Friday, March 13, 2009

What Do You Want to Learn?

When interviewing potential rookie coaching candidates I ask questions about what they would like to learn to become a better coach. Hopefully they have an answer or else it’s a very short conversation. I need to know they have a passion for this field and learning. They have to have been doing some reading beyond school work and something needs to have sparked their interest.

The follow-up question is along the lines of, “if you could go anywhere and learn from anyone, what would you do to become a better coach?” I expect an answer. Seldom do I get good ones. When I get, "I don't know, I've been busy in school." I can be pretty sure this person is not deeply passionate about this field of coaching.

In a rookie coach I am not really judging who they want to learn from or the specific topic. I want to know they are already interested in this field and know some of the players. I don’t even hold it as a major strike when all they can name are internet gurus who are selling products (at least they are on the internet looking at the field).

For a more senior coach, the topics, the areas of interest, and the approach become more important. I am searching for them to have a philosophy that is complimentary, views that will help us grow as a team, and that they are intelligent and engaged. I am really hoping to find coaches who are looking to not just improve their science knowledge, but improve their Art of Coaching.

All the best coaches I know are always learning from others. Others in this field and others outside of it. I have a long list and its diverse in its settings, expertise and industries. From sport coaches who have built winning programs, to motor control experts who are on the cutting edge of how we control movement , to marketing experts who know about how to get a message across to people. All can help me become a better coach.

So this begs the questions, where would you go and who would you look to grow as a coach? Figure out the answer and do the best you can to get there.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Got Big Rocks?

In First Things First, Stephen Covey tells a great story:
One day an expert in time management was speaking to a group of business students. As he stood in front of the group of high-powered overachievers he said, "Okay, time for a quiz."

He then pulled out a one-gallon, widemouthed Mason jar and set it on the table. He produced about a dozen fist-sized rocks and carefully placed them one at a time into the jar. When the jar was filled to the top and no more rocks would fit inside, he asked, "Is this jar full?" Everyone in the class said, "Yes." Then he said, "Really?" He reached under the table and pulled out a bucket of gravel. Then he dumped some gravel in and shook the jar causing it to work down into the space between the big rocks.

Then he asked the group once more, "Is the jar full?" By this time the class was on to him. "Probably not," one of them answered. "Good!" he replied. He reached under the table and brought out a bucket of sand and started dumping the sand in the jar until it filled the spaces left between the rocks and the gravel.

Once more he asked the question, "Is this jar full?" No!" the class shouted. Once again he said, "Good." Then he grabbed a pitcher of water and began to pour it in until the jar was filled to the brim. Then he looked at the class and asked, "What is the point of this illustration?"

One eager beaver raised his hand and said, "The point is, no matter how full your schedule is, if you try really hard you can always fit some more things in it!"

"No," the speaker replied, "that's not the point." "The truth this illustration teaches us is that if you don't put the big rocks in first, you'll never get them in at all."

What are the 'big rocks' in your life? Your children, your loved ones, your education, your dreams, a worthy cause, teaching others, doing things that you love, your health; your mate. Remember to put these BIG ROCKS in first or you'll never get them in at all. If you sweat about the little stuff then you'll fill your life with little things and you'll never have the real quality time you need to spend on the big, important stuff."

I use this outlook as well as we approach training our athletes. There are a lot of rocks out there as training tools. Technique drills, Olympic lifts, plyos, video analysis, "corrective" exercises, core training, kettlebells, etc...

Our athletes however have a limited capacity of time and energy. This is their jar. There may be a place for all of those training methods with your athlete, but which ones are the most important? Which ones hit the primary qualities you need to develop? Which ones give you more bang for the buck because they address multiple qualities at one time? The drills and exercises that meet that requirement are your "Big Rocks".

Get them in first. After thats programmed in and accomplished you can add in all the other things. If you do the other stuff first, you might never get those Big Rocks in.