The ability to make a difference to people’s lives through sport, and the knowledge that you are part of creating a more fulfilling life for others, can be something quite life-affirming. It was, after all, the legendary US Hall of Fame basketball coach Morgan Wootten who once said:

That’s the beauty of coaching. You get to touch lives, you get to make a difference. You get to do things for people who will never pay you back – and they say you’ve never had a perfect day until you do something for someone who will never pay you back. MORGAN WOOTTEN

Coaching Week 2019

Sport has the power to change lives for the better. And coaching is changing. Through coaching in sport, you get to change your life for the better as well as positively impacting the lives of others.

And so to Coaching Week 2019. Between 3rd-9th June 2019, clubs, coaches, community groups, education, businesses and the public will come together to showcase and explore how coaches can play a greater role in building healthier, happier communities.

Coaching Week 2019 aims to be a springboard for inspiring the public and to empower, support and develop coaches. For anyone currently involved in coaching, or aspiring coaches, it must have been difficult to not have been inspired by Pep Guardiola, Jürgen Klopp and co, and Coaching Week is very much in step with this more modern and progressive coaching mindset.

How Coaching is Changing

Over the last decade or so, there has been a notable shift in how elite coaching is carried out, and it is filtering down to all levels. In football, the new breed of elite coaches – Guardiola, Klopp and Mauricio Pochettino – have embraced an entirely different style of management to the old ‘rule with an iron fist’, almost fear-based approach of days gone by (think Sir Alex Ferguson, Jose Mourinho).

This elite trio have led the way not just in progressive styles of play, bravery on the ball etc, but also with a more human, sympathetic and understanding nature. Players and athletes these days – from the elite to the grassroots – tend to no longer respond well to being screamed at. Critically, Pep and co are not afraid to be the players’ friend – something that, previously, was always studiously avoided; the manager was the manager, not your friend.

They are not afraid to show their emotions – witness Pochettino’s tears after his Spurs side overcame Ajax to reach the Champions League final, or Klopp’s emotional farewell to Borussia Dortmund.

We live in changing times, in which it is important that men are allowed to show their emotions, and awareness about mental health is, thankfully, increasing all the time. This sort of coaching facilitates a clear togetherness in its teams and squads, and empowers players to express themselves on and off the pitch.

A trend for mutual respect seems to have developed, too, which strikes us as very much a positive step forward. In a fabulous recent article for the Irish Times, journalist Ken Early wrote about the new age of coaches, and why they no longer engage in the frankly tedious ‘mind games’ we so often saw with the likes of Ferguson, Wenger, Benitez and Mourinho a generation earlier. Early wrote:

So why haven’t Jürgen Klopp or Mauricio Pochettino been tempted to crank up the psychological pressure on Pep? It could be that they know what they have in common is more important than what divides them. In one sense Pep is Klopp’s biggest rival. But in another, he’s a kindred spirit – one of a small group of people in English football who fully understands what he’s trying to do. One day the rest of the culture might catch up with the pair of them. ken early, the irish times

Cricket’s Support Networks

In cricket, after the very public trials and tribulations of the likes of Marcus Trescothick and Jonathan Trott, authorities have been highly proactive in ensuring structures are put in place to equip coaches with the necessary tools and support networks to coach in modern and progressive ways.

Cricket is a unique sport – a numbers and stats-dominated team game comprised of a series of intense individual battles. Individual performance is tangibly and objectively measured and compared through the use of batting and bowling statistics, with averages and number of runs scored or wickets taken being used as key performance indicators.

Football is completely different – a player can, for example, not score a goal, but can still be subjectively perceived that he or she has had a good game.

There is, on the contrary, no hiding place in cricket, and the sport’s pressures are unique. Possibly due to those pressures, coupled with the vast amount of time spent away from home, depression in cricket has, frankly, been rife, with Andrew Flintoff, Steve Harmison, Trott, Trescothick and many more elite cricketers – all of whom had, on the face of it, the cricketing world at their feet – suffering with depression and mental health troubles. It has been an alarming trend, but the cricketing community has responded commendably.

Sports Coaches – More Than Just Sports Coaches

And so in these times of heightened awareness of mental health, coaches in sport now find themselves playing critical roles in supporting their players – both as players and as human beings. Coaching is hugely rewarding and there’s never been a better time to get involved and make differences to people’s lives that go way over and above merely a sporting context. Check out the Coaching Week 2019 website for more information on the tools and resources you and your club can use, and how it will showcase and explore how great coaching creates the conditions for players and communities to thrive. Get involved!

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