Coaching within the DSC
The DSC has a duty of care to promote good flying practice and help new pilots to develop their skills, and this is primarily undertaken through the coaching system. The Chief Coach and team of Senior and Club Coaches have the role of providing continuation training for qualified pilots within the club and to maintain established BHPA protocols and practices.
How does the coaching system work?
All new pilots are encouraged to make contact with the coaches at the earliest opportunity. Once contact is made, a coach will usually be able to meet the new pilot, guide them through their first flights and help them develop their skills – right through to Pilot rating and beyond. The club occasionally organises coaching events, (like exam lectures or morning meetups known as “Breakfast Briefings”), but most coaching in the club is done on an ad hoc, one-to-one basis. It is the new pilot’s duty to engage with the coaches and the coaches duty to provide the guidance and mentoring that is needed.
There have often been misunderstandings over the role of coaches in the club. It has occasionally been circulated that coaches “cannot instruct but only advise” or “coaches aren’t insured to teach”… and that doing so risks litigation. This is all incorrect. Such assertions have historical reasons and are usually made with the best intentions, but lack of clarity about the role of coaching in our sport causes much confusion and often stifles much-needed coaching. In reality the distinction drawn by the BHPA between the role of Instructor and Coach is simple: BHPA coaches must only teach rated pilots, while unrated pilots must only be taught by a BHPA instructor. These distinctions are vital, but within such limits club coaches are all properly insured. Of course, a good coach will rarely be dictatorial or prescriptive. The whole aim of coaching in our sport is to help each pilot develop their own skills and decision-making abilities. It is indeed an art, but done well it is a pleasure to witness.
BHPA coaches must only teach rated pilots, while unrated pilots must only be taught by a BHPA instructor.
The fear of litigation among coaches is understandable, but it is often unfounded, and can seriously suppress much-needed coaching within the club. It can even lead to advice not being given that should have been, itself a possible opportunity for litigation! If you require more clarification on coaching roles contact your Chief Coach.
What makes a good coach?
Although the coaches serve the club as volunteers, they do have a number of important duties to fulfil (see responsibilities below). So as well as a general willingness to serve, they will be expected to meet various criteria, such as an ability to listen, a calm, measured approach and the absence of a know-it-all attitude!
A good coach-like attitude will need to be evident before a Chief Coach will commend anyone for a coaching licence. All coaches also need to undergo initial BHPA coach training, be revalidated annually to ensure that they remain “an active and valued member of the coaching team”, and need to take coach refresher courses every 5 years.
Could you be a coach?
We’re always on the lookout for coaches to join the team. If you think you have what it takes, and have some patience, knowledge and flying experience under your belt, please consider becoming a club coach. It’s a challenging role at times, requires a certain mix of wisdom and humility and is not suited to everybody. But if you’re willing to put some time aside to help others and are open to developing your coaching skills, then the position can be incredibly rewarding. Talk to an existing coach for more details about what the role entails, and contact your Chief Coach if you’re interested.
Coach responsibilities (from the BHPA Tech Manual):
The Club Coach
Role and responsibilities
a) Provide information, guidance and help in a safe, proven manner to club pilots qualified for the activity undertaken.
b) Support and assist the Senior Coaches by sharing coaching duties.
c) Improve their own flying and coaching skills and knowledge in various ways, including studying handbooks, articles in Skywings (especially the Safety Matters Page) and Incident Summaries and Safety Notices.
d) Operate safely within their known skills and personal environments in accordance with the recognised procedures and regulations.
e) Promote the use of the Incident Reporting scheme within the club.
f) Maintain and promote a positive attitude to the sport, the FSC and the BHPA.
g) Uphold their duty of care to other members and members of the public
The Senior Coach
Role and responsibilities
In addition to the responsibilities of the Club Coach the Senior Coach must support and assist the Chief Coach in:
a) Organising and coordinating coaching within the club.
b) Encouraging pilots to use the club coaching facility through effective promotion and education.
c) Establishing and maintaining an effective coaching team within the club.
d) Maintaining an effective liaison with the Club Safety Officer.
e) Supervising and monitoring the development of potential coaches, and assisting in the selection and appointment of Club Coaches
The Chief Coach
Role and responsibilities
a) Organise and coordinate coaching within their club.
b) Provide information, guidance and help in a safe, proven manner to club pilots qualified for the activity undertaken.
c) Encourage pilots to use the club coaching facility through promotion and education.
d) Establish and maintain an effective coaching team within the club.
e) Establish and maintain an effective liaison with the Club Safety Officer.
f) Supervise and monitor the development of potential coaches, and select and appoint Club Coaches and Senior Coaches.
g) Operate safely within their known skills and personal environments in accordance with the recognised procedures and regulations contained in the TM.
h) Improving their own flying and coaching skills and knowledge in various ways, including studying the TM, handbooks, articles in Skywings (especially the Safety Matters Page) and Incident Summaries and Safety Notices.
i) Promote the use of the Incident Reporting scheme within the club.
j) Maintain and promote a positive attitude to the sport, the FSC and the BHPA.
k) Uphold his duty of care to the student and members of the public.
l) Maintain an effective liaison with the FSC. Chief Coaches should have regular contact with the FSC, and in particular they should keep the FSC fully informed of new ideas or any difficulties occurring in their clubs.
Advice to coaches
Here are a few tips to new coaches: Please make sure you read each issue of Skywings and pay particular attention to any bulletins or safety notices. It is your duty as a coach to ensure new rules and practices are passed on to club members.
The BHPA also produces periodic Instructor and Coach Newsletters that are available online but should be sent out to all coaches by email. These newsletters are specifically aimed at instructors and coaches, and are essential reading. As coaching is such a vital part of pilot development in the club environment, the DSC is keen to support you as you develop your coaching skills and expand your knowledge. The DSC also encourages and supports coaches towards obtaining further skills such as first aid training or working towards a senior coach licence. Please be proactive in your own coaching development. It really helps to “buddy up” or listen in to more experienced coaches. You may well have some suggestions for how coaching could be done better in the club. Your Chief Coach would love to hear them!
Please note that you’ll need to attend refresher Coach Courses every five years, so keep a record of your coach course attendance to ensure your licence is up-to-date.
Your coach licences must be re-validated every year (along with your membership renewal), so your Chief Coach will need to sign a “Declaration Of Support” for your coach renewal. The BHPA now accept these revalidations by email, so when yours comes up for renewal please contact the Chief Coach (at firstname.lastname@example.org). The Chief Coach can then confirm their continued support directly with the BHPA office. This reduces postage, paperwork and time and is the much-preferred method. Anyone needing to use the old method can still send their coach renewal paperwork by post.