The changing nature of coaching to online formats

Next week, I wrap up my second time teaching a Coaching & Leadership course at the university level for a class of enthusiastic undergraduate students. I haven’t had much control over the syllabus or in-class learnings either time I’ve taught the course, and one of the key areas missing happens to be the only form of coaching I currently do – online coaching.

Since leaving the club soccer scene last year, the bulk of my coaching has been done online. I’ve worked with players in a variety of different life stages, athletes in a variety of different sports, and coaches from across the globe through this online format – offering the opportunity to work 1-on-1 in the comfort of the client’s own home and environment.

This is a completely different form of coaching that does not get enough love or attention in the modern world. There is so much potential for coaches to excel through the use of an online format, where they can work with athletes from across the globe and without any need for travel on either side. In fact, this is one of the biggest barriers to coaching at the youth level in club environments. You are often paid (below minimum wage) for the time that you are coaching, and not for the travel time included in that equation. That can sometimes include travelling two hours for an hour-long game, and then going back the other way for another two hours. You spend hours of your time driving out of your love for the game and the betterment of your players, often times without even having a child on the team.

See the problem? In setting up your own coaching business online, you can then work with players, coaches and anyone else looking to develop their craft in a more accessible format. What’s more? You are forced to go beyond the technical sides of the game that are often overhyped and overemphasized in training. You can discuss the psychological and tactical elements with individuals on a deeper level, in a confidential 1-on-1 environment.

Through online video call formats, you can now share video clips, images, presentations, reports, etc. in the moment while dissecting a player’s game or sharing insights to coaches. You can more easily assign “homework” and tasks for completion in between sessions. You can even connect them with others in your circle that are also going through the process online, allowing for all the more global collaboration.

When coaching runners, I’ve been able to connect with athletes on a variety of different apps to see and assign training, maintain accountability and motivation, and provide encouragement for their completion of workouts. We can schedule calls outside of training, taking the time to dive into the deeper minutiae surrounding the sport than we might cover if we were solely focused on achieving the training goals in the moment.

This is incredibly powerful, and something that I think all coaches could take advantage of more, even if just as a supplementary tool to what they accomplish on the field.

The obvious downside is in the way building a connection and rapport comes less natural over a video screen. It’s still a slightly unnatural thing for all of us to communicate with someone who’s not actually anywhere nearby. Feeling the energy of another person is simply much easier to achieve in person.

But this does not mean that it’s impossible to establish a connection with your coaching clients online. You just have to do the same things you would in person – establishing a connection beyond the sport, learning about them, challenging their beliefs in some moments while confirming their beliefs in other moments. You want to inspire them and help them reach their full potential through showing your own true and authentic self, spreading kindness, and trying to reach your own full potential.

More coaches could take advantage of the online formats available to them, even if still working in club environments. Many endurance coaches, mental skills specialists, therapists and counsellours are already coaching almost exclusively online. Other sports and realms will start to catch up. It’s only a matter of time before the online coaching boom begins to blossom, so you might as well start to practice your skills in this realm while it’s still relatively new.

If you are interested in learning more about my Consultation, please fill out the contact form below. Thanks for reading and see you soon!

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