Designing and Supporting Coaches’ Learning Experiences


Yesterday, I received an email from a friend who is a Coach Development Manager for a national governing body in the United Kingdom. The email was sent to other friends in similar roles.

The email was:

I am in the process of selecting an online coaching resource and I am currently in conversations with ******. We are unable to design and develop our own personal hub due to cost. Within your sport I recall you having some type of online coaching hub. I guess my question centres around, does it get used by the coaches? Have you been able to track the usage of the resource? 

Designing and Supporting

My friend’s email started me off thinking about designing and supporting learning experiences … and the role digital stewardship might play in the work of Coach Developers or similar roles with different titles.

By the time I managed to reply in Australian time, my friend had received three replies from his UK network in the email group. Two replies discussed the merits of proprietary platforms provided as a fee for service. A third mentioned the interest coaches had in a crowd sourcing platform, Edufii. He had facilitated the group that now had 1000 members participating in a free version of Edufii. Each day, coaches in the group shared links, practices and experiences.

In the original email, my friend wrote “We are unable to design and develop our own personal hub due to cost“. This set me off thinking about the Coach Developer as a steward of a self-organising learning community that could address personal learning journeys … and develop a resource that was integrated into each coach’s personal learning environment.

As I was contemplating this I received a timely reminder that design-thinking might help us transform the role of Coach Developer to one of Learning Experience design. The reminder came in the form of a post from the Precious Design Studio, Designing with Meaningful Data

The post includes this paragraph:

To become better designers, we need to leave our comfort zone, dive into worlds that might look daunting from the outside. When thinking about designing with real, meaningful data, we shouldn’t look for convenience. We should always strive for challenges and use our curiosity to comprehend the growing complexity that surrounds us.

I wondered if a community of Coach Developers and Educators might share their experiences so that we might “dive into worlds that might look daunting from the outside”. And in diving, become advocates withing our organisations for a dynamic learning environment.

My reply to my friend’s email pursued this part of the opportunity facing him … and us as a community of practice. I looked at free resources to support a “personal hub”.

My Reply

You wrote “I am in the process of selecting an online coaching resource…”

It sent me off on a day of thinking and reflecting on the answers you had received.

My immediate thoughts were about commercial platforms and free platforms. I have been seeking free options for a long time. This approach requires you or the community of coaches to be caretakers (digital stewards) and raises for me the role coach educators play in a digital environment.

The Edufii Magic Academy is a fascinating example of how a self-organising group of coaches can start to share openly. Each coach becomes a harvester and the 1000 coaches in the group benefit from crowd sourcing. With a list this big you have to manage the email alerts you receive. The participants in the list become curators and aggregators of resources.

I have been involved in some Basecamp lists too. Like Edufii, I think its functionality is intuitive. I have used it as a free service as a teacher and a learner. In one of the lists, I have tried to be a driver (as in the Edufii example). I reply to anyone who responds to my sharing and have found this opens up some great 1:1 conversations.

Other options I have explored include the aggregator Scoop It. I use the free version to aggregate items about high performance sport. You customise your search terms and I have set mine up to post to Twitter too.

I think blog pots are helpful and if they have responsive design they become particularly readable on mobile phones. Clyde Street is my scrapbook of ideas on teaching, learning and performing (this posts an alert to Twitter too).

I have been researching podcast options too and have found Audacity helpful in the past. More recently, I have looked at some of the functionality Anchor offers. I am thinking that a coach educator podcast in English traffic conditions will be particular helpful. Imagine if the members of this email group provided a short podcast every couple of months about what is going on in their world … what an incredible resource we would have.

I use some of the Google tools too … for wikis, reading lists and presentations. They are saved in The Cloud. I have collected them in a free Github account.

As I am writing this I am thinking that we could share all our resources!

For the last few days I have been experimenting with MailChimp to see how learners might pull resources. MailChimp gives an automated email option that triggers an email when the reader is ready. I think this is going to be particularly powerful for microcontent of all kinds. I am designing a pre-workshop example of MailChimp for an unmeeting workshop (#Abbotsthon17) in Dublin on 5 October. (If you would like to find out more about autoresponders I have this post to share.)

I do apologise for a long email. I have focused on free options.

I do see the role of coach educators changing in digital habitats. For me the trade off between off-the-shelf software as a service and an agnostic open educational resource approach is the role each of us will play as connectors with coaches’ personal learning journeys. It will change the way the work and connect.

There is so much collective wisdom in this group that we could create a remarkable knowledge exchange to share with our communities.

Best wishes from Braidwood

Asynchronous Communities

I have spent much of the last decade thinking about how we create open learning environments. I understand that some organisations have funds to pay for fee-for-service platforms. Others do not. My post addresses this  latter group.

However, I find it immensely exciting that a whole community of coaches could access resources when the time is right for them. I see enormous opportunities for organisations to invest in and become organisations that learn.

The Coach Developer as Digital Steward can use asynchronous resources to connect groups and stimulate 1:1 conversations. Increasing use of artificial intelligence systems will mean we can make these relationships even more personal.

How will we adapt Coach Developer roles that are future looking in a digital world? I do think it starts with our comfort zones and our willingness “to leave our comfort zone, dive into worlds that might look daunting from the outside”.

Photo Credits

Autumn view of the playground (Peter Gyöngy, CC BY-ND 2.0)

Earthmovers (Dean Donaldson, CC BY 2.0)

Discus (Kwan Cheung, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)


I have used three Creative Commons images to illustrate this post. Each is a tilt shift image. I think this is a good way to talk about a change in focus and the scale of the worlds we inhabit.

Developing resources for #abbotsthon17

The banner for the Knowledge Exchange Conference to be held in Dubli, October 2017

I was in Dublin last week and had the opportunity to meet Alan Swanton, Performance Analyst Lead, and Daragh Sheridan, Head of Capability and Expertise, at Sport Ireland Institute.

Alan has made a brave decision to invite me to participate in the HPX 2017 Knowledge Exchange Conference in Dublin in October. I am delighted that Daragh supported Alan’s decision.

My participation has two parts. The first is a one day hackathon (#abbotsthon17) with performance analysts on 5 October the day before the start of the conference. The second is a presentation on the first morning of the conference. It is titled Performance Analysis and Data Analytics – Are we there yet?  (There is a draft of the presentation on Google Slides.)

This blog post is a place holder for resources I am developing for the workshop and conference. It is connected also to a MailChimp autoresponder idea for the workshop.

By coincidence, shortly after my meeting with Alan and Daragh I saw Oisin Kelly’s sculpture, the Chariot of Life. The website notes:

Kelly’s large copper-bronze sculpture depicts the figure of a charioteer said to represents reason controlling the emotions.

This seems a great starting point for a conversation about performance analysis.

A photograph of Oisin Kelly's sculpture 'The Chariot of Life', Dublin.

Photo Credit

Chariot of Life (Keith Lyons, CC BY 4.0)

Jamie Coles Guest Post 2: What makes the perfect sport performance analyst? – Questionnaire

What makes the perfect sport performance analyst? – Questionnaire Blog

#PerformanceAnalystLearning #EducationToConsultation   #RelevanceToIntelligence

Calling all practitioners


In my first guest post, I introduced my three blog part series titled “What makes the perfect analyst?”, which explored the personification horizon of practitioner learning and the lifelong learning journey to be a successful practitioner. As an association, this secondary blog is an introduction to my research project exploring the qualities, behaviours and characteristics that are associated with effective practice.

The current state of the research project has gained momentum through interviews being conducted by practitioners and academics in both performance analysis and sport analytics, which has laid the foundations for the construction of the questionnaire. Hoping to acquire a richer reflection of practitioner perspectives on what core themes influence effective practice. Also, the questionnaire has been devised and aimed at a global audience to obtain a worldwide perspective and global opinion on what is effective practice.

The motivation of the research is to gain an understanding of the characteristics, qualities and behaviours that are associated with effective practice. Allowing, the discovery of technical and non-technical qualities associated with effective professional practice, and as such, will allow the examination of the temporal and contextual aspects (i.e. demands, barriers, and support mechanisms) that facilitate or hinder career maturation. As a result, potentially offering a practice based evidence that aids practitioners understanding the process and factors that influence effective consultancy. Also, developing practitioner’s awareness of tools, characteristics and behaviours to ensure a successful career within the field. In order, to give some contextual information about the state of literature. I have complied a short research overview below.

Research Overview

Robins (2014) comprehensively highlighted that the PA field has a paucity of literature surrounding employment – behaviour focused research and limited contextual intelligence information that practitioners can translate into practice. In answering, the call to provide applied theoretical support to the field of practitioners, PA needs to broaden its horizon and provide empirical imperial evidence based towards career assistance. In doing so, exploring aspects that develop evidence – based guidelines for optimum practice (Martindale, 2007) and evidence surrounding the process and factors that influence the effectiveness of consultancy (Wright et al., 2014) are paramount for the domain of applied performance analysis (Lames, 2014). As performance analysis is a profession that offers and requires an exciting journey of lifelong learning (Lyons, 2016). Thus, exploring and evaluating applied effective characteristics of practitioners can provide, an evidence base to guide optimum practice in being an effective practitioner. Additionally, exploring the “life – span” and career development pathway of a practitioners, which understands the temporal and contextual aspects (i.e. demands, coping resources, support mechanisms) that facilitates or hinders “career maturation”.

As a result, I hope to publish a third blog that will contain the findings of the research. Importantly, I hope the results of the findings will potentially implement a theoretical approach to practice effectiveness, which will hopefully include mapping of effective practice and a possible communication model with coaches.

Once again thanks for reading… if you are willing to participate in the study please follow the short summary below.

The Survey

I have generated a questionnaire with MonkeySurvey (link).

There are 17 Likert scale questions, which will take 10 minutes to complete. Participants will be able to access and complete questionnaire at their convenience. I have a deadline of 8 September 2017 to complete the questionnaire to allow sufficient time to extract, interpret and complete by my dissertation deadline.

Thank you for taking time out to read this blog. If you are willing to participate within the study and would like more information about the research or need assistance with the completion of the study please do not hesitate to contact me at this email address.or through Twitter (@JamieColes1993)

Until next time… I look forward to exploring the results and publishing the findings.


Lames, M. (2014). Comprehensive Performance Analysis. In G. Sporis, Z. Milanovic, M. Hughes and D. Skergo (eds.), Book of Abstracts World Congress of Performance Analysis of Sport X (pp. 21 – 25). Opatija, Croatia, Sept 3 – 6.

Lyons, K. (2016). Entangled Narratives: Sport Performance Analysis and Sport Performance Analytics. Accessed on 27/01/17. Available Online at:

Robins, M. (2014). Applied Performance Analysis: Insights from Professional Football. In G. Sporis, Z. Milanovic, M. Hughes and D. Skergo (eds.), Book of Abstracts World Congress of Performance Analysis of Sport X (pp. 125). Opatija, Croatia, Sept 3 – 6.

Wright, C., Carling, C. and Collins, D.(2014). The Wider Context of Performance Analysis and its Application in the Football Coaching Process. International Journal of Performance Analysis in Sport, 14, 709 – 733.