Note: This article is in three parts. The first article looks at the relationship of the training plan and the way it is coached. The second article focuses on improving the coaching side of the process. You can find Part 1 here.
The two sides of coaching that I talked about in Part 1 are both challenging to improve. Here is an outline of the ways that you can best improve on the coaching side of things:
The best place to improve your coaching is to, well, coach. Hours and hours have to be spent in the weight room evaluating lifts, giving movement cues, interacting with athletes, and learning to deal with the varied rigors of coaching. Without this time, you won’t have any exposure to the multitude of situations that can present themselves in the midst of your shift in the training facility. This experience is absolutely essential to bettering your abilities as a coach. This experience can come from working as a coach, interning, and volunteering. Any of these will help to get you the valuable experience you need. (EDIT: Howard Gray has a great post about this on his blog).
The next thing you can work on to improve your coaching is to talk to other coaches. Ask them about their coaching philosophy, or what they think works for them. Ask for tips, or for how to deal with situations you are having problems with. Ask your other coaches you work with to observe and provide feedback on how you coach athletes. Having other coaches evaluate your own technique can help too. This technique instruction can give you another perspective that you may not have gotten otherwise.
Read Read Read! There is a plethora of information out there for you to digest and improve your coaching ability. You can find high quality books, blogs, articles and videos that can improve your abilities. Check out the list of websites I have on the “Coaching and Training Resources” link on the right side of the page. Here are a couple of books about interactions with people that should most definitely be on your bookshelf. Try them out:
“How to Win Friends and Influence People” by Dale Carnegie
This is an absolute classic on improving your relationships with people. This was written in 1937, but is still extremely relevant and insightful.
“Reading People: How to Understand People and Predict Their Behavior–Anytime, Anyplace” by Jo-Ellan Dimitrius and Wendy Patrick Mazzarella
Don’t let the title fool you. This isn’t a clandestine mind-reading book; instead it gives the reader powerful insight into the non-verbal messages that people give.
Finally, you must be constantly be re-evaluating how you do things. The moment that you believe your skill as a coach is “good enough” is the moment that you begin to regress. Training methods, sports research, and innovators in the field constantly revamp the Sports Performance field. If you stop progressing and evolving your abilities, the rest of this field will leave you in the dust. Keep in mind as well that everyone has something to offer you. The intern you just hired, the athlete you are working with, and the sports coach whose team you are working with all have something valuable you can benefit from- new perspective. Your journey as a coach will take you a long way, and you must be improving every step of the way. You owe it to yourself, and you owe it to the athletes you coach.
Expect Part 3 within a week or so.