An article went up a while back on Huffington Post on the subject of coaching. It includes 35 “secrets”. They are generally worth looking through, but I wanted to address a few of them specifically.
6. Begin with the end in mind. This is all about knowing your priorities, which I’ve written about a couple of different times before (here and here to name two). You can’t map your course if you don’t know where you’re going!
14. Give feedback in short, clear, precise, action-oriented spurts. Coaches need to keep in mind that they aren’t lecturers – at least not when they are on the court. The more you talk, the less they train. You need to keep your interruptions short, to the point, and geared toward what the players need to do.
15. Are careful about how they measure success. This is a tricky one. The focus is meant to be on keeping things process oriented rather than outcome focused. That’s fine in general terms, especially since outcome depends on a lot of things out of our control. Unfortunately, as coaches we sometimes (oftentimes) have wins and losses as the key metric of our own success. We need to be able manage things from both perspectives.
27. End practice before the athlete is exhausted. Mark Lebedew, in a post from At Home on the Court, talks about something related to this. From a technical training perspective, it doesn’t make a lot of sense to exhaust our players. Granted, conditioning is a different story, but in that case priorities must be clear. This is something that you probably need to communicate to your athletes. Some of them will feel their level of fatigue at the end of a session equates to session quality.
34. Understand that fun is an essential element in training, no matter how elite an athlete becomes. In the grand scheme of things, players definitely need to have fun training for and playing their sport. I would argue, though, that as coaches we sometimes have to put our players and teams under pressure in less than fun kinds of ways to help them grow and develop. I periodically will design a session that I know is likely to be frustrating because those sorts of things happen in matches and the players need to learn how to overcome it.
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