Federation Coaching Officers
So you've volunteered/agreed/been appointed as Coaching Officer for your Federation? Well done. Croquet depends on volunteer effort to keep the sport alive and you are well placed to help people in a whole region of the country!
Where You Fit In
The national structure for croquet coaching is formulated by the Croquet Association (CA), with agreed course syllabuses, grades of accredited coaches and so on. You can read about these in the CA Coaching Manual, on the CA Website and in the CA Fixtures Book. This structure is overseen on behalf of the CA Council by the CA Coaching Committee, of which, as a FCO, you are now a member.
You have been appointed by your Federation, of course, and in that sense your chief loyalty is to them, to assess and meet their coaching needs. While it's your brief to organise coaching where you identify a need, you don't have to do all the coaching yourself.
Nothing is mandatory, but the members of the CA Coaching Committee would encourage you to:
Learn About Your Clubs
Most if not all Federations have both established clubs and new ones. The new clubs may have resulted from work by your Federation Development Officer (FDO). Liaise with your FDO, as development and coaching are often closely related. Established clubs may have CA Graded Coaches and well developed coaching schemes. Situations can change over time, however, and some of these clubs might benefit from some fresh approaches. Assess the number and style of coaches available and identify the needs. Encourage good communicators to become Graded Coaches. Try to ensure that each club has an accredited Club Coach.
Make Yourself Available
Clubs may ask you for coaching of a particular type, or to address particular problems. It's a good sign when they do. To ensure that you can meet the need, try to cultivate friendships with other coaches who could help out. A strong network of coaches in a particular geographical area helps promote the game and also encourages recruitment, something that all clubs can do with.
Develop Regional Coaching Capabilities
There will always be a need to develop new coaches and to enhance the skills of the coaches you have. Assess your regional needs and consider arranging some of the CA's standard courses. If the demand is small, you can encourage individuals to attend courses held elsewhere in the country, such as those advertised in the CA Fixtures Book. The Croquet Academy at Sussex CCC (Southwick) arranges courses on a wide range of croquet topics and can advise on how to put on a course you've requested in your area.
Offer Your Courses Through the CA Fixtures Book
This will enable players from relatively weak Federations to develop, and may make the difference in deciding whether your course is viable or not. In the case of Coach Training Courses (CTC), the CA is willing to subsidise the costs, including those of providing a suitable coaching team.
Report Your Activities to the Coaching Committee
Even if you are not able to attend the Committee yourself, a report helps the CA to understand the situation in your part of the country. Others may be able to learn from what you have done or alternatively may be able to make useful suggestions.
Attend the Coaching Committee
Meetings are held in central London on two Saturdays each year, in February and November. Reasonable travel expenses are paid by the CA. This enables you to contribute to the national scene and to meet and learn from fellow coaching enthusiasts.
Finally, help can always be obtained through discussion with the CA Coaching Committee Chairman. A strong network of Coaches will lead to the delivery of high quality coaching. The CA recognises this and annually recommends a Coach of the Year award for coaching excellence.