Who would have thought back in 1993, when I was leaving school, that I would be so pleased and relishing the opportunity to be back in the educational system? This time, I am a mature student enrolled with Gloucester University taking a Post Graduate Degree that is England Squash and Racketball’s new coaching qualification, the “High Performance Award”.
The course can be made into a Masters Degree with an additional year and completed dissertation. My time in coaching has been a bit of a whirlwind and England Squash have certainly helped to provide me with many continued learning opportunities and a pathway for me to work hard and thrive within. The HPA award is certainly one example of this.
The course, which has attracted 14 of England’s elite coaches, is the brainchild of Paul Carter, head of England’s Elite Coach Development team. Paul, along with many of his coaching and performance colleagues, have worked hard to offer this high spec course, which has replaced the old Level 4 qualification.
It is designed to be recognised as the pinnacle of the coaching model, which is dedicated to creating a network of coaches across the country, who share ideas and philosophy with each other. The coaching programme is very much aimed towards being inclusive rather than exclusive and the shared knowledge will help to spread a consistent message throughout the land. The High Performance Award is the flagship of the coaching course programme within a structure that now features 14-15 coaching workshops across the country every season.
The detail and quality offered on the High Performance Award is having an affect throughout the entire coach qualification structure, in order to align England Squash and Racketball qualifications, the current Level 3, award, which is a stepping stone towards the High Performance Award, has been modified to become a slightly less detailed version; the Level 3 is now underpinned by many of the HPA subjects and also features many of the highly regarded and specialised tutors from the flagship course.
Paul Carter confirmed this recently: “The information provided at the new Level 3 is very current and has been adapted to suit the demands of the modern game. There is lots of new and fresh information on offer that did not feature in the old Level 4. I believe that the new Level 3 is a very effective course.”
What has been great so far is how the course challenges conventional thinking and really makes me think. Independent experts have been brought in to shed more light on each aspect of the course. Some of the subjects included have been, Skill Acquisition, Myers Briggs Type Indicator, Bio-mechanics, Nutrition, Critical Thinking, Psychology, Reflective Thinking, Analysis, Chris Robertson’s Squash Pillars and Strength & Conditioning with England’s Keith Barker to name just a few.
The intention of the course is to develop coaches that can operate effectively on the world stage, to be able to work with international teams and individuals.
Paul also explained:” The HPA is special because of the level of expertise involved. For example, Chris Robertson, the England National Coach tutors for a number of days, as well as former England cricket psychologist David Young, who currently also works with the elite squash players on the Academy programme, as well as Worcestershire and Middlesex county cricket. The course has been specially designed to meet the needs of the individual coach and is specific to the demands of squash.”
I am now in the process of putting together my final portfolio after 15 months of the course. The work is 11-12,000 words long and features; coaching philosophy, reflections and work with two players that includes the Performance Pillars, Talent Development, Psychology, S&C, Performance analysis and Sport Science. I must admit the whole referencing process is very alien to me and a whole new challenge.
The course has been very informative and challenging and I would highly recommend it to anyone who gets the opportunity to take it in the future.