20th November 2018
Peninsula Handball Club’s Amy Hardwick is a young passionate coach going places.
The 2018 England Handball Young Female Coach of the Year is studying for a Masters in Sports Coaching at Liverpool John Moores University. She also coaches the Peninsula Under-16 team, and at Wirral Grammar School for Girls, where there is a satellite club for Peninsula.
Amy said: “I love watching the players. They come in, they’ve never played handball before, you can watch them develop and see how you can help them, as a player and a person. Quite a few of the girls that I’ve coached, they’ve been really shy and you help to bring them out of their shell. You see them as a new person. It’s lovely to see.”
Amy says her coaching style is person-centred, commenting: “Everything I’ve learned through my degree, all players react very differently. For example, some players will react well to people shouting – the majority of players probably don’t. It’s better to have a conversation with them. You shouting at them is really not going to make a difference.”
Sport England’s This Girl Can campaign has highlighted that women often face different barriers to men in sports participation. Hardwick’s approach focuses on keeping young women in handball by engaging the players in session planning. “I always have a plan. I’ll always let everyone know what we’re going to do every session, and then ask them if they have any ideas. If we’re going to work on a skill, I’ll ask them if they have any ideas about what they’ve done in the past, or videos on Facebook or YouTube. If they want to try them out, I’m always more than happy for them to input.
“Obviously this approach works better with more experienced athletes, so for the more novice player I do tend to be more instruction based, but would still welcome their input. All players are different and have their own ways of learning and taking on and understanding information.”
She says this approach is particularly effective with girls, keeping them engaged as much as she can and providing encouragement. Amy said: “I encourage a lot. I don’t shout at them. If they do anything wrong, I’m not bothered. I’m a strong believer that making mistakes makes you better. You’ve got to make mistakes to be able to improve. That makes you understand things as well. If they lose every single game I don’t mind. For them, it’s nicer to win; but if they feel they’ve played well and put in all their effort, that’s all I can ask for really.”
Hardwick is well-supported by other coaches at Peninsula. She says coaching is a lot about controlling the coach’s emotions in order to get the most out of the players.
“It comes down to frustration. There are times you can see them doing something over and over again and you’ve told them, obviously you’ll get frustrated. Hold it back, and have a calm conversation with them. Maybe try it this way next time, maybe they weren’t confident enough to try it, and constantly giving them negative feedback is only going to knock their confidence anyway".