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 Croquet England, with agreed course syllabuses and materials, grades of accredited coaches and so on. You can read about these in the coaching section and in the Fixtures Calendar. All this is overseen by the Coaching Committee, of which, as an FCO, you are now a member.
You have been appointed by your Federation, of course, so your first priority is 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 members of the Coaching Committee are encouraged 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 Croquet England 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 Club-Level Coaches with good interpersonal skills, appropriate experience and a track record of success to consider Graded Coach status. Not least, work towards ensuring that each club has a good accredited Club-Level 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 working relationships and 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 need.
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 Croquet England 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 Fixtures Calendar. The Croquet Academies arrange courses on a wide range of croquet topics and can discuss with you ways of meeting a need you have identified.
Offer Courses Through the Croquet England Fixtures Calendar
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), Croquet England is willing to offer subsidies towards costs, and can help by linking you with a suitable Lead Coach.
Report Your Activities to the Coaching Committee
Reports from Federation Coaching Officers help Croquet England to appreciate what is happening in your part of the country and help you to understand what is going on elsewhere. 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 three times a year by Zoom: a Saturday morning in February, normally the first Saturday morning of the month; an evening during the season, normally the third Wednesday in May; and a Saturday morning in November, normally the last Saturday morning of the month. These meetings enable you not only to contribute to croquet coaching nationally, but also to develop your own coaching skills by sharing ideas and approaches with fellow enthusiasts about successful croquet coaching.
Finally, help can always be obtained through discussion with the Coaching Committee Chair. A strong network of coaches is an essential foundation for delivering high-quality croquet coaching nationally and locally, raising standards, and developing the next generation of players. To recognise and encourage this, Croquet England annually recommends a Coach of the Year award for coaching excellence.