Aspire – the end or the start of something?

18 months
6 ‘weekends’
17 days
3 hotels
1 disabled room (3 times)

If you say me down and asked me to write down what I have learnt from the sports coach UK Aspire program I would undoubtedly stare blankly at a sheet of paper before tentatively scribbling down something about soft skills. The truth however is that while I didnt experience an earth shattering moment of clarity there has been a shift in my focus.

How I evaluate my sessions has changed, i no longer reflect on how well the squad performed during a set but rather on how I performed during it and the impact that has had on the squads approach. The video analysis of me during sessions rather than the swimmers was a shocker.

The time spent on my coaching philosophy was empowering, I coach because I want to win. I want to be a high performing coach and run a high performing centre……and I want ownership of it.  Not coaching 2 give back to the sport or to impact on young peoples lives is ok. Those things will happen but for me they are a biproduct of my main focus. Not everyone is comfortable with that……but thats ok too.

Developing relationships with athletes, something that I would have said I am very weak on I realise that actually I do develop them, of course I do, how would you coach otherwise?

When it comes to a practical application of lessons learnt its all been very subtle, slight shifts here and there nothing major, I doubt the team would be able to pin point a difference. In 1 area though I have worked very hard, building a team identity. We are an individual sport, we race on our own, but we train as a team. The change in the atmosphere around the squad and club makes me smile. We support each other during training we sit together at meets we go for breakfasts after sessions and we even have a club chant.

There have been other changes around club as well, we have a more professional approach to the day to day running of it, and we have better systems in place for communication and conflict resolution.

I am still incredibly uncomfortable inconfrontational situations but its no longer something i shy away from when necessary.

The overall feeling looking back over theblast year and a half is a mixed one. A large percentage of the time I simply felt uncomfortable and at the start a lottle out of my depth. In the end though I would highly recommend this path to anyone who gets the opportunity to take it.


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