How do I become a better coach?
I think this is an excellent question for every coach to reflect on ervery so often. I'd add "What am I doing today that is making me a better coach?" Hint - it's more than just sets and reps.
The job of a coach is so varied, regardless of what sport you coach. there are some subject areas which you need to have a good knowledge of (not necessarily an expert, but good knowledge). This was one of those realisations I came to on my journey as a coach, training someone in their sport is the more straight forward part... coaching someone, well that's an altogether different matter. Training is a neck down thing while coaching is a neck up thing.
Some say that coaching is an art, and others say it's a science...well it's both. It's the art of applying the science, not just in terms of how to bring about a change in the body, but also in the mind of the athlete.
Here are some simple steps to becoming a better coach (I had to think back to my coaching journey, and also include what I would do differently to improve):
1. Be a student of your craft
This goes for athletes as well but in the coaches case, never stop learning, and by that I mean more than just reading or watching Youtube, go to Masterclasses in your sport, learn from other in your sport.
2. Observe other coaches:
Most other coaches would welcome someone coming to visit and share ideas. It's a great way to network and expand your knowledge. Take time to observe the coaches rather than the athletes. As part of this, encourage other coaches to come and observe your sessions. The feedback you can get from this is an awesome personal development opportunity. And don't just limit this to your own sport, go and observer other sports, you never know you could get a "light bulb" moment.
3. Get comfortable in front of the camera:
On a recent coaching course I went on, to complete the course successfully, you had to produce 2 videos of yourself coaching. Now for those who are uncomfortable in front of the camera, this is a great way to critique yourself and see what you do as a coach, and the more times you do it, the less you'll notice the camera and the more you'll notice your nuances and how much you check for understanding, and how well you explain things - this was the best thing for my coaching, it taught me that not everyone understands what I mean no matter how well I think I've explained it (it made sense in my head).
4. Get out and coach:
Nothing beats experience. Coach whoever you can, athletes at different levels of their sport. From your junior athletes to weekend warriors to elite athletes, there is something to be learned from coaching all of theses different groups. Make your experience varied.
5. Read more varied coaching material:
This would be articles and books related to coaching and leadership but not necessarily related to your sport. Again variety is key, there is so much that can be learned from other sports. Material that goes beyond sets and reps is where the gold is at...
6. Develop relationships, don't be one dimensional:
For a long time I was so focused on my coaching and wanting to 'get it right'that I think I lost some people along the way.
The bottom line here is essentially, don't stop learning, look for other informal environments to learn through, and remember, you can learn just as much from your athletes as they can from you...
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