Holistic coaching and leading physical activity is about developing the whole person.
It can serve as a key to unlocking potential and helping to shape individuals into well-rounded, successful, and resilient people.
It transforms lives!

The theme for UK Coaching Week 2024 is ‘Holistic Coaching – Developing Skills for Life’ so we asked some of our partners to tell us in their own words how their programmes help to develop skills for life:

Hannah Thompson – Ride High

Ride High is a social enterprise; all profits from the Ride High Equestrian Centre are used to support the local charity Ride High, which transforms the lives of Milton Keynes’ most disadvantaged children.

How do you help your participants develop life skills?
Learning to ride and look after horses develops these skills – half of a participant’s time with us is spent with the horses. All achievements are celebrated so that everyone’s success is measured in their own terms; many do reach independence and personal responsibility. Alongside the riding or in-hand work comes learning about horses (vocabulary, anatomy, care requirements, first aid, etc.) and an expectation that everyone will look after the horses. The need to care for others and particularly to care for the horses in return for their service is made explicit.

The group setting is itself an important part of how we help them to develop life skills. Sometimes projects address things like resilience explicitly, so conversations will centre on the meaning of the word and conscious strategies to develop or maintain it.

Why do you think it’s important for them to develop these skills?
We recognise that these skills are important building blocks of a positive and fulfilling life. The young people referred to us are living with various challenges, but for many their situations make it both urgent and particularly challenging to develop these skills.

The UDOIT Dance Foundation: Uniting Through the Art of Street Dance – Caroline Fallis Taylor

UDIOT street dance charity isn’t just about teaching steps; it’s a movement dedicated to breaking down barriers and building up individuals through the transformative power of dance.

How do you help your participants develop life skills?
At UDOIT, the belief is that dance is a universal language that speaks to resilience, leadership, commitment, confidence, and determination. These aren’t just abstract concepts; they are life skills woven into the fabric of every session, every beat, and every move. The Foundation’s passionate instructors don’t just teach dance—they mentor, they guide, and they inspire.
The sessions are meticulously crafted with clear focus and objectives, ranging from powerful interventions to professional street dance lessons. But it’s not just about the dance; it’s about the journey. As participants groove to the music, they’re often unaware of the leadership skills they’re developing, the confidence they’re building, and the friendships they’re forming—until they reflect on how far they’ve come.
These skills mentioned earlier, can be seamlessly adapted into everyday lives. Our participants learn the value of commitment, perseverance, and hard work through attending lessons and striving to achieve the goals set forth. By instilling the ethos of never giving up, we develop a resolute determination that will serve participants well in their future.
There is no better avenue than dance to boost confidence and encourage individuals to step out of their comfort zones. It empowers them to achieve the seemingly unattainable, fostering a sense of self-assurance that transcends dance and permeates other aspects of their lives. Dance also cultivates the ability to embrace new challenges, as in school work, where encountering difficulties often leads to frustration and the temptation to give up.

How does leading sessions benefit young people?
Moreover, our approach to leadership involves providing opportunities for our young people to step forward and teach, sharing knowledge or demonstrating what they have learned . This not only empowers them but also imbues them with a sense of responsibility and authority. Our overarching mission is to inspire, engage and empower the individuals we work with. It ‘s the reason why UDOIT holds such a profound influence over the lives of young people.

Fight Klub Bucks – Mel Ogle

Fight Klub offers high intensity fun workouts set to music: the programme is a combination of boxing, kick boxing and dance.

How do your adult participants develop life skills in your classes?
We set targets and goals with our students so they have something to aim for. This sets them up to push through barriers to get to that goal. Different people have different things they have to battle.
Confidence – we would encourage them and praise their smaller achievements, let them know we wouldn’t have set that target if we thought it was impossible and we believe in them, they will achieve it. This ties in nicely with resilience, they need to keep showing up and pushing hard to get to the next stage
All of this thinking is transferable to regular/daily tasks.
When you make that connection with a student you learn about their personal problems/battles away from what we are aiming to achieve as their coach. We then give them examples of what they have already overcome to get where they are and how they can do the same for that problem too.
These skills are super important to be able to overcome challenges in life, whether it’s relationships, work/interviews, further education, changes of circumstances. You can build a foundation of skills like these and use them to overcome difficulties or achieve greatness.

Paramount Parkour – Ruel DaCosta

What life skills do young people learn in Parkour?
With Parkour it is 95% failing and 5 % success when we are learning something new so we teach kids that it is OK to fail and failing leads to the creation of something new.
This builds their confidence learn to be comfortable with the uncomfortable. We teach that we are all responsible for our own actions with Parkour this is normally instant for example if you are not focused or listening to the coaching you’re much more likely to make a mistake
Learning to take ownership of your own destiny empowers the mind. We are only limited to what we believe we can achieve. Challenge this belief daily.

All People Active – James Gregory

Why do you think developing life skills is so important for the young people you work with?
It is not our mission to get people better at sport – but it is our mission to help them fall in love with sport and being active. We do this by taking high quality opportunities to their doorstep with great coaches and role models.
Sport is the vehicle for our coaches and role models use it to build great relationships with children and young people that will help them personally develop and build pro-social identities to help them to be seen positively by others, and by themselves. This build up of life skills through sport will increase the likelihood of them going on to have more active, happier, healthier and more successful lives.

We do this by:

  • 1:1 & 1:4 mentoring before, during and after our APA Refugee football sessions.
  • Coffee & Cake space together after our Fun Fitness 4 Women sessions.
  • Special ‘share the air’ session with Merecedes Benz ladies to discuss lives and employability and mental health.
  • Soft leadership opportunities throughout our sessions to follow the ‘grow your own’ ethos.. participants to volunteers to coaches to coordinators.
  • Breaking bread together – having lunch with our participants during holiday programmes, making time and space to sit and have healthy snacks together during our youth groups.

Climbquest – Chris Walthew

Our climbing facility is set up specifically so that all ages, abilities and confidence levels can participate.
Climbing is new to most participants who climb with us, and there is often some fear and nerves particularly around being up high and having to abseil down again. Being able to participate, see your progress in a short space of time, plus overcoming fears and anxieties about doing the activity, and then feel a sense of achievement about what you have accomplished are experiences that participants can take into other situations in life that are new to them and they might feel nerve racking to take part in.

Lastly, it’s not just participants who benefit. Our own Lead The Way gives young people opportunities in leading physical activity they would not normally receive:

Leap, Lead The Way – Anya Forbes-Phyall

How do events such as Lead The Way help develop life skills?
Lead the Way teaches young people valuable social and communication skills, working on building confidence and resilience through working in groups and participating in several activities. Through Lead the Way young people get the opportunity to meet with like minded individuals from across the county. They work with great coaches who understand the value of the programme. We’re working in partnership with the Youth Sports Trust to provide an inclusive, safe space for young people to develop.

To find out more about Lead the Way, please contact Anya on anya.forbes-phyall@leapwithus.org.uk

Many of the coaches, leaders and organisations here are part of MK Movers.
For more information on any of the projects, please follow the links to their websites.