There is an abundance of passionate coaches with superior technical, tactical and physical skills, yet so many who still lack that critical holistic approach that would keep them ahead of the curve in the fast-changing world of sport. With every coach achieving results in a slightly different way, what makes someone a truly great coach?
As basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski once said "a common mistake among those who work in sport is spending a disproportional amount of time on 'x's and 'o's compared to time spent learning about people." How can you ensure you're maximising your coaching and mentoring programmes and focusing on the 'who' rather than the 'what'?
Our work with elite national and international level coaches has highlighted some key themes that separate the best from the rest.
Who are you working with?
What do you know about the person behind the athletic exterior? What are their motivators and communication preferences? Are they aware of the impact they have on others?
Thomas are passionate about empowering both self-awareness and awareness of others and a combination of the two is powerful. In order to understand your athletes, you must first be able to understand yourself. Why do you behave and communicate the way you do?
Behavioural profiling uncovers the preferred characteristics of yourself and your athlete, offering you the opportunity to develop a deeper understanding of your impact on others, as well as that of your athletes. Emotional intelligence assessments can help them to dig even deeper to uncover where behaviours and motivators originate from.
Instead of assuming that your athletes will buy into your philosophy, or that your core training style works for all, an increased self-awareness and understanding of others will allow you to consider how each athlete prefers to communicate and compare this to your own preferences, creating an open and trusting environment that works for everyone.
Are you compatible?
Why not take this one step further and discover your compatibility with your athletes, coaching peers or mentors. Do you share common ground? Are there potential frustrations which are likely to surface?
Through a comparitive analysis of the behaviours on display within a team or coaching relationship, you might uncover a need to modify your behaviour in order to maximise the performance of both yourself and your athletes or coaches. This reflection could change the way you and your athlete train and ultimately perform.
Don’t forget feedback!
Evaluation – of both athlete and coach – is a critical element for further development and success. Each individual must share responsibility for self-improvement and be accountable for the roles they play. For a sports coach to be truly effective with everyone they work with, they must be open to feedback and willing to challenge themselves in their approach and management of their athletes.
Empower your athletes to share their ideas and help find their own solutions, actively listen to the real (emotional) message in their responses and challenge them to give you feedback. The best ideas (for them) are likely to be hidden in their heads, not yours!
Feedback doesn't have to be intimidating! With the right tools, this analysis can be objective and non-confrontational and should always involve a two-way feedback loop. 360 degree feedback provides a powerful and insightful overview of performance and can be used in both athlete and coaching development discussions to uncover potential areas for improvement or enhancement.
The common theme here is adaptability, understanding and the ability to take a holistic approach. These competencies, on top of traditional coaching techniques and physical skills, can truly make the difference between a good coach and a great one.