Saturday, December 15, 2012

What Makes a Good Coach?

Coaches,most readers I'm sure have had one at some time in their lives,perhaps some of you do now.A coach can make a lasting impression on an athlete,hopefully that impression is a good one.Unfortunately,nothing can destroy a love for athletics like a bad coach.
As we get older and become parents we want our children be guided by intelligent,sensitive coaches.
A very good coach,Joe Vigil,provides some criteria below as to what constitutes a good coach.After some of his criteria I will offer a comment or two.
1. "A coach must be thoughtful and imaginative."
How true. He must be able to assess and evaluate his athletes and make changes accordingly.
2. "A coach will act as a tutor initially, and then eventually allow the athlete to introduce his/her ideas into the plan."
This is especially so for the older,more experienced athlete,this belief was also advocated by both Cerutty and Lydiard.
3. "A coach must have good technical and practical knowledge in all aspects of running."
Not as common an attribute in distance running coaches as you might think.
4. "A coach must be able to communicate this knowledge and experience to the athlete."
What did Cerutty once say: if the coach can't do it,he can't teach it? Perhaps it would be better to say,if the coach hasn't done it,can he teach it?
5."The athlete and coach eventually become a team and share in all aspects of training and proper direction for living."
This is the ideal coach,I think of the late John Wooden among others.
6. "A coach must be able to assess ability and determine a person's potential."
No easy task,it's a skill,some call it a gift.
7. "A coach should inspire, motivate and lead the athlete in all training and competition."
And,a coach should support an athlete and offer only constructive criticism when they do not perform up to expectations.
8. "A coach must never use athletes to further his/her own reputation."
A great point,the coach often takes the credit for the success of his athlete but never takes the blame when they're injured,often habitually.
9. "A coach must be absolutely honest so that the athlete may be able to rely on his/her decisions."
A no-brainer,the world has seen enough of dishonest coaches,particularly on the professional level.
10."An athlete must respect the coach's experience and judgement just as the coach must respect the athlete's ability and determination."
11. "The coach and athlete must get along well,both on and off the track.It is vital to enjoy a good laugh together as well as discuss the technical aspects of training and racing."
It's because of these kinds of relationships that athletes talk about their coaches for decades after.
12. "A coach should be a guide,philosopher and friend.He/She must be positive and always constructive with criticism."
Amen to that! We need more coaches like this today,thoughtful,sensitive and philosophical.
13. "A coach must be enthusiastic and easy to talk to.This enthusiasm should be infectious and should lead to greater training and racing."
Yes! Leave having a fear of your coach to football and other such sports,this type of coach has no place in distance running.
14. "Above all, remember that if a good coach can stimulate an athlete, so can an athlete stimulate a coach to good coaching practices."
I'm sure lots of you recall the teams you've been on that had an energy when you were at practice,it seemed to flow back and forth between team members and the coach.
If you have,or have had a good coach,be thankful,they are not as common as you think they are.

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