The Coach’s Growth Cycle – Observations from BNT Coaches Roundtable

Posted on Aug 04 2020

Basketball Northern Territory recently held its High Performance Program Induction Camp in Darwin and incorporated a number of coach development activities, including a Coaches Roundtable. The key discussion point for the roundtable was the “Coach’s Growth Cycle” and here are some notes and observations from that discussion.

Joy – 

What drives or motivates the coach when they are first starting out in coaching? In the Roundtable, this was defined as the “Joy phase”. Be it at the end of a playing career or starting the coaching journey while still playing, some of the key words discussed in the roundtable were –

  • Fun
  • Love of the game
  • Empathy for young players
  • Sense of obligation to give back to the sport
  • Want to help club or association

In essence, when taking the first steps into coaching, the motivating forces are all positive and about others. It is a desire to help, to play a small part in growing the love of the game in young players. Often, it is seen as a way of staying involved in the game after playing. In essence, a key driver for most coaches starting out is Joy.

“Skill is the foundation of joy”

Evolve – 

The next phase discussed in the “Coach’s Growth Cycle” is the Evolving of the coach. We start to get more information, develop more “knowledge” and gain from experiences.

Some of the “thought words” the roundtable throw out in this stage included –

  • Serious
  • Competitive
  • Organised
  • Detailed
  • System of play

All of these things are for the most part positive, but as we “evolve”, there is less reference to joy and more focus on outcome driven areas of coaching. The “evolve phase” is a combination of growth and knowledge gaining, but do we stray to quickly away from the early motivations?

“Learning is not the product of teaching. Learning is the product of the activity of the learners,” John Holt

Stubborn –

At the “bottom” of the cycle is the Stubborn phase. This is where the coach now has more knowledge, has had more experiences, but is less open to growth and less connected to the players as people. This is a long way from the joy of the start of the cycle.

The coach has attended clinics, completed courses, observed other coaches and gone a journey of learning; but are they on a journey of discovery. This phase is when the coach’s mindset becomes somewhat fixed as they are less open to reassessing and more outcome focused.

While not all bad, a coach in this phase can be more focused on self than team, not through any sinister intention, simply through a level of information overload and passion to succeed.

The group discussed words such as fixed mindset, not self-aware and rigid as traits of a coach in this phase.

Reflect – 

The upswing and final phase of the cycle head back towards joy and is driven by reflection. Self-awareness is such a huge element for the modern coach and the ability to seek, welcome and provide feedback is key to a high achieving coach.

Some of the “thought words” from the roundtable in this phase included –

  • Vulnerable
  • Spirit of sharing
  • Relationships
  • Growth mindset
  • Humility
  • Less worried about external “noise”
  • Acceptance

You can see as the cycle heads back towards its “joyful” origins, there are some synergies in the theme of the words. The theme of the coach in the “reflect” phase is one of positivity, keyed on the “people” aspect of coaching, rather than the technical/tactical.

Discussions such as this roundtable and the opportunity to share ideas and reflect on conversations are valuable in the development of coaches of all levels. Thanks to Basketball NT High Performance Manager Rod Tremlett and some of the program coaches for sharing their thoughts on the “Coach’s Growth Cycle”.

As part of the weekend, there was also a clinic for coaches and below are the notes covering transition offence and man to man defence.

darwin clinic notes august 2020 trans and defence


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