March 26, 2021

Carry on coaching

Coaching has been challenging over the past year, but a dedicated new coaching plan is about to change all that. Danny Cameron, Regional Coaching Organiser for Northern Counties, explains how an initiative is helping clubs refocus and revitalise their offering.

I'm a passionate believer that a vibrant coaching offer lies at the heart of the best participant experience. Whether for a social archer or an elite athlete, quality coaching should be at the heart of any club, and all points beyond.

What is vibrant coaching?

Existing coaches should feel fully supported, appreciated, motivated and engaged, and able to fulfil their own coaching ambitions. And by extension, it should be a family that others want to join, precisely for all of these reasons. When coaching is vibrant, a sport is vibrant.

Coaches at every level will be more than familiar with the principles of Plan-Do-Review, and hundreds of coaches put this into practice for thousands of archers every day. (Even lockdown hasn't stopped this, with so many coaches exercising determination and creativity to modify the way they support the archers they work with).

Club coaching plan

At the turn of the year, we set up a scheme across Northern Counties Archery Society (NCAS) to encourage and support club coaches to apply Plan-Do-Review with the broader view of their whole coaching offer. Not just how this applies with an individual archer, but by developing a Club Coaching Plan which defines how a club recruits, retains and develops its archers, and equally importantly, how a club recruits, retains and develops its coaches.

Working with two other members of the NCAS committee (Pete Gregory and Jude Lane), and with the support of the County Coaching Organisers across the region, we've had an initial 30 clubs participate and complete the project so far. Once clubs had expressed interest, we set up small-group Zoom sessions to discuss the idea.

Each lead coach received the same template plan, prompting where that club is now, where it wants to get to, and how it's going to achieve those goals through coaching delivery. Lead coaches consulted with their coach colleagues and club committee, and brought into focus countless individual issues. Some of the most important concerned areas like succession planning and delegation. Are more experienced coaches passing on responsibility (to those newer qualified coaches), so they have time to provide more advanced coaching, and those coming up the ranks get to take on proper responsibility?

A new outlook

No two clubs are the same, so of course no two plans have emerged the same: but this is where the value is. The plan is created and owned by those who execute it, and it is as unique as their club, members and coaches are.

The feedback we've had as coaches have been compiling their plans has been absolutely brilliant. "It's helping us put coaching back at the heart of our club” was one comment, while "This will help to reset our coaching offer”, was another. Every plan has been fascinating to read, and where appropriate, we have hooked up clubs with other coaches who have expertise or experience in an area where a skills gap has been identified in a plan.

Coaching is rewarding

We've also followed up with larger Zoom discussions, and a ‘reward' scheme supported by NCAS, which provides clubs with both vouchers to redeem against online coaching modules (Empowering Archery and Introduction to Technical Framework), which can be used by existing coaches at the club, or provided to Session Coach candidates. We've also launched an NCAS annual award for the best Club Coaching Plan of the Year.

Hopefully, more clubs will join the scheme with the ongoing support from NCAS, and those who are already a part of it will continue to use their own plans as a relevant working document to be regularly updated. I'm not sure anyone goes into coaching to spend time writing up a couple of sides of A4 each year, but if the value of doing so far exceeds the time spent, it has to be worth it.

Find out more

If someone from NCAS would like to access the existing scheme, we have a seamless way of inducting new clubs. Outside the region, if any CCOs or RCOs would like to set up their own scheme, I'd be happy to help! Either way, please contact me direct at:

  • Danny Cameron is NCAS RCO, a County Coach, Coach Developer and lead coach at Thirsk Bowmen, which has ontarget Performance status.

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