An Infographic for a Cycling Coach

Infografic pic

Promotes life skills like team work through coaching

Most of the time when I am coaching I am working with children in their last two years of primary school, which is a time when they are developing a lot of life skills that they will need in the future. Therefore I added life skills to the infographic. Life skills, in this case, would include traits like good teamwork, communication skills, dealing with defeat, dealing with victory and so on. It is important that children learn these skills in their coaching sessions because sport can help produce positive cognitive outcomes so long as a “mastery climate” is created (Weiss et al., 2013).

I believe I touch on this in the race events I run because when the riders sign on they are issued a score card which they are in charge of putting their name and race number on and giving it to the judge at the start of the event. If they manage this the get a time bonus in the time trail section of the event. This teaches them organisation and gives them responsibility. However I don’t think I promote life skills enough in my coaching session. This is something I need to work on in the future.

Promotes fun and enjoyment in sport

I have included fun and enjoyment in the infographic because it will underpin everything else you are trying to develop in the riders. If the riders are enjoying themselves then they are more likely to engage with the activity you are setting them, and are therefore more likely to learn from them. Enjoyment also improves the ability to learn, a view which is supported by the work of Baker (2012) which states that fun and enjoyment are an “excellent mode for developing creativity and learning across a broad range of subject areas reaching from preschool to adulthood”.

A way to create fun and enjoyment might be that every activity I run whether there is some form of competition in it or not, are created as games. This is best described as each session being tailored to encourage each rider to enjoy the cycling and the challenges it provides.

I believe I do this during my coaching sessions as I am always talking to the riders about races they have taken part in and the question I ask them is “did you have fun” and if they did I congratulate them on it. I rarely ask them about their result. As for actual coaching I ensure that throughout I steer focus towards enjoying the session by asking riders if it was enjoyable among other things. I will also take feedback from the riders to find out what they enjoyed, what they didn’t and what they would like to have done so that my sessions are always getting better and better.  I believe I succeed in making every activity fun to do and often this involves playing games

Coaches with a long-term mind-set

“Coaches with a long-term mind-set” means having a long term direction for the development of the riders, to progress them from where they are now to where they will be many years in the future. For example if you had a “short-term mind-set” as a football coach you would never play you worst players as you are looking to win each game each weekend. This would mean the players who need the practice actually get the least. However an example of a long-term mind-set would be if the coach played the worst players a lot allowing them to gain experience and develop as players, improving the team overall.

I have included this because I coach younger riders and I have no idea where they might end up in the sport. They could turn out to be Olympic champions or coaches, or leisurely riders or they may not even participate in the sport after a few years. Whatever they may be I have to prepare them for it as best as I can. So giving them a good fundamental skill set will mean they will be in a good position to choose what discipline of cycling they go into. If I give them good personality traits like communication skills then they will have it throughout their lives in work, sport, and socially.

Throughout my coaching I try to keep a long-term mind-set by encouraging traits in the riders that will ensure their participation for a long period of time. For example, the internal motivation of enjoying simply participating in the sport rather than for an external reason of beating people will keep them motivated to take part for a lot longer. “Long-term mind-set” is a very important trait to have as a coach, my ability to coach with a long-term mind-set could be a lot better than it currently is, and is something I’m always trying to improve.

Promotes good personality traits like kindness, determination and positivity

As I mentioned before sport is a good platform to develop cognitively and learn new social skills. Therefore I included this in the infographic. Personality traits can include kindness, determination and positivity as mentioned but also resilience, selflessness and self-confidence.

This trait has been a focus in my coaching for a long time, as I believe if it very beneficial to the participants not only in their day to day lives but also in their cycling lives. I do this through facilitating positive feedback with the group. This is where I would encourage them to positively reflect on a part of the session or a previous race. Also I regularly encourage them to help and encourage each other during the session.

Is good at seeing things from other peoples’ perspective

This trait would be the ability of the coach to put themselves in the participants shoes and see things how they are seeing them. Empathy is one of my strong points and I use this regularly in my coaching. Most people have never had any cycling coaching and often have had little time riding a bike at all. Because of this it can be very alien to the participants so I have to really think how they are seeing and interpreting the instructions I’m giving them as I have been riding for a long time and lot of the techniques I am teaching are almost second nature. To enable riders to get the most out of the session I really have to try to explain things to them in a way they will understand.

Gives the participants a voice and teaching them how to use it

This means making the riders feel that you value their opinion and that what they have to say matters. This is important because it links in with the work of Mageau and Vallerand (2003) on creating an autonomy-supportive style which is vital to develop riders in the best way.

I use this technique often with groups I have worked with a few times. For example, I may let them choose what they want to do in the next session, I would give them a few options and they would select what they liked the most. Another method I use is getting them to give each other feedback, this encourages them to think about the techniques and what they look like. Furthermore this shows them that their opinion matters but they have to convey that opinion in a nice productive way.

Consistently developing as a professional

This would be making sure that you’re always researching the latest theories and methods of doing things so you are coaching in the best way possible. Always learning from your mistake and constantly striving to be a better coach.

I believe I do this but could be more efficient with it. I always try to challenge myself by putting myself in challenging situations. For example I am volunteering with the Olympic Development Apprentice program at British Cycling with is working with athletes who are at a much higher level than I am used to. This helps develop my skills as a coach. Another aspect of this is learning from the mistakes I have made. I do this more often than not however it is still something than needs to be improved on.

Is friendly, approachable and professional

This one is quite self-explanatory, the coach must be someone that the riders find easy to come to with their problems. The coach should be friendly so that they can get along with the riders as they are younger and the better rapport between the two the more productive the session will be. A professional outlook should be kept in cycling, as with coaching in all environments, it requires the coach to be organised and on time among other professional qualities.

I believe I do this quite well as riders often come to me with their problems and I rarely get a rider who doesn’t feel like they can tell me they are struggling or don’t understand. Also I get on with the riders well and they are often coming over to have a chat when we see each other at races. However, professionally I could improve more, I am lacking in my organisation but my professional communication with others and organisations with which I work with is a lot stronger.

Looks after the welfare of the participants in and out of the session

This would involve ensuring the sessions are safe and beneficial to the riders. It would also involve keeping an eye out for any signs of abuse of miss treatment that the children may have faced and taking the correct steps to address this as and when it happens. This is very important as it involves a child’s safety and in some extreme cases can mean the difference between life and death.

I believe I am good at this as over the years I have been coaching I have identified a few cases where a child’s welfare was at risk and I took the appropriate action to help that child.

References

Weiss, M., Stuntz, C., Bhalla, J., Bolter, N. and Price, M. (2013). ‘More than a game’: impact of The First Tee life skills programme on positive youth development: project introduction and Year 1 findings. Qualitative Research in Sport, Exercise and Health, 5(2), pp.214-244.

Baker, L. (2012). Fun and Games: Connecting for learning. International Journal of Disability, Development and Education, 59(1), pp.119-123.

Mageau, G. and Vallerand, R. (2003). The coach–athlete relationship: a motivational model. Journal of Sports Sciences, 21(11), pp.883-904.

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