The Covid Pandemic in 2020 left many coaches at a loss without coaching but it also gave some coaches the ideal opportunity to upskill and develop their skills.
Tyrone GAA Coaching and Games in partnership with Dublin GAA Coaching & Games, designed and delivered a curriculum focused on reflective coaching and the application of reflective practice to their teams and players. The aim of this programme was focused on a selected learning community of coaches supported by tutors using online technology.
The focus of this programme was on the skills and knowledge required for one-to-one coaching with players enabling them to address performance issues. Very often the challenge for GAA coaches is to promote self-learning in their players and so this programme utilised a variety of activities and self-assessment questionnaires which were designed to promote reflective practice both in the coaches themselves and their players.
Tyrone and Dublin Coaching and Games delivered the Coach Academy Programme over two semesters starting in May 2020 and continuing through to August 2020. The cohort of coaches identified to take part were chosen from the lead coaches in the County Talent Academy Squads for both Football & Hurling. Overall, 22 coaches from Tyrone and 26 coaches from Dublin took part in this initiative with the various modules delivered as online live and recorded webinars.
Renowned speakers from various disciplines including Pat Gilroy, Val Andrews, Peter Canavan, Terry McCann, Bryan Cullen and Eoin McNicholl delivered 11 Webinars that were tailored to the specific needs of the coaches, including topics such as ‘Decision Making’, ‘Empowering Players’, and ‘Systems of Play’.
In order to personalise the learning and provide further structure, the programme allocated a mentor to groups of four coaches so that communities of practice evolved, and real learning was ingrained. Coaches were able to bring their coaching related issues to this forum and everyone contributed to potential solutions.
On the completion and submission of the required Learning Journals for the two semesters the coaches received a certificate for completing the course.
The Coach Academy Programme proved a real success and the coaches involved had nothing but high praise for the content and how the programme was laid out.
Particular credit must be given to Ger O’Connor, Stephen O’Shaughnessy, Brendan Harpur, Roger Keenan, Benny Hurl, Damian Harvey and Brian Laverty for their roles in the development and delivery of this programme and for their continued development of coaching education in both Tyrone and Dublin.