The power of self awareness questions when coaching

Self awareness questions were the first coaching technique I learnt when being trained to coach in 1993. I had no idea what Frank was going on about. Frank was our trainer, by the way.

How on earth could you teach people or coach people things through self awareness questions. Nonsense, I thought. I guess I struggled at the time to distinguish the two – coach and train.

But last Sunday I had to make self awareness coaching work otherwise I was doomed.  Destined to the ranks of a third rate rugby coach with my Under 14’s team.

Head Coach Mark asked me to take away our two scrum halfs and do some personal coaching with them. Cricky, I thought. In my rugby playing days I never went near the scrum halfs preferring the sanctuary of the rucks and mauls. And I still haven’t the faintest idea how they do their job.

So I had to think quickly on my feet.

One of our scrum halfs, Jakey, is particularly good and other one was learning the ropes, so I immediately got Jakey to show Dan some of his best moves.

Brilliant. But then it was my turn to coach them both…so I started asking self awareness questions.  Questions simply designed to get them to express what they are doing, what they’re observing, feeling, touching…so they become more aware and conscious of how to do it better. Tweaking the finer points.

“So Jakey, what technique are you using there?”

“Who are you watching when you pass the ball?”

“What position are your feet in as you reach down?”

And so on. Soon Dan took over and I continued to ask the same questions.

“Dan, where are you looking now?”

“Dan, what angle are you holding the ball?”

Phew, I thought to myself as the two boys improved their game. “Thanks coach” they said at the end “that was cool”

The power of self awareness questions. But has it taken me 18 years to figure them out?  I don’t know, but without them last Sunday I would have become a third rate junior rugby coach, at least I remain second rate, one day maybe first rate!