Coaching is an art, a skill, and a constant case of behavioral science. A good coach needs to be a good scientist. He or she must take careful notes through observation and constantly test out hypotheses. To get an athlete to improve is a serious responsibility. The coach must incorporate different environments, various motivations, and a specific set of tools to ensure the athlete can reach their maximum potential.
It takes 10,000 hours to master a particular skill. So they say. This involves patience while you learn from every mistake. You will not do it right all the time. Take notes of each workout and conversations you have with your athletes. How are you communicating and executing your plan? Is it well received?
What are you teaching? Are you teaching? Regardless of the level you coach, you must reinforce the basics everyday. Do you know the basics? You should be a student of your sport. Learn the science behind each movement (Newton’s Laws of Motion, Kinesiology, energy systems of the body, the Central Nervous System, hydration, nutrition, specific race plans). Take your new knowledge and apply it in light of your goal for the athlete and season. Observe and report. Remember you are a scientist just as much as a motivational speaker. Read, listen, and take someone out for lunch to learn from their experiences. (I personally have a goal to take 3 coaches out to lunch/coffee a year. This has helped my training philosophy greatly).
There is such a thing as too much. Know when to stop. Under training is better then over training. Have a plan, but keep it simple. The more complicated the workout or training plan will call for a complicated explanation. The athlete may lose what you are trying to have them achieve in their training. This loss in translation can make or break a workout and season.
A simple Google search will bring a long list of activities one can do to get better (for example, 400m workouts by Clyde Hart or Jim Bush). If every coach did this, wouldn’t everyone be successful? Only you know your culture, school, team, and athlete. The big question here is how does it all fit in with what you are trying to accomplish. It is the task of the coach to write a meaningful training regimen with this big picture in mind. The coach is preparing the athlete to succeed at the highest level in and during competition. Do not waste practice and be intentional with every minute you have in regards to your overall goal. This takes planning and preparation.
The best coach learns how each athlete learns.
Then they meet them there.
Next post: The Art of Coaching Part Two - Demonstration, Memory, Vision Plan