Dear Coach Educator:
Thanks for your time and passion. Without you, many of us would be stuck using the same techniques (which aren’t all bad) that our grandfathers used. More importantly we would probably be using them without knowing how, when and why.
Your courses and feedback are typically all most of us get in the way of professional development, so please know how critical your role is in the coaching landscape.
First of all, when we’re engaged in a course please don’t assume we automatically want to coach on the professional stage. Some of us do, but there are many of us who are passionate about coaching in certain developmental areas. We may be working to be the best "high performance" under 10 coach we can be. If your structure doesn’t look like this,
consider a change.
While we're on courses, please don’t think the technical, tactical, physical and mental aspects of our knowledge the most important. Yes, it is an important baseline to attain but it isn’t the difference. Most of us can find that technique, drill or research study within a few seconds on Google or YouTube. It is not the information that separates us, but our use of it.
Let’s get the basics right and then let’s spend the rest of the time talking about manipulating constraints, building culture and competition, and using effective communication for feedback. If you arm us with ways to drive engagement and excitement in our environment then we promise to use the information from that bio-mechanical study one day.
We understand we need to coach implicitly, but remember that those athletes that were taught explicitly years ago have probably been given the textual building blocks to become our better coaches now (as long as they understand the explicit/implicit). To develop those coaches scroll back up to the last paragraph!
Know that a very large percentage of our athletes will not become professionals in their sport. Definitions of success vary greatly and it isn’t necessarily the coach’s job to define. We need your help to arm our charges with the tools for them achieve their own definitions of success. We are dedicate ourselves so they can reflect with pride on the challenges they've overcome 20, 30, 40 or 50 years from now. The race is long.
Broaden our options. If we are as ambitious as we say, create opportunities for us to be challenged and to fail. Nothing dulls ambition like looking around and realizing, or being told, you’ve reached the pinnacle of your profession prematurely.
Please don’t grade us solely by how we perform, or performed, a skill in the sport. We’d like to be graded, among other things, on how well we can get an athlete to execute a skill under pressure. Don’t cheapen our knowledge and methods. On that thought, if you're giving recognition of prior learning (RPL) to someone who played the sport at a certain level, please realise that you are recognising athletic experience and not coaching experience.
If you were hired because you’re in the twilight of your coaching, or playing career and you don’t have the energy to enthuse us, congratulations you have achieved redundancy! If you’re not excited about the content neither are we. Remember you exist to improve coaching and coaches, so that we improve athletes and teams. If it won’t help our athletes, it doesn’t help us.
RELATED: Dear Former Athlete
Speaking of redundancy, please support us to work toward it. Sometimes we get caught up in retaining an athlete to support our ego, justify our job or pad our bank account, but with some thought, we’d prefer not to suffocate our athletes. Our job is to maximize their improvement whether it requires us specifically or not.
Finally, the dictionary defines a mentor as one who is chosen by a protégé to transfer knowledge, wisdom, and experience. Your use of mentors should be the same. You cannot choose our mentor for us. It is a relationship and unless you’re RSVP.com or eHarmony, leave it to us.
Yours in development.
David Hodge has seen coach development structured, re-structured, and re-branded, but would like to see it refreshed. Follow him on twitter @CoachDavidHodge or email him directly Dave@propelperform.com