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Reflection and Self-Evaluation

Published Mon 21 Nov 2022

"Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom." - Aristotle. 

We all want to be the best coaches we can, and in turn, create the best environments and opportunities for the development of the sailors we coach.  

Sailing coaches need a sound understanding of technical and tactical knowledge, safety, and risk management, be excellent powerboat drivers, communicators, mentors, teachers, planners, and role models. In addition to just knowing how to make a boat or board go fast, coaches are increasingly required to understand and use more complex knowledge and skills as part of their coaching practices, so to improve our coaching, and develop holistically the sailors we coach, we need to continuously learn ourselves.  

Whilst coaches may spend a considerable amount of time on the water and around boats or boards, building up years of accumulative experience and hands on practice, practice alone won’t make us perfect; progress and learning takes place, when we make time for thinking as well as doing. 

To become better coaches and to grow, it is important that we seek to incorporate regular reflection and self-evaluation into our coaching practice, as progress and improvements in our coaching is made by learning from what went well, or from what could be improved in each session we deliver, and building upon our knowledge, skills, and experiences over time. 

Learning to reflect and self-evaluate, on our own coaching performance, is like any skill, it's difficult initially, and it will feel like an effort to complete, however, over time, our reflection skills will improve, and the process will feel easier, helping us to become, better coaches. 

Successful reflection involves creating a daily habit, process, or routine. To do it well, time and opportunity need to be dedicated to making it happen. By reflecting on your coaching performances, self-evaluation will help you to: 

  • Grow and develop as a coach 

  • Learn from the past 

  • Not repeat mistakes 

  • Build up a coach ‘’playbook’’ of what works well 

  • Find ways to tweak and tune the delivery of your sessions 

  • Better understand yourself 

  • Consistently improve 

Any form of self-evaluation is better than none, but to be effective, reflection should be more than just a few random thoughts in your head after a coaching session. Ideally you should go further than this and create a record of your thoughts that you can return to later to assess how your performance is increasing over time. 

The best method for self-evaluation and reflection is one that you will use and is easy to implement and time efficient. There are many different methods which can be used to reflect on the sessions you have delivered, below are some simple suggestions and links to resources to help you. 

Use a notes app on your phone: 

The simplest method to record your reflections from each session is by using the built-in notes feature on your phone, you can even use this function to create voice recordings in each note, allowing you to capture immediate feedback while you are on your way home after a session. 

Use a simple session review form: download form here 

You can place this simple template directly under your session plan, allowing you to capture both what was planned for delivery as well as your evaluation of how the session went afterwards. The benefit of this type of self-review is that it provides direction but is not too rigid or limiting. 

Use a detailed session review form: download form here 

Although this form is more detailed in nature, it is very quick and easy to fill out after each session, its useful if you have some areas of focus you would like to improve on, as it allows you to monitor your performance overtime against each focus area and provides for good improvement tracking. 

With the sailing season now upon us in most of the country, and the amount of time you spend coaching increasing, recorded self-evaluation should become a habit, so why not challenge yourself to begin reflecting upon your coaching performance this season, and begin to grow, learn, and develop, and continuously improve your coaching skills, in turn, enhancing the experience for the sailor’s you coach.  

The method you choose to record your reflection, should be easy to implement, time efficient and work for you, so that you are able to make productive use of your thoughts and experiences to help you become a better coach. 

For more resources to assist you with your coaching please check out the Club Participation hub here or contact your local Club Support Officer.