Photo (above): GB women at National Paralympic Day 2013 at the Copper Box Arena, London. Showing Shiv (#5) & Louise (#13) representing Great Britain after a friendly match against Spain.
As mentioned in my last blog, I am going to switch things up a little and where better to start than with a new look to my website. Let me know what you think in the comments.
I’ve also decided that rather than just writing about me, I will write about…well anything I find interesting or think others will find interesting so here goes.
In the last couple of years I’ve had much more of a focus on coaching rather than playing wheelchair basketball which has seen me earn my grade 2 and I’m currently working towards my grade 3. Many people have asked me why I decided to do my grade 3, since it involves a hell of a lot of work, and my answer is simple, I love a challenge. By committing to do my grade 3 and through the work involved in achieving the qualification, I’m improving myself as a coach via constantly reflecting on what I want to achieve and whether I’ve been successful.
I guess the easiest way to measure success in coaching is whether you’ve won or lost a match but there is so much more to it than that, which is something I’m learning every time I coach. You can win a match and have performed badly. It is also possible lose a match but perform well.
So how can you measure your success as a coach? Well I have had a couple of experiences where I feel I’ve been successful which I’d like to share. I could probably share twice as many situations where I’ve been unsuccessful, which can be as valuable for learning but today I’m going to concentrate on the positive experiences.
There are always players that you spend more time working with for many different reasons, an example being that as part of the grade 3 qualification you have to work with an individual, coach them and help them to define & hopefully achieve their goals. My willing victim was Siobhan (Shiv) Fitzpatrick, who (for those that don’t know) is an aspiring GB athlete who I’ve had the pleasure of not only coaching but playing and training alongside. Shiv has cerebral palsy, which is a disability which is not common in the international wheelchair basketball world mainly because of the restrictions it causes, however it is not unheard of players with this disability to play at the highest level. Shiv is a hard worker and her coachability and attitude is second to non and I knew it wouldn’t be long before she would get her senior women call up. When she messaged to tell me of her excitement of being selected for the 2017 European Championships, I was over the moon for her. The bit that made me realise that I’ve made a difference to her journey… the pride she had wearing my GB number 13 vest for the tournament.
Recently I had another moment which made me think about my coaching and what as a player I responded best to in a coach. As a player, I found that I played best for coaches who made me want to win for them and coaches that I wanted to make proud of me. At half time of a match I was coaching, a player told me that they though they were letting me down which I immediately dismissed (because it wasn’t true) but got me thinking. I suddenly realised that my coaching style is reflecting the way I like to be coached as a player and it made me happy to think I might be having a similar positive impact on this player that my coaches have had on me over the years.
So in answer to my original question ‘how can you measure success as a coach?’, my answer is that small moments, conversations and individual performances are what I use to measure my success, along side match results. But it is also important to always ask ‘what could I do better?’.
I’m now facing my biggest challenge to date of coaching the London Titans Premier division team. This is a level I’ve not coached at previously and although I have an incredibly talented group of players, this does not in itself guarantee success. It is making me work harder as a coach and question myself more often, especially during matches but like I said, I love a challenge!