Thursday, June 17, 2010

Art of Coaching; Know What you Don't Know

As a performance coach today you may be asked to help in the areas of strength training, rehab, conditioning, core training, tissue quality, biomechanics, and more.  There is lots to know.

Face it now; you'll never be an expert in all of them.

I often see young coaches doing this and they get caught when they don't really know.  They want to answer, but need to learn to say, "I don't know."  Tell people what you know, then go do some research and learn something.  This is where most of your real learning will come from.  School just gives you the tools to do that research and think critically.

Recently I was working with a head ATC who did this.  I was pissed off, because it involved the area of concussions.  This is a critical issue involving player safety.  If you don't know, DON'T FAKE IT.  Have the guts to put your ego aside and ask someone.

To be a master coach you need to develop wisdom.  Wisdom doesn't mean knowing all the answers. 

Understanding these various fields, and having experiences in them will make you better.  Spending time as a student athletic trainer and in a sports medicine setting made me a better performance coach.  Still, I wouldn't for a second think I could do a better shoulder eval than an experienced and educated ATC.  I studied biomechanics in grad school, but wouldn't think I know better than my friend John Garhammer

Learn your strengths and weaknesses.  Learn to ask others for their expertise.  If you are part of a team of professionals, respect and learn from them.  Even the superheroes always have to use each others' strengths to overcome the villains.  You don't have to do it all alone.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Training Your Coaching Eye

A key skill for a sports performance coach is being able to analyze movements.  You have to watch an athlete move and make a mental comparison to the technical model in your head.  To do this effectively you have to develop your ability to watch for certain types of detail in relatively high speed movements.

So how do you develop this skill?  Your Coaching Eye.  You deliberately watch sports movements.  Not casual watching of the movement, but focused, and analytical observation.

Just as there is the concept of 10,000 hours in mastering a skill, the same applies here.  You have to watch movements tens of thousands of times.  If you are a performance coach this may means thousands of starts, accelerations, max velocity runs, cuts, jumps, stops to start.  Then add cleans, squats, snatches, Bulgarian split squats and on and on.  It's a long list.

It's easy to be disheartened by the volume. Don't be.

The good news is that developing your eye in one helps with the others.  Part of doing this is actual visual skill, much is cognitive processing, and part is learning that specific movement.  The dist two, visual and cognitive, carry over to other movements to some degree. 

Where do you get your reps?  First of all coaching your own athletes.  Then while observing others coaching.  Still, this might take a while to get to a master level.  plus, what if you don't get to see all the movements in your setting?

How about when watching sports? Instead of watching the game, pick a player and watch their movement whether in the play or off the ball.  Watch it with a critical eye and analyze what you see.

Hows your video collection?  DVDs of elite sports events are a great source to develop your eye.  Video clips abound on the Internet, good and bad.  If you have access to Dartfish or similar software, you can increase your learning even more.

By using Dartfish, our coaches get to watch the same movement more than once.  They can slow it down, or go frame by frame.  This allows them to see the details.  Then they can go back to full speed and try to see it in the action.

The question is; are you developing your coaching eye?