I have been giving some thought recently to the concept of 'reflective practice'. Essentially a key component of any coach aspiring to become a high level or level 4 coach is the capacity to critically analyse thier coaching, have the discipline to document this analysis and then act on the findings in order to bring about changes in their coaching behaviour. But it then got me thinking...how should a coach should go about this process? Obviously we are all very busy and all actually doing our coaching, is it realistic to expect a coach to reflect and write their thoughts down after every session or every day?
The answer to this is probably not, however an expert or high level coach would be expected to record their key learning experiences over a period of time. This may well be done in the form of an article, journal, presentation, video diary, podcast, interview, question and answer session or practical session which highlights the ideas and elements learned and can be shared with other coaches and then critiqued and appraised. This process of having the piece analysed by others will refine the thoughts and make the ideas stronger. Too many coaches are reluctant to share their learning experiences with others as they feel that they will be giving away 'their secrets' or allowing others to gain an advantage in what can often be a commercially competitive market place......these coaches will never be able to fully develop their capabilities because the same thought process which limits them from sharing will be the one that linits them from receving the thoughts of others and therefore strnthening their own knowldge in the process.
Dr Paul Schemp of the University of Georgia in the US often states that one of the things that sets an expert coach apart from a less able coach is the desire to constantly learn and improve. The high level coach recognises that the best way to gain knowledge is to be willing to give knowledge and as such benefits from the exchange process. He or she should also be seeking to innovate and create new programmes and delivery methods, the only way that these methods and programmes can be effectively analysed and evaluated is for others in the same situation to provide their feedback. This turns a coaching theory or opinion into a coaching methodology....golf is full of opinions and theories....lets have more critically appraised and evaluated methodologies.
So where do you start? Try this as a starting point...most high level coaches are always reading things about the game they coach or looking to pick up tips. The next time you read an article or book or see something interesting on TV or at a seminar write a short 1 page review of the book/article/programme/seminar putting across your thoughts and what you took from it. This will demonstrate the knowledge you have gained and also highlight what your own thoughts on the subject are. If you can get into a habit of doing this once a month you will be well on your way.