Based on a completely unrelated meeting regarding one of my coaching environments, and a new introduction to a fellow coach, Ian Sherwin, I was briefly introduced to the MSc in Applied Sports Coaching. Having piqued my interest, I decided to question Ian on what the actual course comprised and almost immediately I realized this would be something I would be keen to try.
I was coaching in three different environments at the time. Using my experiences and events I had encountered, I tried to overcome different scenarios in each different area. I felt I was at a stage where some of the methods were becoming tired and I wasn’t really progressing on a personal level to develop or learn more about the actual art of coaching. I also was aware of research into coaching but had never really explored that research, instead relying on “best practitioners” to get tips and keep things fresh.
Going into the course thinking I was a complete novice, having no formal education, was soon put into perspective when the first few modules actually gave me some affirmation that much of what I was doing was in line with research and perhaps I wasn’t so far behind after all. On top of this, the course gave me some tools for continual improvement, especially in the reflective practice modules, that can be undertaken by both the coach, and the athletes to try and best improve both the individual and the collective.
Perhaps the biggest bonus for me was the fact that all the modules and research are applicable to what you are doing “Right Now” so you have the opportunity to go and implement any strategies or methods that you think are appropriate in your own practice immediately. Whilst coaching the successful Munster Women’s Interprovincial team at rugby, I was able to try and implement certain characteristics of what research says is a positive environment, and while not all of it was successful, the feedback from the playing group was very positive. This particular group managed to perform on four occasions, with people from all different playing backgrounds, to achieve something as a collective in a small period of time.
Coming in to the business end of the course and with a research paper to finish, things can be hard with workload and life but when it is something that you see the benefits of daily, and can apply the learning directly to your practice, then it is extremely worthwhile and a course that I can’t recommend highly enough.
Matt Brown is a former professional and semi-professional rugby player who has lived and played in England, South Africa, Australia, Italy, USA and in Ireland since 2007. Matt played representative rugby in England, Australia and USA and was a full time professional in Italy. Having coached in a variety of contexts, Matt is currently Head Coach for the Munster Senior Women’s Team and Old Crescent RFC.