Tips for coaching sports abroad

Published 19/10/2017

tips for coaching sports abroad

If I asked what your dream day would be, what would you say?

If you like sports, could you imagine anything better than coaching enthusiastic kids sports every day, that the kids love, on tropical islands in Fiji? We couldn’t either – which is why youth sports coaching has become an integral part of our Fiji volunteering programs.

We believe coaching sports in a structured environment offers these kids a wealth of opportunities and helps develop their skills as well as encourages a healthy lifestyle. Sports is a fantastic addition to helping support teaching in schools.

The video below showcases what sports coaching in Fiji truly means.

So, if you want to coach sports and generally get involved in sports abroad, what are some tips and things you should think about?

We asked some of our previous volunteers about their recommendations for getting prepared to coach sports in Fiji and listed them below.

1. Focus on Engagement and Involvement

One of the first things to consider is ensuring you get everyone involved and engaged in any sports coaching session. You may be taking a large group of 10-year olds or perhaps just working 1-2-1 with a promising 18 year old aspiring rugby player – the key thing to remember is what the aim of the coaching session is and ensuring everyone is fully engaged in what you’re teaching.

For younger groups, you’ll probably want to ensure the session is fun and doesn’t exclude anyone for any reason. As the kids get older, sessions can start to include more technical and skill focused sessions to help improve their overall ability in a specific sport.

It’s also worth considering introducing new sports. Many children will have only played the same sport day in day out. In Fiji, rugby and netball dominate the sports calendar. This means introducing something like football, cricket or even lacrosse, provides completely new skills and opportunities. Even activities like bulldogs or dodgeball can be great at energising a class and getting them excited about a new way to keep active.

2. Fundamentals

In the case of Fiji, the kids play rugby religiously, but due to a lack of infrastructure and formal training, many struggle with fundamental skills. When the kids play on their own, all they end up doing is throwing the ball around and side stepping their friends (which they can do very well!). But when it comes to scrums, line-outs, set plays and opportunities at the breakdown, they can really benefit from someone offering support, guidance and formal training sessions.

Within a few weeks, our volunteers are often surprised at just how far some kids can come in relation to developing their skills.

3. Utilise resources and training gained in the UK/Europe

We all have experience of P.E. and sports lessons. These are a great place to start in terms of thinking about how to structure sports coaching sessions. Keeping it simple is often the best approach.

Bringing over things like the bleep test may seem very simple, however most schools in places like Fiji won’t have experienced something like that. As a result, such a simple session could be a great way to demonstrate where individual student’s fitness levels are in comparison to others. This could then be maintained in the schools every year and allow the schools to develop sports lessons after you’ve left.

Providing resources and structures so schools and communities can develop what you implement is a great way to create a sports legacy in the places you volunteer.

4. Bring videos on your phone

Although volunteering in Fiji or anywhere in the world should be about putting phones and other electrical devices away and focusing wholeheartedly on the experience, phones can be very useful at storing videos of example sports sessions. Especially with language barriers, explaining a new drill or training session with a video can be more effective than trying to verbally communicate it.

Utilising Youtube videos or content from sports teams websites can provide a huge range of potential ideas and things to include when teaching sports.

Coaching Sports in Fiji with Think Pacific

If you think sports coaching in Fiji sounds like your kind of thing, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with our friendly team who are ready and waiting to help guide you on a once in a lifetime journey through the Fiji Islands.

Danny ventured to Fiji back in 2012 and getting involved in sports training was a big reason why he wanted to go (and why he’s still out there all this time later!). Check out his story below.

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