Katie Arup updates us on her progress so far in UK Sport’s Female Coaches Leadership Programme where she has been shadowing her mentor and learning more about the benefits of reflective practice.
“As I had hoped, the UK Sport shadowing programme for Female Coaching & Elite Performance is continuing to deliver great opportunities, networking and learning. At this point, the course is very much focused on us (the 27 coaches on the course) as individuals. And how we can move our personal development forward. It is about how we function as coaches within our clubs and how we contribute to our sport overall.
We are being encouraged to look at our performance as coaches in the same way that we would look at our athletes. All the coaches in the group are used to helping their athletes improve their performance through benchmarking and assessment, problem-solving, reflection, gratitude, etc. However, it is new for most of us to turn the tables on ourselves and to look at our own performances as coaches. Becoming more successful requires us to look at the journey we are on professionally, where our careers will take us, which athletes we would like to be teaching, what jobs we are working towards in our futures, what personal skills we would need to improve in order to be ready for those jobs. And ultimately how personal permission, confidence and leadership skills will help us along that journey to achieve success for ourselves and therefore our athletes.
This month I have shadowed my group mentor, Claire Morrison as she works with 3 elite BOCCIA athletes preparing for Tokyo. Me and my group have virtually joined them on two separate elite athlete training days. It has been fascinating to watch this super coach in action and understand how crucial her methods of interaction with the athletes are. Her calm, prepared approach enables her athletes to absorb key learning points and enjoy their training process no matter how challenging. It’s good to see how well structured their training programme is. These are all areas that I am inspired to scrutinise in my own coaching methods. As a group, we have all been surprised to realise how many of the skills we know we need to be the best performance coaches in our own sport are universal across all other sports too. Learning alongside BOCCIA, golf, swimming and track & field coaches is definitely broadening my understanding of how to help an athlete to fulfil their individual potential and more.
Alongside the shadowing experience, UK Sport is also delivering a series of modules, each one focusing on a different coaching performance methodology. The first module we completed was about reflective practice. How we as coaches can use this framework to analyse and improve our teaching practices. Experiencing that shift within our own journeys will enlighten and inspire us to work together with our athletes on their reflective practices. I have been able to see how effective reflection will enable our athletes to take ownership of their performance and how from this, they can then gain better structures within their training planning, which will in turn deliver improved performance goals.
I am finding taking charge of my own reflective practice is very empowering, especially during these locked down times when my usual sense of purpose is being challenged as the weeks of Zoom training drags on into months. Reflection is helping me to get some structure back – actually a much better, improved structure! – and I am feeling better prepared and ready for when we can return to physical presence fencing training as before.
The next module on the course will look at the process of networking. I cannot wait to tackle this next subject and learn more about how to improve my coaching methods. Thank you to British Fencing and UK Sport for giving me these learning opportunities.”
Katie recently joined UK Sport’s Female Coaches Leadership Programme and is providing updates from the course as she progresses through the modules. You can read her previous update about the start of the programme here.
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