Tuesday, June 1, 2010

The Master at Work

Leonardo da Vinci was a Master.  He was a master of both Art & Science.  Paintings, sculpture, engineering, anatomy, military tactics.  What an amazing mind.  To become a master coach we need to develop our skills in both the art & science of coaching athletes.

As I walked through an exhibit at the Getty Museum on Leonardo this past weekend, I was amazed by all of the work that preceded a masterpiece.  There pages and pages of studies.  Studies may focus on a single body part, or a certain part of a bigger work of art.  In many cases da Vinci spent weeks, months or even years on the preparation for a work of art.  Pages after pages of notes, ideas, drawings to prepare.  While many see the finished work, the preparation is behind the scenes.

One of the skills in coaching that is often lost is the planning stages.  Once you have some confidence and knowledge, you can easily walk out and "wing it" on many training sessions.  I know I have fallen into this trap at times.

The problems arise in several ways.  For one you can get caught with your pants down when things don't go as well as they could have because you didn't have a plan.  Secondly, you can't move toward your bigger goals if they aren't planned out and you look at how this session fits in and supports the bigger goals.  Lastly, you won't learn from the session as much.

Planning a training session makes a difference.  Its a battle plan that lets you be prepared and lets you review.  The planning itself may be the most important part.  Its the act of thinking about what your overall strategy, detailing the tactics and execution for the day, and using your coaching art to make it fit together to create a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts.

Sometimes I've seen coaches feel like needing a plan is demeaning or "rookie."  If a master like da Vinci spent this much time planning and preparing, I'd feel pretty good about doing it as well.