November 29, 2018
Recently my coaching delivery became truly inclusive as I worked with groups of non-disabled players for the first time for many years. For 18 years I had worked largely with disabled players with a strong focus on wheelchair tennis. Since leaving the ITF in 2016 I have coached players with learning disabilities, visually impaired players and players who are deaf and hard of hearing. Metro Mustafa invited me to assist him with sessions for non disabled players at the National Tennis Centre in London.
Being asked to coach non-disabled players made me reflect and I was a little apprehensive. It made me think how any coach feels when taken out of their comfort zone as this is what much of my work involves encouraging clubs and coaches to develop opportunities for disabled people. I think my feelings were probably similar to those of many coaches when asked about coaching disabled people. It is all about confidence. To build my confidence of working with non-disabled players I worked alongside Mustafa whose knowledge, passion and energy is infectious. I also attend courses andthe LTA Coaching Conference with a view to brushing up my knowledge of working with non-disabled players. My guess is that for the majority of coaches it would be the other way round. What we should all remember is that we are coaching people and are seeking to provide them the best possible experience.
Here are a few tips on how to make your coaching inclusive:
1. Attend a Continuing Professional Development (CPD) Course
2. Attend disability sports events
3. Watch para sport on TV/on line
4. Find a coach working with disabled people/athletes to act as a mentor
5. Get out there & get involved