Ju­ve­nile coaches are the peo­ple the GAA just can­not sur­vive with­out

Bray People - - SPORT -

“IT is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stum­bles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them bet­ter.

“The credit be­longs to the man who is ac­tu­ally in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, be­cause there is no ef­fort with­out er­ror and short­com­ing; but who does ac­tu­ally strive to do the deeds; who knows great en­thu­si­asms, the great de­vo­tions; who spends him­self in a wor­thy cause; who at the best knows in the end the tri­umph of high achieve­ment, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while dar­ing greatly”

Theodore Roo­sevelt’s fa­mous lines are so pow­er­ful, bril­liant and rel­e­vant to mod­ern life even though they were writ­ten over 100 years ago

When we get in­volved in coach­ing, there is no cer­tainty and we can’t pre­dict out­comes. We will meet crit­ics ev­ery­where but as Roo­sevelt says, “it is not the critic who counts”.

As clubs are cur­rently or­gan­is­ing their underage struc­tures for the year ahead, they need peo­ple with faith that if they put in the time and have good meth­ods that things will work out well for them. GAA clubs must be in­no­va­tive to re­cruit coaches to cater for the higher play­ing num­bers that are now at­tend­ing.

Re­cruit­ment of coaches is a skill and it can be a very tough job. Many clubs are re­port­ing big progress in this area.

Some have dou­bled, tripled or even quadru­pled their underage coach­ing num­bers in the past three years.

Other clubs are strug­gling in this area and as a re­sult their ex­ist­ing coaches are at full stretch and in dan­ger of burn out.

The clubs who are thriv­ing in this area, nearly all have one thing in com­mon; there is a pos­i­tive mood around the place. Stan­dards are good, ex­pec­ta­tion is high but no­body is look­ing for per­fec­tion.

Per­fec­tion­ism is so de­struc­tive and it puts so many peo­ple off get­ting in­volved in coach­ing. Of­ten in elite sport, win­ning and los­ing are so im­por­tant that ev­ery mis­take is scru­ti­nised to the nth de­gree.

Coaches in pro­fes­sional sport are of­ten put up in a pedestal that it is im­pos­si­ble for the or­di­nary per­son to match.

As a re­sult of that cul­ture, peo­ple are put off when asked to coach in a lo­cal club. They think they aren’t good enough and that peo­ple will judge them.

Some­times they are right and peo­ple do judge. You of­ten hear peo­ple say­ing, “sure what would they know about hurl­ing and foot­ball,” or, “they never played in their life”.

The truth of the mat­ter is that there is no such thing as the per­fect coach, the per­fect hurler or the per­fect per­for­mance.

We all make mis­takes and be­com­ing a coach or a player is al­ways a process.

If coach­ing is a skill, then it is also a learned abil­ity.

That means that peo­ple gen­er­ally get bet­ter at coach­ing, the more time they spend at it. Peo­ple learn in lots of dif­fer­ent ways.

Ex­pe­ri­ence helps as does re­flect­ing on those ex­pe­ri­ences, at­tend­ing train­ing cour­ses, meet­ing other coaches, plan­ning train­ing ses­sions and ques­tion­ing play­ers on their ex­pe­ri­ences. Learn­ing usu­ally hap­pens as a re­sult of trial and er­ror. We try some­thing and it works, so we con­tinue that method or per­haps we dis­card it or amend it if it doesn’t work too well.

There are great coaches vol­un­teer­ing in ev­ery club. They are com­pe­tent and re­li­able. Many of them played while oth­ers never played hurl­ing or foot­ball.

Some have great knowl­edge of the games while oth­ers are re­ally good work­ing with peo­ple. Some great coaches have lots of con­fi­dence in their own abil­ity while oth­ers don’t be­lieve they are any good. They need lots of re­as­sur­ance..

How­ever where would we be with­out th­ese peo­ple? They spend two or three evenings a week at the pitch and at­tend blitzes ev­ery Satur­day.

Th­ese are the peo­ple who the GAA can­not sur­vive with­out. Th­ese peo­ple are bril­liant just as they are. We don’t need per­fect.

Fear and self-con­scious­ness causes us to shy away from get­ting in­volved. Ro­nan Keane has re­cently started coach­ing “as Gaeilge” in the Gaelscoileanna in Ennis and Shan­non.

I would love to do the same but some­thing has al­ways held me back – fear of be­ing wrong or sound­ing stupid. Self-con­scious­ness tends to put us off try­ing things that we might en­joy do­ing or be good at. We could not care about what any­one thinks, but for most peo­ple that’s al­most im­pos­si­ble.

The great Amer­i­can au­thor and re­searcher Brené Brown writes, “when we stop car­ing what peo­ple think, we lose the ca­pac­ity for con­nec­tion and when we are de­fined by what peo­ple think we lose the courage to be vul­ner­a­ble”.

Coaches need to con­nect with their play­ers (and par­ents) in or­der to achieve re­sults and when coaches and play­ers have a com­mon pur­pose they are also vul­ner­a­ble. Vul­ner­a­bil­ity is de­fined as un­cer­tainty and risk. Peo­ple who are de­fined by what peo­ple think can never get to that stage.

Crit­i­cism is very hard to take and neg­a­tive peo­ple can cause a whole pop­u­la­tion to be self-con­scious. Crit­ics don’t make good coaches. It is much eas­ier to vol­un­teer in a pos­i­tive en­vi­ron­ment.

Coaches are peo­ple who get the best out of other peo­ple, not peo­ple who tell you ev­ery­thing that’s wrong with you.

The chil­dren of Ire­land need peo­ple to put their hands up and say, “I’ll coach, I’m not per­fect but I’ll have a go, I’m will­ing to learn, I’ll make mis­takes and I might fail. But If I fail, I’ll fail by dar­ing greatly”.

As coaches we need to pro­tect our­selves from crit­i­cism and should choose whose opin­ions we take on board.

As Brené Brown says, “If you are not in the arena get­ting your ass kicked on a reg­u­lar ba­sis, I’m not open or in­ter­ested in your feed­back”.

That seems fair enough to me.

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