Chris Roberts is a British Triathlon Level 3 Coach, and an award winning Mentor. Working alongside the Coach Development team he has supported the development and delivery of British Triathlons Coach Mentor Program. Chris talks about why mentoring can be such an effective tool for coaches, and how to get involved in the program.
What questions do you have?
As we become coaches we progress through the “license to learn” and continue to gather information and knowledge and particularly approaches to our coaching that maximise the performance of the athletes who we work with. Often we start to ask ourselves some questions like:
· How do I become a better coach?
· What knowledge am I missing?
· How do I apply the knowledge that I have more effectively?
· Where do I go next?
In our incredibly busy lives we have little time to reflect on or consider our own answers. If we did have time to reflect, we would most likely find out that we know many of the answers already by applying the experience and knowledge that we have gained over many years in business, as family members and while connected to sport.
If you could choose one tool to help you to uncover that knowledge, that would be a catalyst to the changes that you want to make, what would it be?
“Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.”
We can explore the history of mentoring back to Greek mythology, In Homer's Odyssey, Mentor was. a wise and faithful advisor entrusted to protect Odysseus's son, Telemachus, while. Odysseus sailed against Troy.
So how about a modern view based on extensive research into the business world? Julie Starr has recently published The Mentoring Manual and answers the question; what is a mentor? as follows;
“A mentor is someone who takes on the role of a trusted advisor, support, teacher and wise counsel to another person. Mentor adopts a primarily selfless role in supporting the learning, development and ultimate success of another person.”
The British Triathlon Mentoring programme that has developed significantly over the last 5 years means that that wise counsel and the role of the trusted advisor is available to all coaches. Our Mentors have attended a two day development programme and a series of continued personal development events. This development concentrates on the skills of mentoring, questioning, challenging, listening and supporting. The focus is quite simply to improve the coaching capability across the country, to improve athlete’s performance and develop talent for the good of our sport.
We have found that this process is incredibly rewarding for both the Mentee and the Mentor. No subject is out of bounds. So the conversations range across:
· developing as a coach
· developing as a head coach
· moving through the levels of coach development
· accessing increase knowledge and skill about specific disciplines
· tackling areas of developments around personal effectiveness and time management
· introducing a youth section into a club
· managing the tensions and dynamics of committees
A Level 3 Coach said recently "As a full-time coach… I recognize that I have a lot to learn. Having the support of an experienced mentor has been great. (This) has helped me further my understanding of myself as a coach and the coach-athlete relationship. Mentoring support has helped me to better understand my athletes, their needs and how I can best support them. Happy athletes are more successful athletes."
As Julie mentions in her book, mentoring does not happen in a vacuum, it happens as part of real life. If we consider the mentors that we had through our lives, we will identify both formal and informal mentoring relationships, within families and our friends and working environment. Some of these conversations will take place over a cup of coffee or even as you pass someone’s desk. By providing the Mentors with the skills development we have created a significant workforce to work with you on the above questions in a way that suits you.
Mentors also gain a great amount of learning and satisfaction from being a Mentor:
“I have found that being both mentored myself and mentoring others has had a profound effect on my coaching approach and philosophy. I have enjoyed the positive and challenging conversations that arise from both positions and the reflective process that follows. I have found a confidence in my decision making as a coach and a recognition of my values and how they enhance my coach athlete relationships” – Paula George
“I am not a teacher, but an awakener.”
So, what questions do you have?
It is simple to start up and be put in touch with 2 or 3 mentors, sharing your needs, which you describe in the application form on the Coaches Hub. You then have a chance to test the chemistry and find those people that you really want work with. By looking for someone who will provide an extra challenge, your experience and knowledge will be accelerated for the benefit of your athletes, you and the sport.
Enjoy the journey!
If you would like to request a British Triathlon Coach Mentor, or would like to find out more about the program click HERE