I delivered a session last night at the North East Strength and Conditioning Forum. I was opening up the topic of what makes a good S&C coach and challenging the group to answer the following questions:
1. Do you need to demonstrate the drill/exercise to be a good coach?
2. Do you need a variety of coaching styles to tackle a range of clients? (Young - Old, Male - Female, Able Bodied - Disabled, Team - Individual, High Performance - Average Joe)
3. Is it our job to motivate...are we entertainers, motivators or coaches?
4. How do we get our clients 'focused', 'switched on'?
5. Is there a right or wrong way to coach?
The discussions that followed each question were very good and it was great to see everyone parking their ego's at the door and voicing their opinions. At the end I asked each coach for one piece of coaching advice.
Here are the responses (some may seem obvious, but we often overlook the obvious!):
1. Always try to choose methods that will work best, not just what might the easiest or most convenient.
2. Recognise that all athletes are individuals with different motivations.
3. Relate sessions to upcoming goals.
4. Get to know the athlete, train them for what they need to be not what you want them to be.
5. Always maintain a fun element.
6. Treat the athletes with respect - as you would expect them to treat you.
7. Be able to coach a skill in more than one way.
8. Educate the athletes as to why they are doing what they are doing.
9. Try being coached yourself to experience an athletes perspective.
10. Be reflective on your practice/sessions.
11. Start sessions the way you mean to carry on.
12. Don't get sued (if what you are coaching is so dangerous that it could result in a court case then maybe you need to change your programme!)
13. Stick to core principles and philosophies but be flexible within them (big rocks).
14. Use simple but effective progressions
15. Athletes will respect the coach through the coach's example and behaviour
16. Don't change too much at once - try not to be overly innovative.
17. Don't give all coaching cues at once - and not during sets/reps. Wait til recovery and pin point 2/3 (max) coaching points
Going back to the 5th question - Is there a right or wrong way to coach? In my opinion - absolutely.
Coaching is a process and you need to adapt your coaching to suit the athlete/client/situation.
If you only have one style you will be limited.