Sunday, January 23, 2011

On Coaching

Webster defines a coach as “one who instructs or trains – one who instructs players in the fundamentals of a competitive sport and directs team strategy”. To coach, the verb form of coach, is defined as “to instruct, direct, or prompt as a coach – to train intensively (as by instruction and demonstration)”.

Interestingly enough, there are 10 characteristics of highly successful coaches. This is direct from the US Olympic Committee Coaching Developing Department.

  1. Committed to individual integrity, values, and personal growth.
  2. Profound thinkers who see themselves as educators, not just coaches.
  3. Well-educated (formally and informally) in a liberal arts tradition.
  4. Long-run commitment to their athletes and their institution.
  5. Willing to experiment with new ideas.
  6. Value the coach-player relationship, winning aside.
  7. Understand and appreciate human nature.
  8. Love their sport and work.
  9. Honest and strong in character.
  10. Human and therefore imperfect.

Additional characteristics may be that the coach:

  1. Knows the sport
  2. Seeks out new information
  3. Is a motivator
  4. Knows the athlete's capabilities
  5. Is an effective communicator
  6. Is a good listener
  7. Is disciplined
  8. Leads by example
  9. Displays commitment

These are just some of the characteristics. A good coach, obviously does not have to exhibit all of these characteristics, but at least many. And some may be more important than others. Some, without the others, may not make for a good coach, while some without the others would still make for a good coach. It is also what it going to have the most impact on the individual being coached – what is needed.

Another thing to think about is that a good coach for you in the beginning of your athletic endeavors may not be the best coach for you as you advance in your skills and knowledge. Throughout your athletic career, as your goals and abilities change, you may need to change coaches.

It is important to understand what you need, as an athlete, to ensure you are getting the most out of your abilities. Knowing what you need from a coach is critical in evaluating whether or not you are receiving the best coaching for your current abilities and future goals.

Since my CrossFit training began, I have had several coaches. Where I started is a far distance back from where I am now. The coaches who have helped me along my way have all been invaluable, as they were exactly what I needed at that given point in time. I currently train at CrossFit Phoenix and I am also a coach myself. The coaching I receive is perfect for me. I am challenged to push my abilities by a coach who knows where I am currently in my abilities, and where I might be able to go. I am also able to learn additional skills that increase my abilities as a coach. The coaching I receive exemplifies the characteristics listed above, as I strive to improve and do the same. For me, this is exactly where I need to be, at this given point in time.

Are you where you need to be? Are you getting the best possible coaching that you can get, for where you are in your athletic endeavors? What are your goals? What are you willing to do to achieve them? Do you need to make some changes or are you on track? You may not need to make changes at this time. That is fine – I’m not saying everyone needs to change now. Just think about what you are getting, and if it is what you need at this point.

Post your thoughts to Comments.

As a footnote... I challenge those of you who are coaches to strive to meet these characteristics and bring out the best in those you coach.


Robin B said...

Hi Lauriel, I just discovered and read your entire blog. It is great! I saw you at the Flagstaff competition in Dec. I was on crutches hanging out with the EVCF crew. I really appreciate all the thoughtful questions you pose, from why should I push myself to more nominal thoughts, like workout faces. (I have one too, but mine is a grimace that people mistake for a smile when i have sunglasses on.) Keep up the cool blog.

Lauriel said...

Thanks Robin! i've noticed my workout face is changing, from time to time. But i don't like where it is going! i keep catching myself with my tongue hanging out! Yikes!