GUNN TIPS FOR COACHES #13 - 365 DAY PROJECT 2019/20 - How do YOU Reflect?

G’Day ‘learners’.

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

Consider the idea of habitual reflection to better inform the practice and future of your own and peers’ efforts with learners…

💭 How do you reflect & what do you use? I’m looking at getting better at this as a person, coach & mentor. Please share/retweet 👊🏻👍
— Dave Lote, 2019

Thinking about a response to the above TWEET was how this present Blog was conceived. Of course my answer was this 365 days of committed blogging. I mean, the kind people who reappropriated John Wooden’s ‘Pyramid of Success’ for teachers a decade ago, showed how important “COACH” saw both ‘intra’ and ‘inter’ personal qualities. Thanks Wade Gilbert and friends.

The ‘Gunn Tip’… They are more important than subject matter knowledge!!! Not saying that technicals aren’t important. Just not the foundations…


Look too how the great coach has ‘connection before content’ as the bottom layer? What a great TEACHER! And, of course, I operate under the principle that “Kids learn teachers NOT subjects!” So I will express my bias VERY clearly now as always…. I am a relationships person!

In any case, Dave got the ideas coming to him in buckets which is the great strength of social media for learners. There were research models, reflective challenge cards, sections from books etc, AND, of course the all powerful but haunting “turn the camera on yourself” call.

Subsequently, I mentioned how this habit has forced me to dig much deeper and to me is like a gratitude diary. I know, it’s what I preach so I may as well lead and go harder… BUT more importantly, it’s allowed me the good fortune of revisiting old reflections to see where things have developed. The good and the not so…

The all ‘knowing’ and ‘seeing’ video of your coaching features below. If you are thinking I’m happy with how this session started then you’d be wrong. There was ‘argy bargey’ with a neighbouring coach over space just prior. Perhaps I was a little annoyed…

In any case, about 5 years ago I fell into the game of Australian Football run by the AFL. I am well documented in groups that I am involved in like “Grassroots Coaching and Consulting” Facebook group (not the page), in conference presentations and other formats that coach development in the sport seems to be an afterthought so I will not delve into it here. However, just so Dave Lote and peers plus any of my athletes know, here are some of my reflections from March 7, 2017 with a ‘talent’ squad and their coaches. I will intersperse with vision as always:

  • I know I’m supposed to be showing them ‘THE SHOW ‘ for them to implement as a team of coaches later but… but in reallity we are getting through the equivelant of six hours of second year PE teachers work at university level (taking out all of the included reflection time). 

  • There is a right answer to what they need but it depends on their objectives. I don’t think I’ve coached this well enough from ____________ (The Boss)

  • Positives for the kids: exposed them to what they refer to as ‘chaos’, got them stuffed in a short time like they have never had before = maximal movement

  • Also had them learn that it is OK not to do kick to kick. 

  • Positives for the coaches: ‘Bang for Buck’ showed as much as I could to get juices flowing - there were rapid changes going on and have it all on paper for them  

  • I was disappointed that the two coaches that I prepped to take a constraint-game were too scared to do it.  That was probably because of the GUNN SHOW but also because like always they are incapable without constant support by TOP Dogs watching

  • Insights on field: I saw behaviours that affected the learning of all so brought in changes.  EG. once we went to full AFL rules the' ‘talls and kickers’ dominated.  Gave them a few minutes with their size to show-off AND got rid of the ball and used the vortex again so that if it was dropped it was a hand-over = made them run again but still play tight when they were passing with vortex harder to mark from the Hail Mary - A few other times I did this but I was just balancing it out so that coaches' and players' objectives were met. 

  • Changes too quick? I did not get to know the coaches or players individually.  This is not good coaching in the long term!!!

  • Provided good resource on paper.  Need to ask if they noticed that I didn’t read it? BUT This could scare them = Need to reinforce sure I am experienced but I try new things every session because I watch and feel

  • Also, my questions were all about the tactics and space but I do not need it prepared. = REINFORCE unless they are a 10 year sports coach, they are wasting their time using questions. The questions are all there though for the coaches to use!!! Need to clarify!

  • There are literally millions of things I could improve with them. HOWEVER as the BOSS says, "we are five years ahead of where the game is going!" THUS be HAPPY!

  • Johan Cruyff says the top team and the grassroots should be trained the same way = learning first in pressure!!!  The AFL manual says to use Keepings Off for 12 year olds and over!!!  It is Tiggy???  CULTURE is SO SO HARD to work with…

  •  Probably need to get them in touch with coaches I have mentored? They have learnt the WAY already with my help.   

  • Need to show them how to MENTOR: Ask coaches what is one of your strengths and one thing (only) you want to improve on?  I guarantee when I get to watch the film there will be so, so many things that I got wrong.  However, if we don't have an observer or the film we overestimate what is happening (Cushion and friends).  Remind them that through the research that says the players’own assessment of the coach is far more accurate than the coach themselves (Gilbert, Cushion and others???).  Phew enough Crazy Gunny!!!

  • Enjoying the confidence the confidence some coaches are starting to gain.  Having said that coaches should get down and watch any coach and any sport and discuss ...they will get way better. 

  • Johan Cruyff - To play well, you need good players, but a good player almost always has the problem of a lack of efficiency. He always wants to do things prettier than strictly necessary. 

  • Think this says a little about what they are calling ‘ugly’ from me?  Reminds that our focus is on the development of holistic humans and every single one of them important.  If we ever win because we have a couple of stars (ie _________ last year) we have done the better players and the poorer ones a dis-service.

That was a long reflection dear coaches… But if nothing else, you can see that I’m in the very least using the military’s ‘After Action Review’ (AAR). What was planned? What happened? How do we improve? But in my own eclectic way…

The important thing is to just keep doing it. Teachers know we were all taught reflection at university. Those of us who want to keep getting better (in my case as a coach) do it just like Dave Lote inquired about above. And it’s OK to just brain dump/stream of consciouness style OR ‘let it rip’. Woked better for Virginia Woolf than James Joyce though in my opinion!!!

Think it worked well for Mick Jagger too!!! My point though peers: Just DO it! Reflection that is… In any way you can.

Yours in learning,