Coaching — Yesterday or Tomorrow?

Coaching is tough. Coaching is especially tough in this day and age. With the abundance of information at our fingertips and the increasing number of experts and gurus daily, it is nearly impossible to blaze your own trail towards a successful career.

I would rather be a coach 75 years in the past. Many of the sciences imbedded in modern coaching were not present or in their infancy, information was essentially limited to things called books kept in buildings called libraries, and self-proclaimed experts were not privy to as much exposure.

Coach Dan Pfaff with Triple Jumper Josh Honeycutt at World Athletics Center in Phoenix, AZ, USA

I would rather be a coach 75 years in the future. Many of today’s questions will be answered, information will be readily available AND organized, and the athletes will be performing at an all time high.

As an example, I have recently embarked on a quest to better understand eccentric muscle contractions and their role in sport performance. For every article I read, I add another 5–10 to my list. It is completely overwhelming and a never-ending cycle.

So how do young coaches get ahead?

The key is to find a suitable mentor or mentors. A guide to lead you down the right trail. Not someone who will carry your food and water, construct your shelter, and apply your sunscreen. Rather, someone who will point you in the right direction, right your path when you fall off course, and plant ideas and notions that you can harvest.

This process can be broken down into 4 stages: Recognize, Analyze, Experiment, Synthesize

You must recognize good coaches; individuals who have had repeated success over time. You must weed out those who are good salespeople and marketers and find the ones who coach with a passion and a driving force not easily understood by outsiders. Those who strive for continued success and development and for whom coaching is a lifestyle.

You must analyze the aspects of those individuals’ work. The art and the science. What works for them and what doesn’t work for them? What may work for you and what probably will not work for you? Why, why, why?
Take the good, leave the bad, tweak things accordingly. This is the experimentation stage. Apply what you have learned within your environment and with your own style and abilities. Gain experience.

As your experiences grow in numbers, synthesize your ideas and begin to develop a philosophy. As you begin to piece together this philosophy it is imperative that you reflect on your experiences and learn from them. Attempt to answer the why’s and form new hypothesis.

In order to continue to grow and develop as a coach you must realize this is not a sequential process. You must continually be prepared to recognize good coaching. You must constantly analyze the tactics of others. You must continuously experiment within your programming. You must consistently synthesize and reflect on your philosophy and coaching.