Systematic coaching

25 June

As with any coaching, an agile coach has to think of the macro and the micro when working with their teams. This “systems” view of coaching can add a huge impact to any coaching being delivered. All it takes is for the coach to take a few minutes to observe, think and plan. Then the coach can engage with intent, focus and knowledge.

Continuous improvement is a holistic, systems approach to growth that coaches need to be aware of and make changes intentionally.

When a tennis coach asks a tennis player to change their grip on the racquet so they can get more power into their serve, the coach has to look at the entire system to ensure there is no injury and that the new grip actually produces the required outcome. Initially, the coach has to work on the muscles that support the hand, as they will get fatigued with the new grip – so gym work is required to build up new muscle strength and practice to build muscle memory. The player will experience a drop in effectiveness until the change becomes more natural – so motivation work is required so they don’t become discouraged and revert to the old way of doing things. The change in the power in the serve will mean that the player’s stance needs to change after the serve, so footwork coaching in required so the rest of the player’s game is not thrown off by this one change. The player then needs to practice not only the grip change, but all the other elements of the change until it becomes second nature, a habit, a basic drill, so they don’t need to be thinking about it before doing it. All this happens before, during and after the coaching for the change in the grip.

This is not a one-off interaction – the coach needs to:

  1. Identify the need for the change – more power in the serve

  2. Identify the change needed – change in grip

  3. Identify the supporting mechanisms – the arm muscles

  4. Identify how to improve the supporting mechanisms – gym work

  5. Identify the timeline associated with the supporting mechanisms to prevent injury – 2 weeks before grip change

  6. Identify the other factors influenced by the change – feet positions and stance

  7. Identify how to modify the other factors to support the change – practice new grip and stances

  8. Understand the immediate impacts of the change – effectiveness drop

  9. Measure the immediate impacts of the change – serve power

  10. Measure the improvements associated with the change – serve power improvements

  11. Make the “change” the new normal – it becomes habitual rather than deliberate thought

  12. Monitor other elements of the system to assess the impact of the change - rally grip or net game


As with a tennis coach, the agile coach needs to be making conscious and intentional decisions about the change they make with their teams, they need to think about the impact of any recommended change on the team, the individuals within the team, and the teams that interact with their client team. The coach needs to consider the supporting mechanisms of the change target, as well as the other elements impacted by the change and ensure that they have made provision for what else needs to be done to support these. The value of the change being tracked via metrics is also important. Continuous improvement is a holistic, systems approach to growth that coaches need to be aware of and make changes intentionally.


Posted by Sharon Robson
Copyright © Sharon Robson