The Otú coaching model for leading

Stephen Forsha

The Otú coaching model was developed within the Gaelic Athletic Association and provides a framework for organizing training that allows players to reach their potential within Gaelic sports. The model was developed by Pat Daly, GAA Head of Games and is set up around six competencies; Technical Proficiency, Tactical Prowess, Team Play, Psychological Focus, Physical Fitness and Playing Facts. These six competencies are often referred to as the 3T’s and 3P’s.

The philosophy behind this coaching model is to develop each of the 3T’s and 3P’s within the individual players. A lack of one competency will reduce the effectiveness of the other competencies, particularly under game situations so it is important to focus on each of the six competencies as you train and develop your players.

What does this have to do with leadership? First, coaching and leadership are interrelated so leaders can take many lessons from coaching. Second, leaders need to develop their followers so they can reach their potential and in so doing help their team and organization be successful.

Below, each competency is addressed from a coaching perspective along with their possibilities for leaders’ use in developing training that can be impactful for their followers.

Technical Proficiency.  Know how to perform the fundamental skills of the game consistently and at the speed of the game.  To do this, a coach should ensure training is conducted at a level that is challenging yet not too high to prevent chances for success. The coach must recognize that each player has their own abilities and challenges will be different for almost every player.

Leaders must recognize that their followers are at different levels of technical proficiency and provide them with skills training that will enhance the technical knowledge of each member of their team. Provide individualized training to develop the technical knowledge of each follower, meet their needs where their current capabilities are.

Tactical Prowess.  Know when to perform one of the many skills within the game. This is player decision-making during the game. Players must be able to read the game situations as they are presented and then apply their decision-making skills. To make such decisions, players must have the ability to perform the fundamental skills and coaches need to teach players to scan their environment and be attentive to their surroundings.

Leaders need to develop the decision-making skills of their followers. Create environments and training that allow followers to practice decision-making and learn from both successes and failures. Develop opportunities for followers to use their technical proficiencies in decision-making processes.

Team Play. Know the strengths and weaknesses of your teammates, who goes where on the field and what their roles are. This is the development of interaction among teammates and the ability to anticipate what one’s teammates will do. It is an extension of tactical prowess. Coaches can develop team play through modified game play, which provides opportunities for teammates to play together under controlled conditions.

Leaders should provide their followers with opportunities to work together and develop their team competencies. Every training event should include opportunities for followers to work together and develop as a team.

Psychological focus.  Have the mental fitness and resilience to play the game. This involves being in the moment and not letting past successes or failures linger in player’s minds. Coaches can help develop psychological focus by developing players who are confident, competent and committed to achieving their potential and the potential of the team.

Leaders should not forget to develop confidence in their followers while also developing follower resilience. Encourage followers to be mindful of their emotions and be able to interpret successes and failures. Accept that failures will occur and create a learning environment supports and builds resilience in your followers.

Physical fitness. Be able to last throughout the game and set the pace of play. This also means that a coach should be mindful of the fitness levels of each of their players, their injuries and their recoveries.

Leaders need to be cognizant of the health of their followers and look for signs of fatigue and burnout. Control the tempo of work so followers can perform at their peak levels and have time to recover from major projects or crises within the organization.

Playing facts. The ability to identify playing strengths and areas for improvement. This involves gathering information about player and team performance that is as objective as possible. The coach wants to create an accurate record of performance that can be analyzed and used to improve individual and team performance.

Leaders need to provide objective feedback to their followers that are not clouded by personal bias. Followers should also know where they fit within the team and larger organization.  Leaders should engage in continuous improvement for their followers, their team and their organization.

On the surface, the Otú coaching model is a straightforward guide but it introduces a whole-person development philosophy that requires a vast array of expertise in coaches to make it successful. Stephen Forsha The ability to use the Otú coaching model to its fullest takes time and effort to develop and includes formal training for coaches. Just like coaches, leaders need to develop themselves and should seek out such opportunities. Leaders can apply each of the six competencies in their own development while they use them to develop their followers.

Stephen Forsha is the Director of the School of Business and Technology at William Woods University.

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