There reflecting on your own knowledge, behaviours

are many ways in which coaches can reflect. The main question is what to
reflect on? Sports coaches are generally good at observing and analysing those
that they work with. Coaches can identify and sort any errors to improve
performance. Self-evaluation and the analysis of your own actions are the main functions
regarding reflective practice. Effective reflective practitioners should be able
to turn their own observational and analytical skills and then identify and
critiquing their own actions and behaviours. Achieving this as a coach can
potentially increase self-awareness which can developing additional information
ultimately leading to new methods.  Reflective
practice is not just about reflecting on your own knowledge, behaviours and
skills. The consideration of how and why coaches do things and how their
coaching values can improve the way they coach is vitally important. Reflective
practice can be a challenging and rewarding skill, the expectance of being good
reflective practitioner from the start is unrealistic and takes time. Knowles (2001)
produced evidence that suggested structured instructions over a period increases
coaches ‘reflective practice skills’ however no formal instructional programmes
will allows for coaches to develop their own reflective practice skills.  Gibbs 1988 was a learning researcher using a well-structured
debriefing scheme to aid with reflection involved in Kolb’s experimental learning
cycle. Gibbs went by a six-cycled reflective model. The six stages Included
description (what happened?), feelings (what were your reactions and
feelings?), evaluation (what was good or about the experience?), analysis (what
sense can you make of the situation?), Conclusions (what can be concluded about
your own way of working) and finally action plan (what will you do differently
for next time?). There are some problems that do occur with this theory. Motivation
and desire is a limit of what the 6-staged cycle can provide. This could mean that
they find it harder to gain an in-depth analysis of their own experiences.
Gibbs’s model may be more suitable and effective for those who already have
knowledge and experience with reflective practice. The timing of reflection is crucially
important. Most people would think that to reflect on experience, you must wait
until after completing it. Schon (1983) had the idea that reflection could be
taken both during and after an experience. This was known as reflection in
action and reflection on action. Both theories have advantages and
disadvantages. An advantage of reflection in action is that it can force decision
making that could influence the outcome of an experience which has an impact on
practice. Schon believed that this was a key factor by which professionals handle
and resolve their struggles and concerns about their own practice. In contrast a
disadvantage is that reflection in action gives the practitioner a limited time
to reflect on what they have done. This could potentially lead to errors or
misunderstanding of information. Reflection in action is more suited to those who
have reflective practitioner experience. Reflection on action does allow a longer
time of reflection with less stress for urgency of an outcome which offers a safer
environment for reflective practice. Although the outcomes are late, meaning an
event can’t be influenced, there is time for reflection on action to affect
future decisions as time has been given for you to process and gather
information. Thoughts and feelings associated with an experience allow for a
better judgement and evaluation of an occurrence. This then increases the potential
for improved performance. The disadvantage of this would be leaving too long a period
between an experience and the reflection time as your memory of that event
would be less accurate. Thoughts and feeling will decrease as time goes on too.
A mix of reflection in action and reflection on action isn’t necessarily the
best way to reflect. Knowles (2001) has suggested that a dual staged reflection
both immediate and delayed reflection may be the best and most effective
approach to adopt. If an immediate problem occurs, then it can be solved whereas
future learning can be obtained and developed after a time when an event as

Becoming a reflective coach: practical
issues for sports coaches to consider

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Chris Argyris and Donald Schön created
the idea of single-loop learning
and double-loop learning in
1978. Their theory had been built around the recognition and correction of a
fault or error. Single-loop learning relies on the current strategies created by
a practitioner or organisation even if they have used correction after already
making an error. A change in objectives, strategies or policies is known as double
loop learning. This is when a comparable situation happens, and a new system is

The aim of this paper is to consider the
different ideas and theories that involve reflective practice. This paper will
also describe and discuss the practical issues associated with becoming a
reflective sports coach. What should coaches reflect on? How might coaches
reflect? When is the most appropriate Time for reflection? 

Reflection is commonly known as ‘experimental
learning’. Experimental learning has been looked at in great depth and models produced
of the learning process by Argyris and Schön, 1978; Kolb, 1984; Boud, Keough
and Walker, 1985. All models involve a form of reflection on experience. A
contrast between ‘experimental learning and learning from experience (Usher and
Solomon, 1999, cited in moon, 2004) has been found. The creation of learning by
experience is when different challenges are completed daily. Experimental
learning will involve reflection and questions can be asked of yourself by saying
what has gone well and saying what could be improved. “it is only when the
learner actively engages in reflecting on the experience that the learning may
be recognised and applied” (Anderson, Boud and Cohen, 1995).