Social Media as a Tool in Professional Learning Communities for Volunteer Sports Coaches - Part One

This (below) is one of my favourite photos of my sports coaching/teaching. It’s taken almost a decade ago. All three of us coaches plus the rest of our team did the job well . We sold belief to our men that sport transformed lives. I am under the big hat and I’m guessing that all three of us can’t fit those jeans anymore… The easiest BIG team coaching you can do is when you are a bunch of like-minded professionals, but critical peers, who align along the development first breeds success continuum.

Greenie (looking over to our mentor Marthy (just see her leg)), Canadian Kev and Gunny…

Greenie (looking over to our mentor Marthy (just see her leg)), Canadian Kev and Gunny…

Greenie was on Facebook before I knew him and is a real intelligent bloke (like the smartest teacher in any school). Kev was an engineer and Canadian so also pretty modern. Gunny was still giving out his home phone number out six years later… Thus, when the great Shane Pill and I collaborated on an intervention to support volunteer Australian football coaches (to read, join ‘Grassroots Coaching and Consulting” Facebook group and check ‘Files’ section for a copy) and pushed the final idea that social media: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube etc could help support coaching development, my former peers would have been laughing!!!

Cassie, Paul, Marthy, Kev, Greenie and Gunny - they could use technology well not me!  BUT we did OUR job…

Cassie, Paul, Marthy, Kev, Greenie and Gunny - they could use technology well not me! BUT we did OUR job…

In any case, to back up the written thoughts, about a year ago I decided to start up the Grassroots Coaching and Consulting group (Facebook) and we are gaining new members every day, from the PE teaching, professional and amateur coaching ranks, academia, sports governing body administrators, caring adults and health professional sectors. AND… It’s working!

Sure, we don’t get the chance of ‘real’ connection (oxytocin through touch) BUT, we have sharing members from all around the world and sports/teaching contexts involved. Not quite a sporting war dance but we all support or learn together trying to ‘rethink’ the power of transformational PE and SPORT.

Grassroots Coaching and Consulting Group is only a ‘virtual’ chant… BUT growing stronger!

Grassroots Coaching and Consulting Group is only a ‘virtual’ chant… BUT growing stronger!

To illustrate my point this is some sharing of thanks that was posted today from one of my former students, who is one of Queensland’s ‘New BREED’ or HEART focussed and successful development coaches:

Last week I found myself a bit stuck preparing for a single session with an U14 cricket team on a rainy day. My goal for the session was to get boys familiar with one another as they have a game together this weekend. I called Gunny (0431311070, or, www.craiggunn.org), and he recommended reaching out to the Grassroots community. https://www.facebook.com/groups/147501649318126/about/

What a response I got. So many amazing suggestions for activities from coaches around the globe.

Thank you Reed Maltbie for your discussion ideas regarding ideal vs non-ideal teammates and identification of important core values that we want to define our team's culture. This gave the boys a clear understanding of what they wanted the team dynamic to feel and look like, and how they could play a role in contributing and fostering that.

Thank you Dale Sidebottom for your icebreaker videos, featuring a plethora of paper scissors rock iterations which the boys LOVED. The Evolution Icebreaker was a favourite. If a cricketer can pretend to be a chicken in front of his playing group, they are definitely becoming more familiar with one another and growing as a group. I'll be borrowing your ideas for seasons to come!

We also managed a bit of time outside, with a quick game of Vortex Gridiron (thanks Michael Duff!). With the rain, we headed inside for Hallway Cricket. The boys enjoyed changing up the format, embracing the dreary weather and working on fundamentals within a different space and situation.

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Richard Shorter's suggestions were phenomenal too. I never thought to have boys play common games like Jenga with players / parents / coaches offering positive & negative feedback to model the different types of teammate or parent. What a learning experience for all involved, including parents! This will definitely be something I utilise in the future.

This group is an incredible resource, and I truly appreciate you taking your time to offer up suggestions to help me out. I have my fingers crossed that this group continues to grow!! The more we help each other, the better the next generation will become.

Me too thanks Hamish!!!

Thanks also, To Sharpy, Wilo and Rob Anderson!!! By the time your amazing help came through I reckon the session was under way…

Yours in learning,

Gunny

PS. September, 25, 2019, Kobe, Japan, RWC, ‘Grassroots Teaching and Learning’ conference!!! Day before England vs USA - TOPS!!!