FIT coaching pivots online

Sept. 23, 2021 @ 0:00 UTC

FIT's Coaching Commission has used the pandemic to take its training services online with an extra 75 accredited coaches now operating globally.

The FIT Coaching Commission (FCC), led by long-term Coaching Commission Chair Peter McNeven, has been hard at work over the last 12 months overseeing the delivery of virtual FIT coaching courses to coaches around the globe. 

But before exploring the commission’s achievements since the start of COVID, Peter proudly reveals that the FCC is a gender diverse team with four female and four male members. 

The commission’s members cover all the world’s major regions, with Labeeb Levy servicing the needs of coaches in Africa. At the same time, April Jiang and Anne Goh are responsible for Asia. Glenn Hayes is the FCC rep on the ground in Americas, with John Singh while Sue Salter looks after Oceania and Monica Wallace provides coaching assistance in Europe. Registrar Pat Carroll supports the team. Peter says, “Each FIT region is represented by an active FCC member or members living in their region, which ensures our commission can assist and address any specific cultural and other unique requirements of the NTOs in their region.” 

According to the FCC Chair, each commission member is responsible for FIT Coaching Courses in their region, and qualified presenters conduct all courses. “We work collaboratively with the NTOs to organise and deliver FIT coaching programs and activities specific to that nation.”

COVID hasn’t stopped the training with 75 coaches accredited 

Oceania FFC rep Sue Salter and FCC Coaching Course Lead, says, the eight-member commission has delivered eight sessions addressing the FIT Introductory Coaching Course in the past 12 months in conjunction with the FIT General Coaching Principles Course. Sue explains, “This coaching rollout included three courses in Asia, one in Europe and four in Oceania with a total of 75 coaches accredited.

“Currently, I am still mentoring one coach from Scotland. Due to the lockdowns, minimal actual Touch is being played globally, so there have been fewer enquiries for coaching mentoring. 

“However, as NTOs start to participate in tournaments again and in the lead up to the next FIT Youth World Cup, Pacific Games in 2023 and FIT World Cup, we expect to have more enquiries regarding coach mentors.”

Adapting courses to the coaching experience 

Sue confirms that the FCC is proficient in providing training for coaches with varying levels of experience. “Each course is designed and delivered to suit an individual country’s situation and specific requirements. This versatility includes consideration of the number of participants, access to the internet, and the most suitable time to deliver the course for the participants and presenter.”

To illustrate how the FCC maintained the coaching pipeline during COVID lockdowns, in Asia, the course held in Singapore used Google Classroom for the FIT General Coaching Principles section. The FCC then utilised a different online platform for the theory and practical sections of the FIT Introductory Coaching Course. Meanwhile, in Hong Kong, initially, two courses were delivered online. “However, now face to face courses can be conducted in Hong Kong,” Sue confirmed. 

In Europe, the coaching course was conducted over Zoom and in two parts as the participants were in various stages of lockdown. Sue clarifies, “Monica delivered the theory section on one evening to a large group, and then the practical assessment using video analysis was undertaken in smaller groups over a series of evenings, again under Monica’s supervision.” 

In Oceania, all the FIT General Coaching Principles and FIT Introductory Coaching Course courses were delivered through Zoom. For example, the courses were offered over two days for coaches living on the tiny Pacific Island nation of Kiribati. The theory session was conducted on the first day, and the practical component two days later.

In Samoa, coaches completed the entirety of both courses on the same day. “In Samoa, participants could come together for the practical section of the course, so the participants were able to demonstrate their skills and how to coach while I observed them through the Zoom link,” says Sue. 

The FCC is also currently working with Fiji, where the participants have completed the theory section of the FIT General Coaching Principles and FIT Introductory Coaching Course. When lockdowns lift, all the participants from Fiji will then complete the practical section.

Response to the online pivot

The response from new and existing coaches to online tuition has proven overwhelmingly positive. “By way of example, Fiji has especially embraced the opportunity to have their coaches accredited in anticipation for when competition resumes,” Sue enlightens. “It’s also beneficial that these coaching sessions are delivered at no cost to the NTO and participants.”

Despite the global bouquets for taking its tuition online, there were challenges for the FCC. “There were some challenges when virtual training first started,” Sue admits. “This included delivering appropriately designed and structured material and resources to suit delivery through a virtual platform.”

For example, to enable the practical component of its training courses to be completed, a series of skill drill videos were produced by the FCC and distributed to presenters for assessment through video analysis or to enable participants to observe and then replicate the drills. Other challenges included establishing access through licences for accredited presenters to allow for the delivery of virtual training.

Sue notes that virtual training also makes it difficult for presenters to interact fully with all participants and ensure they absorbed the coaching tips being presented. “It is also challenging for participants to build rapport with the presenter online and their fellow participants,” Sue adds. 

Virtual coaching is here to stay

Despite the challenges of taking its coaching virtual, the benefits to members of online coaching instruction were plentiful and included increased opportunities to access and participate in accredited training programs globally. Sue elaborates, “We were also able to provide expanded and more timely access to accredited presenters and offer a more cost-effective alternative compared to face to face training.”

Moreover, Sue Salter is adamant that online training will become a permanent feature on the FCC calendar. “Virtual courses will remain as part of the FIT coaching training toolkit, and, yes, online training will enable FIT to accredit more coaches more cost-effectively.

“Delivering face to face training, particularly for developing NTOs, who do not have access to qualified local presenters is costly as the NTO is responsible for any travel, accommodation, and associated costs on behalf of the presenter.” 

Sue continues, “Whilst virtual delivery cannot replace the benefits of having a physical presence on the ground, it does provide a platform for increased access in progressing coach development and accreditation globally.”

To support the FCC’s position on the benefits of virtual training, NTOs have indicated an enthusiasm for building on the basics covered in the online courses, complemented by conventional in-person training when international travel becomes available.

 Looking to the future

Adopting virtual training platforms provides increased exposure for Touch coaching and affords prospective coaches with a pathway, confirms Sue. “Also, the time required to deliver online courses now the resources are set, and the programs trialled for both participants and presenters is a lot more efficient and timelier.”

Sue adds, “Also, any NTOs who would like to translate the FIT Coaching Courses into their local language may do so, remembering though that English is the main language for any FIT materials.” It’s worth noting that FIT owns all copyright for content and material created by its commissions. 

The FCC’s Coaching Course Lead also maintains that the FCC’s overriding goal is to educate Coach Presenters to ensure that every NTO is self-sufficient. “Also available is the FIT Course Presenter Course for NTO representatives who wish to follow this pathway.”