Self-Reflection, Through My Eyes: Coaching Clinic 3

Self-reflection in coaching can be described as an examination of experiences to contribute to the development of the coach’s knowledge and interpersonal skills. Supporting this definition is the suggestion that coaching without reflection, is coaching without progression or change. On completion of each coaching session, Authors propose the use of self-reflection within coaching to enable participants to consistently learn and grow.

Schon 1983, introduced a two-part self-reflection model; broken down into reflection-in-action and reflection-on-action. Reflection-in-action refers to reflecting on the practice being conducted in the present time; Schon described this as the coach “thinking on your feet”. In-action usually occurs when an experience challenges the coach, allowing them the opportunity to clarify and re-design the situation in real-time. Contrastingly, reflection-on-action occurs once the experience has finished; allowing coaches to explore why, so what, and now what.

Literature argues that Schon’s reflective framework disregards reflection-before-action; which is a critical segment of a reflective cycle, allowing structured opportunity to construct and plan based on previous experiences. Expanding the model into a three stage model, allowing sufficient time to reflect.

This is the three stage model I use to reflect on my coaching experiences. An incredibly simplistic model that enables us to reflect in the three critical stages of any sporting experience (before, in, and on).

Scenario Example

Basketball allows for unlimited substitutions, providing the coach with an important role of using in-action reflection consistently to make the appropriate changes necessary. The game being reflected on is comprised of many opportunities to play younger athletes, due to factors such as; winning by a large margin, experienced athletes available to assist new players and allowing these participants to learn in an appropriate environment.

Reflection-on-action provided the opportunity to justify why decisions were made. For example, through rotating the bench consistently, it provided the athletes the opportunity to develop beyond basketball skills alone. It provided a platform for athletes to grow in confidence, and try new things in a forgiving environment. If the athlete turned over the ball, it would prove insignificant in the end-result, therefore there was lesser pressure for the athlete to perform, but also an exemplary opportunity to get in-game experience.

That’s the reflective cycle I use, please note that there are numerous reflective models out there. It’s highly important to select a model that works for you and adapt it accordingly to make it the most effective it can be. Implementing a reflective model into your practice requires consistent thought and discipline to actively use the model. Like anything, the more you practice using it, the more effective it will become.

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