GUNN TIPS FOR COACHES #9 - 365 DAY PROJECT 2019/20 - Craig Can You Tell me WHY You Were at the Level II Coaching Course? I Just Found Out You 'Only' Coach U/11 Girls...

G’Day ‘learners’.

Today’s blog will help sports coaches (and all caring adult stakeholders) to:

Consider the idea of ‘teaching vs administrating’ to better inform the practice and future of your own and peers’ efforts with learners…

If you are reading this BLOG I guess that you are a ‘thinking teacher’. THUS, you may be reading the title of this piece and saying in the local vernacular, “Is this ‘fair dinkum’? Did somebody really allude to the U/11 gals’ coach not being worthy of a LEVEL II?” Yes indeed is my answer!!!

However, I am reminded that this is probably widely copied around the world. AND of course, those who are nowadays leading our coaching in our biggest sports are generally not ‘teachers’ BUT ‘administrators’ OR dare I say it, ‘certifiers’.

It was far worse too than this I can tell you on the course. In fact, I was asked to please stop asking questions and making alternative points… SO I did. I walked out with three sessions to go.

You see, it doesn’t matter that I have created and lectured through entire university subjects on coaching or PE it would seem. AND me pointing quietly in small groups that there are alternatives to the CONTENT presented via research rather than myth was also hard for the ‘BIG Dogs’ to take. However, in the end, ‘they don’t know what they don’t know’ OR are purposefully, professionally negligent… Who’s that bloke who wrote the ‘Davinci Code’?

In any case, I started looking for past ‘content’ I’ve given away, to fit in with my last post on sports’ organisations not always scaffolding ideas like ‘Coaching Philosophy’. Thus, I found an email to a friend from the sport titled: “Is this Gonna Get Me Banned for Life?” AND reading it, I’m not sure why again I was trying not to hurt the ‘Big Dogs’ feelings! Again they asked for an ‘outline’ of a ‘coaching philosophy’. Again, I’ve pushed grade 5 PE classes harder than the questioning ‘guiding’ my thoughts here. THUS, as always. I did my best to EDUCATE like below. I strongly suggest coaches investing in this COACH and STAKEHOLDER development program #ThinkTank2019 and I’m not just saying this because my thoughts on 'ENGAGEMENT feature! I promise…

This is my ‘outline’ that I felt I better justify (but not too much) to help the ‘certifiers’ among one of our best known sports… Begins Now:

Outline of your Personal Coaching Philosophy

I love any Long Term Athletic Development (LTAD) approach that espouses so many more holistic objectives than the ‘traditional pyramid’ approach or pure specialisation (Bailey et al., 2010). The ‘elite’ model found in Australian culture breeds poor competition and athletes with more injuries, lacking fundamental movement skills and players exiting from the sport far too early.  My philosophy is to put the individual athlete and their unique needs above all else.

As a holistic, athlete centred coach, in the past I been drawn greatly to Balyi’s LTAD model.  Its great strengths is the focus on building the engine first before the race through the many different stages: the incremental use of competition, and a true focus on the athlete learning basics and other important things like game play.  However, with experience I now feel that the Canadian inspired LTAD model is a little rigid and too linear let alone has a mainly physiological emphasis which leaves out much that affects performance (Gulbin et al., 2013).

Thus although I am an AFL coach for this assignment, my experience in philosophy finds a focus on sampling sports rather than specialisation on say AFL for our youth.  Yet to promote fun and excitement only in youth sport can not be the only objective (Gunn and Pill, 2016).  However, Gulbin and colleagues (2013) again would find the present AFL manual problematic: it is generic in regards to ages, is linear and also in our experience it does not consider the individual.  For example some kids want to be told what to do in a drill, whilst some like tactical games.

Thus I coach without a model/manual as with experience I am great at looking at the individual past an obedient military prospect.  Sadly (Kirk 1996) found that other PE teachers are unable to do much more than direct as per the acculturation of our military past that is so entrenched (Moy et al., 2009).  My coaching philosophy’s strength is the premier inclusion of psychological needs and a clear suggestion that skill acquisition is non-linear in nature.

Finally, to support my philosophy I favour the AIS FTEM model, as it: encourages sampling rather than early specialisation; groups athletes by standard rather than chronological age; allows greater movement between pathway; encourages gaining skills from fundamentals; and is more inclusive at all levels. 

However one must remember that any LTAD philosophy of coaching is a long term (10 year approach).  So what if we lose a few kids (parents) to other sports when they are learning the fundamentals?  Rather than weekend wins and losses I focus on retention and development.  Although my approach has proven challenging to important stakeholders, if you focus on true individuals, they will come back to athlete centred coaching than ego centric forms.

I explain a little more with one of my favourite educators below, COACH Reed in Podcast!

Thus ‘administrators’ perhaps I can get you to think more like a teacher when it comes to coach development. This is about learners and not numbers you see…


Who’s in front of you? What do they need? Why? What do their needs look like and feel like? Draw it all out in full colour. How do you know that they are engaged? Be specific. What bigger problems are you solving through this teaching? How will you know when you have improved? What is it that your learners ‘don’t know what they don’t know? When will you know, that they now ‘know what they don’t know’? How can you support them to ‘know’??? And on and on and on it goes…

As I say (and John Wooden did too), if you’ve put your hand up to coach… THANKS! But… Please accept that you are a TEACHER!

Yours in learning,


PS. Gunny and Dale Sidebottom ‘ENGAGEMENT’ tour of UK and Ireland coming September 2019!

PPS. Get around this amazing ‘Think Tank’ for coach DEVELOPMENT. I wonder is it better value than the Level II mentioned above? YES! Many, many, many times better…

PPPS. Contact me on all the usual platforms, anytime!