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Develop The Coach, Develop The Person

British Coaches working in the UK can be too busy. Those working abroad can be too lonely. Regardless of constraints, can finding and correctly using time for personal development, help benefit performance and career prospects as a coach?

Football coaches can have different roles in the industry, which in turn can heavily impact on how they develop as a coach. The Academy Coach may be planning sessions and then delivering all day long, exhausted just by the thought of battling through the traffic to get home. The Part Time Coach may be working irregular hours and locations, with no real consistency of routine. The Full Time Professional Coach may be severely deprived of sleep, long hours of managing people, analyzing and working towards them 3 points at the weekend. All Coaches may need to juggle family commitments, feeling like every minute of their day is already accounted for. Coaches working abroad and away from families, may be using any spare time in wrong areas; alcohol stress release, Netflix addiction or scrolling through other people’s lives on Facebook.

Everyone needs more time, everyone wants more time and more often than not, it’s only those who create more time that have tendencies to develop themselves more efficiently. Opportunities to create more time are all around us (I’ve just done the cooking whilst listening to a coaching podcast, two activities done as one) and in most cases, planning and preparation are key. Arnold Schwarzenegger is known for achieving what he wants, and has his own view on creating time;

“ Everyone has a problem with time, but, the day is twenty-four hours and we sleep for six. Now I know there are some people out there who say they need eight, but I say they just need to sleep a little faster. The bottom line is we have six hours of sleep, there are twenty-four hours available so now you have eighteen hours available to do; your work, your family, your hobbies and also to learn something new. I want to make sure that out of the twenty-four hours of the day, I don’t waste one single hour”.

Although completely different industries, the principles of managing and making time can remain the same. Judging by what big Arnie achieved and is achieving in his life, they don’t seem like a bad set of principles to have.

Once we have made that time, what can we do with it? And what is available to a coach outside of CPD offered by their employers or the football industry?

Learning of additional languages

A lack of additional languages is a common weapon of choice to use, during claims that British coaches are lazy or lack class. Is there truth in this? after all, a lesser knowledge of different languages doesn’t make you a lesser coach. Especially, at the higher end where translators are on offer if needed.

Why do you need foreign language skills if you’re working at home in the UK, no point? Coaches can get by without uttering a single foreign word, for sure. But as Steve Darby explained in our last article, for coaches working abroad it shows initiative, respect and cultural awareness. It shows you care about where you are and about the people you’re with. If you’re working in the UK and everyone speaks English, that’s great! How about that star player from Brazil who speaks English but doesn’t respond to your sessions or attempts to ‘win them over’? A few words in Portuguese could be the needed ice breaker to get them on your side and working for you (not with an audience but perhaps in a 1v1 chat). This shows class and could make a lasting memory in such a star player’s mind. The same can be said for a young Nigerian player who is missing home, where a few words in their native tongue could give them that little needed boost.

There are a few ways forward with learning a language. You can search for local classes or language exchange programs in your area and online, you can complete courses online (podcasts are now available so you can learn on the go) and also download apps. The tools are there for the job.

Study for a University Qualification

There’s an old argument that degrees and schooling can’t teach us how to lead, manage and deal with people. Practically speaking, this is true and the best practice is by gaining work experience – actually doing it! However, there are a few things that studying for further qualifications can give a coach;

  • Knowledge base which has been supported by research

  • Opportunities to specialise in other subjects to compliment football coaching

  • Opportunities to become an EXPERT in a given topic

  • Opening of different career progressions

  • Something to fall back on in case you do fall back

There is huge proof that you don’t need an educational background to be a successful coach, but as Arsene Wenger put it when asked about his Masters Degree in Economics, “You can never be too intelligent”. Life in general, there’s no point having an impressive studying CV of a professor, if you can’t communicate and express your knowledge and ideas to others. But what about the coaches who don’t make the top flight or who can’t find the Full Time opportunities they seek? Specialising in a different field may be the ingredient needed to push you into an Academy Manager Role, An Educator role at a top club, a Sports Scientist Role or even get you on track to be a top Football Psychologist.

If you’re a coach based in the UK, you can check for available courses on your local university's website. If ‘going back to school’ and sitting in a lecture room isn’t for you, most Universities now offer different online courses, making it easier for people to juggle study with other commitments. If you’re currently abroad, there are some distance learning options available, such as a Master’s Degree in Performance Coaching that Jack Brazil is doing whilst coaching away in the Cayman Islands.

If you didn’t do so good at school, it’s still possible to gain entry onto further education courses with work and life experience - each individual is based on their own experiences and circumstances. Another compatible and transferable subject is ‘Education’. Whilst teaching and coaching have their differences, mixing the best components from both can create a well-rounded formula. Education subject degrees are available without needing to do a PGCE (post graduate certificate in education) and getting teacher ‘certified status’. For those living abroad, The PGCEi course is an international theory based (post graduate certificate in education), and includes modules that count towards a Masters in Education (if one wishes to continue down that route). Have a play with google, and you’ll be surprised what you can find to support your existing skill and knowledge base.


In short, exercise stimulates both mind and body. It helps us to; feel positive, battle mental disorders, improve our brain power, push stress away and retain focus (with many more to add). To better yourself as a person and as a coach, you need to be in a good place, and willing to open up the door of possibilities and to focus on the rewards. Put aside one hour from your twenty-four in the day. Look good, feel good, think good, be better!

Unfortunately, not all coaches are in a position to take a yearlong sabbatical, some down time to get a degree, learn a language or two and get in shape. If you can, then do it. If not, do everything you can to get as close to that level as possible. By trying to improve yourself as a coach, the worst that can happen would be improving yourself as a person.

As a member of BFCN, you will always have someone on hand to offer you advice and guidance. If you need any help with any of the above topics, get in touch!

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