of years.
You don’t just wake up one morning and suddenly you are coaching top tier athletes. I think the nature of the world we are in at the minute, of instant content and interaction, tricks people into the idea that you can do a couple of qualifications and set up a nice drill for Instagram then, bang, “I’m a Coach”.
My reality was that I was never quite good enough as a player but I always felt like I knew how a game or performance should pan out. My technical ability to execute it was the problem. So how could I take that experience and turn it into quality guidance and advice for others? We’ve got this massive thing in the UK of someone’s Dad running the local team, and while you can’t fault them for love and passion, they only usually get you so far. A confident Coach with a strong message can make all the difference at any level. It doesn’t have to be that you’ve performed at a top level for 20 years, you just need to do the leg work in other ways.
So yes, I did the sessions and got the certifications I needed but not without gaining that experience alongside. If you just sit the courses and tick off the exams without applying it then you’re just a badge collector. You’d encounter the odd ex-pro or someone who had been around sport a long time that were like ducks to water with it all, but for most of us you have got to go and get your hands dirty.
There was a phase I went through when I first started volunteering as a Coach. It was assisting someone who had done it all really, played at the top level and earned most of the qualifications available in terms of Coaching as well. You were in awe of them. But there was a freedom given to me to put on my own sessions and help out wherever I could.
As time went by, the Coach would just turn to me mid-session and say “over to you for the next 15 minutes”. I can still feel that in the pit of my stomach. My mind is going blank and I am flapping. The placid kids I’ve been helping suddenly seem like a pack of wolves waiting for me to deliver. I cobbled something together but even then, I have got an eye on the session and an eye over my shoulder thinking “is this good enough, am I doing this to a standard”. It would be a relief when those 15 minutes were over and I still vividly remember all of it, being right at the edge of my control and ability. The lesson was learnt though, be prepared for any situation or eventuality. The Coach wasn’t trying to kill me on the spot, he was trying to apply a pressure that drives you to be clear of thought and organised.
You read about those traits in the books and hear about them on your courses, but it all means nothing until you’re stood there feeling it and need to show it.
I’d imagine there were times I arrived at an early session volunteering thinking “this is going to be a nightmare”. When you ask that question of yourself, you can either stand up to it or fade away. That is the key to progression. It is easy for many other things to get in the way, like expectant students and parents or the people you are working alongside, but you have to remember your own personal goals and where you want to be.
That is my journey I guess, and I’m making sure to remind myself of that emotion every day to keep my head where it needs to be.