Planning for your future coaching self

    Sue Shapcott

    The winter is the perfect time to improve your skills as a coach but it is vital you pick the right courses for your business, writes Sue Shapcott.

    The golf season’s frenetic pace is slowing down. The evenings are shortening, the air is chilling and you have time to breathe again. It is the perfect time to reflect on the year and start planning for next season.

    The winter months provide an ideal time to develop your coaching skills, and there is no shortage of opportunities. The culture of modern-day golf coaching values professional development and self-improvement. Coaches are curious, and continuing education has become a norm for golf industry professionals. To meet coaches’ needs, professional golf associations offer a wide range of professional development opportunities. Coaches can improve their technical and biomechanical knowledge, learn to apply sport psychology in their practice, attend seminars hosted by tour player coaches, or be introduced to the latest coaching technology, to name just a few.

    It is great to have so many choices for professional development, but it is worth considering how strategic you are in selecting the courses you take. If you are like me, you will sign up for courses that interest you. You may also sign up for a course that you think will help your own game. Or you may even be drawn to courses in subject areas that you are already expert – they make for easy professional development points, and you have an opportunity to demonstrate your knowledge. There is nothing wrong with this selection process; interest in a subject and success are major predictors of motivation. However, professional development courses should be doing just that – developing you professionally so you can better manage or grow your coaching business.

    To benefit from the investment you make in yourself, consider selecting your professional development courses more strategically this year. To do that, first consider the following questions:
    1. What is your core business? Do you specialise in developing junior talent? Do you work with elite players? Do you work with teams? Do you work mostly with entry-level golfers?
    2. What type of coach do you want to be in the future? Do you want to stay within your current niche, or are you looking to shift your business in a different direction?
    3. What do you want your coaching business to look like in one year, two years and five years’ time?

    When you have identified the coach you want to be in the future, the next step is to identify the skills and knowledge required to be that person. For example, if I decide that I want my core coaching business to focus on corporate team building, the skills and knowledge I need to succeed are different than if I decide I want to be a coach who specialises in developing junior talent. For example, the table on the left provides examples of skills and knowledge that may be considered valuable for these two distinct types of coaching.

    After identifying who you want to be and the skills required for success, you should then look in the mirror. Reflect on your current coaching skills and knowledge and start evaluating yourself. How much do you know, how reliable is your knowledge and how do you currently perform in the areas you have identified as important for your success? This isn’t easy, but it is worthwhile.
    By working through this process, you will probably identify and prioritise one or two areas that need developing. Armed with this knowledge, you can be more strategic about the courses you select for your professional development. Not only will you invest in courses that are aligned with your present or future coaching goals, but the courses will help you develop skills that you have identified  as necessary.

    As you start thinking about your professional development this winter, do yourself a favour. Before signing up for professional development courses that pique your interest, do your homework first. This year try approaching the list of courses strategically. Instead of seeing what is available to you, consider what fulfills your professional needs.

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    A graduate of Cardiff University’s highly respected post-graduate magazine journalism course, Andy has successfully edited four different publications across the B2B, trade and consumer sectors. He is skilled at all aspects of the magazine process in addition to editing websites and managing social media channels.