Becoming a great coach through lifelong learning

Becoming a great coach through lifelong learning

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The Coaching and Education team is privileged to come into contact with many wonderful coaches, from those working with Olympic Podium Programme athletes to volunteers delivering sessions in community clubs.

We are using Coaching News to celebrate the great job you are doing at every level of the sport through profiling our national team of coaches.

We also want to help you be the best coach you can be. The starting point is to provide qualifications to ensure you meet a minimum standard of safe and effective coaching, but as you well know, British Cycling strives to push beyond the minimum standards. We believe in developing excellence throughout the sport and actively promote a culture of lifelong learning and continuous professional development (CPD).

The British Cycling Coaching Survey told us that 85% of you wished to engage in CPD to improve your coaching and we are now in the process of identifying the type of supported learning opportunities we can offer. To do so requires that we work in partnership and have open communication with you, so we are therefore very grateful to those who responded to our recent surveys. The responses have given us valuable insight into what you need to develop your coaching further and provided some great suggestions as to how we can support you in the future.

We also uncovered a range of perceptions around what it takes to be a great coach. Many people believe that new and more advanced knowledge in areas such as high performance and sport science is very important. However, when considering our own development, we should always ask the question ’how does this knowledge relate to my coaching and have I the skills and appropriate environment to apply it?’

Rather than gaining such high level knowledge, the ability to engage with riders’ hearts and minds provides the foundations for great coaching. Being able to engage riders requires coaching craft and the ability to communicate the right messages at the right time. It also involves demonstrating that we are interested in and care about those who we coach.

Spending time observing cycling is important in helping us to understand the difference between good and poor technique as this will help us deliver appropriate coaching points and feedback. A good knowledge of the sport is also very important as it provides riders with confidence that we know what we are talking about. Knowledge must, however, be context specific. For example, if we are coaching in a Go-Ride club, we may wish to focus on developing skills and knowledge in the area of youth development rather than on the physiology of Pro Tour riders.

As a follow-up to the wider Coaching Survey, we recently circulated a Coach Development Survey to hear about your goals, aspirations, strengths, weaknesses, what you enjoy and topics you have no interest in. We understand that time is at a premium for coaches so completing surveys isn’t always at the top of the priority list, however we have been disappointed at the response rate. Like any coaching activity, we can only guess what is required without quality feedback.

Therefore, we would still like to hear your suggestions on how we can improve our Coach Development offer. Please feel free to tweet us on @BCcoaches using #coachdevelopment, email us at or complete the survey.

Remember, the Coaching and Education team is here to support you and we can only continue to evolve with your feedback, input and support.