Monday 19 February 2018

Feedback is paramount if you want to grow as a coach

The axe has fallen on Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers
The axe has fallen on Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers

Eamonn Molloy

Coaching the Coach

It has been a stressful month for many coaches, with the axe falling on Brendan Rodgers, stand-offs in Mayo and Galway GAA circles, and England’s Stuart Lancaster under enormous pressure.

Regardless of the code, many of the critical factors remain the same, such as results, player satisfaction, back-room perception.

While many of you may not have a board to answer to, it is important to have a process of reviewing your performance as a coach and that of your coaching team.

As a coach you are adept at critically assessing the 30 or so players in your squad, but how do you receive feedback and from whom?

Coaches’ Review

At Connacht Rugby many long days on the training pitch conclude with a coaches’ meeting, allowing not only for a frank discussion on how the plans were implemented, but also for coaches to give feedback and challenge each other.

We take it for granted that an individual will not grow as a player unless he receives quality information, followed by the opportunity to put it into practice. 

Coaches are no different.

Ideally a review should be done in a brief meeting post-session or match, but it could be done through an email thread or online discussion.

Many squads now also have a players leadership group which not only implement the strategy on the pitch but have the ear of management on coaching practice.

Club Review

A club review should be made up of the stakeholders of your section within the club, such as a rugby committee.

The objective of this is to give the wider group an insight of what you are trying to implement with your squad and how it fits with the bigger picture of your club.

Ask the following of yourself:

• Does your training maximise the development of all your players.

• Does your style of play develop players and fit with that of the club.

• Are you playing players in the position where they have the best future.

It is also an ideal opportunity to ensure you have wider agreement on your policies regardless of the consequences. Many teams may set rules such as “if you don’t train you don’t play” or “everyone must get a game” which will undoubtedly impact results, but with club agreement may well create a better culture within the club.

360-degree Review

A 360-degree review is probably the most useful tool in receiving honest feedback as it allows players and management the anonymous freedom to say what they may not feel comfortable doing face-to-face.

The review involves drawing up an anonymous questionnaire encompassing areas such as rugby knowledge, communication, man-management etc.

They are usually best conducted at the half-way point in a season, this allows you to address areas of your coaching you may need to improve or change.

It will also become the culture that the players know they will have this opportunity to have their say and invoke change if required.

This environment is a polar opposite to that which would lead to a player revolt, where the perception of the coach, those appointing him and the players are in no way aligned.

Eamonn Molloy is Connacht’s coach development manager. The coach development department is available to assist in sessions and facilitate workshops throughout the province. Contact a development officer to assist you or your club by emailing:

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