The Coronavirus pandemic has disrupted the lives of every athlete in the land, yet for one group of up-and-coming Coventry College sportsmen, their timetable remains as busy as ever.
Online software and video technology has enabled the College’s 31-strong cohort of rugby athletes – who combine classroom study with professional-standard rugby training as part of the Coventry College Rugby Academy – to continue their sporting development.
Joe Foreman teaches BTEC sport and vocational sports studies at Coventry College, including the coaching, strength and conditioning training for the college’s rugby academy, and is the driving force behind the rugby academy’s digital approach.
Providing insight into his remote teaching system, Joe said: “It’s easy enough to see how traditional subjects could work remotely, but when it comes to sports coaching, not being physically with the students presents a real challenge.
“We quickly moved all resources, vocational lessons, strength and conditioning programming and chats to online formats with the use of Microsoft Teams messenger groups, video analysis, video coaching and online meetings.
“Learners are set up in messenger groups on Microsoft Teams in which I contact them daily. In these groups, I post deadlines, meeting times and ask any questions I may have of the class.
“Zoom meetings are scheduled in relation to college timetables, and within these group sessions, I always screen share to enhance the visual learning progression and demonstrate live any practical or written activities as needed.
“During these lessons, I ask learners to reply with emojis to check if they are keeping up with the learning, they can send a thumbs up if they are happy and ready to move on, or a thumbs down if they need more time.
“If any learner is reluctant to ask questions during the live lesson, I ask them to stay on the session after the others have signed off to raise any concerns and I go over any sections they’ve struggled with again.
“I also send the group a video analysis of fixtures that we played previously in the year with individual and group feedback on.
“Playing rugby obviously isn’t possible for now, but that doesn’t mean they can’t dedicate time to maintaining their fitness so that when the time comes to get back out on to the rugby pitch, they are ready to go.
“That’s why I have set the learners up in a Microsoft Teams messenger group and on this I send a five-week programme along with some silent video demonstrations of me performing the exercises, to help perform the exercises correctly.
“Students are restricted by the space they have at home and a lack of gym equipment, which is why I set exercises that can be completed in a small space and using furniture everyone will have such as a sofa or a chair.
“All learners are required to submit a ten second clip to the strength and conditioning messenger group of them performing an exercise within each workout session for group accountability, and recognition that everyone is staying on top of their strength and conditioning along with a rating of how intense they found the session.
“The technology is there, it just requires an agile mindset to maximise the use of it, and hopefully sharing our own experience will help to enhance the delivery of other courses both within Coventry College and further afield.”
For more information about the Coventry College Rugby Academy visit www.coventrycollege.ac.uk