“I committed myself to another season of rugby. It was one of the most challenging, yet rewarding experiences I've been through. I learned a lot of new things, both about rugby and myself, on and off the pitch. I have a lot of gratitude for my coach. His leadership and knowledge has made me a better coach, player, and person.” Anonymous Player
Many coaches are judged on their Win Loss Records. Is this always a fair or accurate way of assessing or effective coaching?
Coaching effectiveness refers to the ability of the coaches to implement their knowledge and skills (Boardley, Kavussanu and Ring, 2008). According to the NHS Leadership Centre (2005) effective coaches challenge limiting beliefs and reinforce positive beliefs by providing tasks followed by feedback.
For coaching to be effective within an organisation, a supportive climate is required; one where coaching is regarded as a normal part of managing and where greater importance is placed on learning from mistakes than on blaming people for them (Bolch, 2002). Effective coaching requires that both organisations and the learning establishments that support them adopt a more informed strategy to develop coaches and to build and maintain a climate where coaching can happen (Redshaw, 2000).
This is an area within coaching that is a hard aspect to measure. Less than 10 percent of organisations measure the impact of coaching, according to a survey commissioned by Personnel Decisions International, Minneapolis, (Bolch, 2002)
Hall (2012) stated ‘if coaching isn't holistic, it is not truly coaching’. How then does a ‘coach’ measure how much of an effect he or she is having on their athlete’s lives or performance? Measuring an athlete’s performance is easier. Simply recording KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) is a very normal way to measure an athlete’s progress. However, recording or measuring an athlete’s improvement or progress ‘holistically’ is much more difficult and challenging for many coaches.
Boardley, Kavussanu and Ring et al (2008) conducted research which focused on how to measure the effectiveness of coaches. They related effectiveness to a coaching efficacy model, discovering that coaching efficacy has been defined as the extent to which coaches believe that they have the capacity to influence the learning and performance of their athletes and they discovered that it consists of four dimensions.; Motivation, Game Strategy, Technique and Character Building. Recognizing these components makes measuring coach effectiveness somewhat easier to determine.
Redshaw, (2000) identified that for coaching to be effective within an organisation, a supportive climate is required. This is about the coach creating an environment that players are comfortable working in and more importantly learning in.
Allen and Hodge (2006) say through their interactions with athletes, coaches foster a motivational environment climate that can influence athlete’s thoughts and feelings and actions in sport.
"If you create the right environment, then you can actually use more time efficiently" (International Netball Coach, Cited in Allen and Hodge, 2006).
Allen and Hodge (2006) continue to comment that a climate that fosters feelings of competence, self-determination and relatedness is purported to influence athletes’ thoughts feelings and behaviors such as choices, effort, persistence and enjoyment. Hall (2012) says:
"Coaching is a systemic approach to getting our brains and bodies to function at their best within all of the contexts within contexts that we identify as factors in our lives, factors that affect our success."
For this, the coach needs a good understanding of systemic thinking, processes, and ways of interacting. Creating this learning environment demonstrates that athletes who played for coaches whose behavior was reflective of a motivational climate, emphasizing competence development (i.e. supportive and instructional comments) had positive post season attitudes towards their coach, the sport and team mates, regardless of win loss record. Furthermore, these athletes were more likely to report a desire to continue playing for their coach the following season compared with athletes whose coaches exhibited less support and instruction.
However creating this environment is not easy. Burton, Gillham and Hammermeister (2011) argue that creating a positive environmental change is more challenging in sports where competition tends to detract from, rather than promote, an autonomy supportive climate designed to enhance athletes’ intrinsic motivation.
So it seems that although it will be a challenge to create an environment for athletes to learn and develop in, it is a key element in order to coach holistically. Reiterated by Halls (2012) definition of holistic coaching:
“Getting our brains and bodies to function at their best within all of the contexts within contexts that we identify as factors in our lives, factors that affect our success”
Once coaches have discovered their value and beliefs, created their philosophy, understood how they can become effective and then created an environment that is suitable for athletes and themselves to learn in, their next step as a coach is to gain real control of their own emotions.
How then can a coach measure their effectiveness? The USOC Quality Coaching Frame work use this model created by W. Gilbert (2017)
If you are a coach you should look how you want these areas to be evaluated, and then how you interpret & perceive that evaluation & feedback is also important. Personally, I have many conversations with people, provide qualitative and quantitative surveys. As that's how I tend to learn best. Again, how you read into these have to be done without a biased opinion, but also with a pinch of salt. Sometimes the people you speak to may be biased, are not aware that they have improved, not aware that they have implicitly learned things, or recognize that the coach has pulled out knowledge or potential that the athlete, team, organisation didn’t know they had. Documenting everything at the start, mid way point and end of the season maybe a good tool to reflect back on to provide evidence for actions.
Its not always going to be easy, its not always going to be smooth and coaches will always have to make hard decisions for the betterment of the athlete or player even if at the time they don’t think it benefits them.