“Live your beliefs and you can change the world around you.” -Henry David Thoreau
Coaching is widely known as an art as opposed to a science. However, research provides evidence that coaching is not only an art, but embodies scientific principles. Personally, I believe that coaching is both an art and a science. For example, the discipline of strength and conditioning requires the individual to be both an effective coach and an interdisciplinary sport scientist.
Despite this fact, many coaches pay too much attention on the technical part of the process while forgetting that their athletes are not robots, but human beings! In order to get athletes to move physically, we must first get people to move psychologically and emotionally. Human connection is the major determinant of success. Don’t get me wrong; I don’t say that knowledge is not important! It definitely is, that’s why every coach must possess the appropriate knowledge to be able to make his athletes better or the best!
Lets have a look at the “skills” a real coach must possess.
“The best coaches are the best not because they think of themselves as a master, but because they always want to keep learning”
The key here is to accept that no one knows everything. A real coach has the interest and willingness to learn from others. ”Others” might be a mentor or a great and successful coach. The ability to seek out, accept and integrate feedback without being defensive is what will make a good coach even better. Every coach should make attempts to try new actions in order to get improved results.
Unfortunately, once people become a coach, they feel they can no longer admit that they don’t know everything. If you want to be the best, you should never lose curiosity to learn new things, cause someone out there will be always be a step-or steps ahead from you, and he will be successful by developing oneself, as you get stuck in what you already know. Never stop being a student, be a lifelong learning coach, instead.
“Become the other person and go from there.” Zen Master Tanouye Roshi
Empathy is the capacity to understand or feel what another person is experiencing from within the other person’s frame of reference. In other words, empathy is about being able to spend some time in someone else’s shoes (Bellet and Maloney, 1991). Don’t blame a bad performance when you don’t know what’s happening in your athlete’s life.
In order to get our athletes to move physically, we must first get people to move psychologically and emotionally. Athletes are human beings, right? They are not robots, they have feelings. So, get to know them better, ask them questions and always show understanding!
“A coach is there to take you somewhere you want to go when you can’t get there yourself” Martin Rooney
- Availability: Show your presence, pay enough attention. To be a good coach you need to be a good listener, too! Training never ends at the field, it is an ongoing process. Show that you are there for them!
“The use of appropriate and non-disparaging humor helps improve group cohesion, increases positive connections between the student and the instructor”
- Sense of humor:
Do you believe that in order to successfully lead young athletes, you need to take a strict, authoritarian approach? I don’t think so! It’s unfortunate this mindset has taken hold because humor can be an incredibly powerful tool. Humor can enhance engagement, rapport, and learning regardless of the setting in which you find yourself. According to research regarding the use of humor in the classroom shows that the use of appropriate and non-disparaging humor helps improve group cohesion, increases positive connections between the student and the instructor (and between the student and the environment), and also aids in the retention of the course material to which it (the humor) is connected.
“Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day; Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime”
A real coach teaches his athletes how to teach themselves by enhancing an athlete’s awareness of the training method and its desired outcome.
Every coach should aim to enhance one’s physical capabilities, improve ones movement proficiency, strength, power, speed and endurance. Coaches should implement key concepts such as appropriate analysis (movement screening, physical performance testing ), planning , periodization, programming, non contact coaching, coaching and recovery. Coaches should also know about biomechanics, physiology, psychology and nutrition.
The role of a coach is to enhance athleticism and decrease the risk of sports injuries through the testing, evaluation and prescription of appropriate exercises in close collaboration with sport coaches, physiotherapists and other relevant professionals.
“There is no gadget that can inspire and ignite an athlete like an emotionally tuned coach can”
As a coach you should aim to improve your athletes’ confidence and sense of overall positive self worth. Facilitate positive bonds and social relationships inside and outside of sport. Build character. Encourage moral attributes such as respect, integrity, empathy and responsibility. Encourage athletes to take responsibility for their own environment, programming and personal standards.
“When you really believe in something heart and soul, other people have no choice but to start to believe in, too”
When you believe in something, that energy is apparent to everyone else around you, too. Everytime you have to coach you need to be on fire; do it like it is the last time. If you want your athlete to be enthusiastic you need to be more enthusiastic. Lead by example!”
“People want to be led by others who “walk the walk” and embody the values which they preach”
Being authentic also means to be real. Find your passion and purpose and only then you will be ready to transmit your knowledge and ideas to other people. Be consistent and clear about your direction. Never pretend to be something you’re not. Being real will gain you much more respect than trying to put on a show and constantly adopting a false persona for the sake of impressing someone else or trying to gain respect. Authenticity will earn trust; embrace your own unique gifts and abilities.
“When we have a trusting relationship with our athletes, we don’t light a flame in them, we burn with them, stoking their embers in an incredibly powerful way” Brett Bartholomew
To gain trust you need to show that you care first. “If you want to be a real coach you have to be more enthusiastic about someone other than yourself” Martin Rooney
“People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care”
The role of a coach is multifaceted ; the roles and responsibilities of today’s coaches extend far beyond that of designing and implementing training programs. If you are a coach and you are currenlty reading this, then keep this in mind: “Do everything in your power to bring out the best in someone else”.
If you are an athlete or a client don’t forget to choose your coach wisely. Many coaches have a six pack or can impress you by leaving you out of breath after every session. But that’s not the main goal of a coach: “Everyone can make you tired, not everyone can make you better” (Michale Boyle). The integration of professional knowledge, how well a coach connects with others, and how open they are to continued learning and self-reflection, that will determine how effective and successful a coach is.
“Know yourself. Know your athletes. Build buy-in. You’ll not only create better athletes in the process, but you’ll create better people, too” Brett Bartholomew