Coaching: an inclusive person-centred approach

Inclusion is pro-active behaviours, options and actions to make people from all backgrounds, ages and abilities feel welcome, respected and that they belong.

This resource focusses on how coaches can approach their sessions so that everyone who is taking part is fully included and feels welcome. This isn’t really about the climbing, but focussed on other factors that make up a successful experience. There’s some further resources that are referenced below that go into more detail and give greater insight into this topic.

These pointers are a summary of those outlined by Dr Annette Stride, Leeds Beckett University in the interview held with iCoachKids (see video below):

  • Greet people, make them feel welcome and that they belong at the session. Learn people’s names.
  • Get to know people and treat them as individuals. Be aware of any needs or requirements that are specific to them. Keep checking in with people.
  • Find out why people are there. What motivates them? What is success to them? They might be there to improve technical skills, but might also be there to make friends, or to get fit.
  • Celebrate people for who they are and what they bring. Embrace differences. Make every person feel valued and that they would be missed if they weren’t there next time.
  • Help people to get to know each other, and to feel a part of something. If people feel like they belong: they will keep coming back.
  • Offer appropriate success and challenge in sessions. To do this you will need to know each person to ensure that this is pitched right for them. People should feel that they are in a safe space where they can have a try, reflect and feel supported if they don’t succeed straight away.
  • Celebrate everyone’s successes. Everyone should feel they have something positive to take away from a session, not just the most technically able students.

Tools for adapting sessions to meet the needs of the participants:

  • Talk to people and get their feedback. What do people enjoy about the sessions? Why not ask members of the group for their input, what else they would like to see or try?
  • Being adaptable and resourceful, you may have to make changes as you go. Don’t be afraid to adapt from what you had planned to do.
  • Watching other peoples coaching, and looking at what works in other sports.
  • Build your confidence to trying things out. If it doesn’t work, you can always try something else.
  • STEP: this is a handy framework that can be used to vary activity to meet the needs of a group. If you find you need to change something, think about the:
    • S – Space: change the space in which the activity is taking place;
    • T – Task: change the nature of the activity;
    • E – Equipment: change the type, size or colour;
    • P – People: change the people—the numbers and/or ways in which they are involved, and how they interact with each other.

Further reading / watching:

ICOACHKIDS inclusivity and diversity concepts: (great example in this video of how a swimming session can be adapted so that swimmers of mixed ability and experience all have a good learning experience)

Activity Alliance 10 principles to make activities appealing to disabled participants:

Play their Way helping children to find their voices: