Sports and fitness coaching is dead.
Ok, you might actually coach a sport or some strand of fitness, but that’s not really what’s happening.
The activity you coach is simply a tool.
What you’re actually doing is helping people.
And when it comes to helping people, there’s a whole lot more to consider than just the actions that they’re performing.
Human beings are complex things, and if we are to truly help them, we need to look way beyond our chosen field of sport or fitness.
UK Coaching is on an awesome mission to “unlock the secrets of #greatcoaching” saying that “there are more strands to great coaching than an ability to dispense technical and tactical advice” – and I couldn’t agree more.
They go on to say that:
“As important as these time-honoured elements are in assisting people on their journey to reaching their full potential, great emphasis must also be given to the physical, psychological, emotional and social needs of the people you coach. This requires a demonstrable range of coaching skills, behaviours and strategies that help to foster positive environments and build positive relationships with your participants. Only then can a coach hope to fulfil the wants, needs and dreams of the people they coach”
They call this our Duty to Care…I call it the “Whole Human Method”
After all, when we’re down in the weeds of technical demands of our sport or fitness niche, sometimes we can focus a little too strongly on the sport – which means that we try to fit the humans in our care to the sport instead of fitting the sport to our humans.
And when we try to fit our humans to the sport, inevitably, something doesn’t quite fit right and before too long, something breaks.
But UK Coaching are very clear…they say that “you have a responsibility to provide high quality support to the people you engage with, to ensure their safety and well-being”
Did you know that?
But how can you provide “high quality support” when you’re not given the skills to help prevent injury?
Picture this for a minute…
You’re a few minutes away from starting your session with “Kelly” and just before you get going, you ask the mandatory question…”do you have any injuries, niggles or pains I should know about?” (or words to that effect).
Then the response comes…”Actually I’ve got a bit of an ache in my left shoulder – it’s nothing huge but lifting my arm up to the side makes it worse”.
Let’s just freeze this for a second.
While it’s great that you’ve got the feedback from your client, and you ticked the health and safety box of asking the mandatory question – what do you do now?
Is simply avoiding the issue by adapting or exchanging exercises (so you don’t irritate the pain) actually providing “high quality support”? Even if you back it up with recommending that they see a professional about it afterwards?
Safeguarding is one of UK Coaching’s 5 Pillars of Duty to Care, which they say means “learning how to deal with any issues sensitively, appropriately and effectively, should the need ever arise.” But just how sensitive is it when you have to ask “Kelly” to do a completely different exercise to the rest of the group? And how effective is it really to just skirt around the issue?
Safeguarding doesn’t just mean you protecting your clients either – it means keeping yourself safe from harm too, and that means making sure that ALL your advice is within your remit as a coach.
And although it might be tempting to offer little tips that you’ve picked up over the years that try to help “Kelly” deal with her shoulder issue, the guidelines are very clear – injuries are NOT your responsibility.
So what can you do?
As it stands right now, you have two choices. You can either keep skirting round the issue (which means not being very helpful at all), or you can try to offer advice (which puts both yourself and your client at risk).
Nether of these are great choices.
But what if you could help “Kelly” to improve her non-painful movement, and her pain happened to go away as a useful side-effect?
Wouldn’t THAT be great?
Well, the good news is that now you can – and you don’t even need any injury knowledge to do it! Here’s how…