Imagine coaching a rugby team that has two key players who can barely stand each other.
Philip Sullivan can laugh about it now, but the professor and chair of the Department of Kinesiology recalls the schism that developed after the boyfriend of one player ended their relationship and started dating another player on the team.
“If one of them had the ball, she wouldn’t pass it to the other player,” Sullivan recalled.
So how did he get his team working together again?
Sullivan will enlighten students during his coaching theory class this summer. It’s one of several super courses - intensive classes taught over two weeks that would otherwise be spread out over a term or school year- being offered as part of Brock’s newly expanded spring and summer course offerings.
The Faculty of Applied Health Sciences has six super courses to choose from this summer, including classes in recreation and leisure studies, sport management, community health sciences, and kinesiology.
Super courses worth half and full credits are also being offered in dramatic arts, English, women’s studies and computer sciences.
Sullivan’s coaching theory class will cover coaching principles that include sport psychology, coaching and teaching sport skills effectively, and how to plan sessions from practices to seasons.
Although the class is open to kinesiology and physical education majors who have the pre-requisites, interested students may also be admitted with the permission of the professor.
A major component of Sullivan’s course will be observing coaching behaviour on local pitches, ball diamonds and playing fields.
Students will be assigned to watch and analyze how coaches teach and motivate players, diagnose and correct errors, and build relationships with team members on both children’s and adult teams.
“Being a super course in the summer, this is really easy because you have Timbits soccer and other children’s sports, and programs here at Brock,” Sullivan said.
“The ability to get out to see what happens and have all of these different eyes seeing it, and then coming back to class to discuss it, you realize what all the different (coaching) trends are.”
This is the first time in several years the course has been offered at Brock. Those who it could benefit include current and prospective teachers, athletes and sport leaders at all levels.
“It’s a shame it fell by the wayside because it’s a really useful course for students,” Sullivan said. “It’s constantly inquired about by students.”
In addition to observing coaches at work, the class will include assigned readings and self-guided seminars where discussion will focus on current events in the world of coaching and examples of situations that can arise behind the bench.
“What’s going to happen during the basketball the night before? Is there going to be a bench-clearing brawl? Is a coach going to direct a pitcher to throw a ball at someone’s head?” Sullivan rhymed off possible scenarios that could make headlines and fodder for class discussion.