Coaching Generation Y

By: Kelvin B. Giles MA, Cert.Ed
From: Movement Dynamics
Article site link: Movement Dynamics 
PDF Link: Coaching Generation Y

We live in an age where we all chase ‘best-practice’, whether in sport, the corporate sector or the community at large. Much is written by the world’s leading lights and we all look for those words of wisdom, supported by research and expounded with the jargon of today. I fully understand that what I attempt to set out here is probably verging on heresy, uncalled for under the spotlight of modern day coaching methodology and certainly not backed up by any research. To be honest I don’t care. I am doing what my Dad did and his father before him – I am speaking my mind as an ‘old-fart’ who the current generation of athletes, coaches, scientists and administrators will not give any time to at all.

Nicole Jeffery wrote an intriguing article in the Australian in early 2007 entitled “Coaching the Why Generation” where she outlined the changes in our current generation of developing athletes. This generation, apparently, are bringing different needs and values to the table and as such we, as coaches, should understand and accommodate them in their needs. Offering different coaching methods and structures, appeasing their need for ‘quick training and competition results’ and getting them involved in the decision making because the “new breed will not accept that the coach is always right’ were statements in the article that illustrated the psycho-social changes we all face. This new generation are ‘outcome-focused’
and therefore need to know all the reasons for why they are doing things in their training; especially those parts of training that are uncomfortable.

Sports science has been the major consumer of physical and financial resources in all national sporting strategies around the world. This arm of the sports development world has given us wonderful guidance in ‘best practice’ in the biomechanical, physiological and psychological aspects of high performance attainment. Without doubt this section of the sporting community has made us all question our assumptions and certainly given us a heap of measurements to put into our daily coaching practice. We can, or are expected to, measure just about everything from RPE’s (Ratio of Perceived Exertion – how tired are the poor dears?) to how far and at what velocity did they run today using Global Positioning Satellite data.

I am just completing my 40th year in coaching. I have experienced the trials and tribulations of this profession from my days as a teacher through to the heady heights of Olympic finals and Championship winning football finals. I have embraced sports science, the computer age and all the waffle that goes with establishing those previously mentioned National Performance Strategies (the reams of ‘warm and fuzzy’ words, the copious diagrams and flow-charts etc). I think that I have reached the stage of having to finally own up to the fact that I have grave misgivings about where we are heading in all this.

When did we all give in to this ‘welfare state’ stuff where the athlete is concerned? When did we appease the weak-minded or the athlete that simply wants something for nothing or will only commit if the reward is high enough? When did we as coaches stop doing it because we loved it and gave up on the lengthy apprenticeship we all must serve before being paid for it? My problem is that I still have in me some of the traits that I learned from the adults that surrounded me as I grew from childhood to being an adult. All the adults around me in my formative years were my teachers, my teachers in behaviours and values. They had been forced to endure the unspeakable Hades of war where their fortitude and courage were tested on a daily basis. They were stoic and resilient and in the post-war period they suffered from a lack of just about everything that we take for granted today. We were, or are, the ‘baby-boomers’ and those of us who have not completely capitulated to the slothful, greed driven, easy living needs of today may still have something to contribute.

If this ‘Y’ generation are as described then we seem to have two ways to approach them. We can either appease their weaknesses or we can retain a grasp on some of these fundamental traits of human-kind that have seen us survive hardship.

It is only a decade ago that I was heavily involved with the Brisbane Broncos Rugby League Club and I reflect on this period of my professional life as an illustration of the changes that have accelerated us towards this potential mediocrity. At that time the playing staff held down full-time jobs outside their sport. Many of them spent the day in physical labour as plumbers and concreters or at the docks scrubbing down the hulls of ships. They would turn up for training, on time, covered in the dust and dirt of their daily grind. No RPE’s for them, no complaints from them either. They got on with their work and gave us the very best they had every session, every week and every year. They got some rest when they had earned it.

No ice-baths, hot & cold showers, massage, special classes of this and that to consume all the available training time – they kept at their trade minute by minute, day by day, week by week in a relentless pursuit of the winning formula. Don’t get me wrong, sports science has unearthed some fabulous examples of recovery methods and I have used them all with significant success. The key issue is that they had better be ‘pushing out the envelope’ to earn these recovery methods. I see too many athletes ‘recovering’ from some very unimpressive levels of fatigue. The Championship winning squads of 1992 and 1993 contained men who overtly displayed fortitude and stoicism.

I had been appointed with one phrase that still burns in my memory, “put some ‘steel’ into them.” My interpretation was that as well as the football speed, strength and endurance components coupled with some decent injury prevention plans that had to be delivered, and delivered better than any of our opposition; the minds of these guys had to be strengthened to be able to overcome both physical and emotional adversity. After all, if you want to be a champion these traits will be sorely tested throughout the campaign. The idea was to give them physical and emotional resources way above what they would experience in a game.

Whatever intensity the opposition brought to the table we had to know that we had reserves that they could never match. The game had to become the easiest part of the week by setting emotional and physical standards so high that we were never at our limits, ever. Don’t for one minute think that I had all the answers to this challenge. I had no text book to turn to or physiological scoring tables to check against. This was ‘seat–of-the-pants stuff’ where I applied the known theories of training and periodisation to the distant echoes of greatness those previous generations had displayed. A hero is not a celebrity, or someone who wins a contest in the sporting arena. A hero is someone who does something extraordinary, against all the odds and with maximum sacrifice. I took the standards that I had been exposed to as a child as a guide to ‘what was possible’ for the Broncos. The bar was set high, the road was a relentless exposure to the real interpretation of attitude commitment and discipline and the players were to be challenged in all aspects of their lives.

In some cases my job was a lot easier than that of my counterparts today. Many of the young men in our charge were hungry for personal and team success, driven by a deep desire to win and carried little or no ‘baggage’ that might keep them from their dreams. The ‘baggage’ I refer to are things like, “What’s in it for me?”, “Is there an easier way?” Of course I tried my best to give them the best balance of training that was well periodised and well thought out but the key issue was to find out how they could develop their ‘mental toughness’, the ability to overcome adversity and for them to accept that whatever dreams they had about winning would have to be earned – and the price would be high, very high.

We can all train athletes hard, that’s not difficult to do. If it was just a matter of giving them horrendous numbers of reps and sets at a high intensity then anyone could do it. The key is to train smart and hard and to know when to take a mighty step forward and when to back off. Here I was in the hands of the players. Don’t get me wrong – I hardly ever asked them for an opinion – I watched closely for all the tell-tale signs of ‘too-much’ or ‘too-little’. Put simply, I got to know them as individuals, to understand when they were giving up due to being weak-willed or when they had really had enough physiologically and psychologically. I put the edge of the physiological envelope lower than the edge of the psychological envelope.

These guys had to take it psychologically, just like my Dad and his fellow battlers of the 1940’s and 50’s. They ‘couldn’t die doing this’ was a typical response to the oft heard cries of complaint and submission. Put another way, I was unfair to them – for a reason. Every missed target, every missed rule, every smart comment, every ‘collapse with feigned exhaustion’, every ‘tactical limp’, was met with a firestorm of reaction. Repetitions and sets of exercises were started again, sessions were started again from scratch, those that gave up were sent home in disgrace to ‘never darken my door again’ or ‘get him out of my sight’. Unfair, unjust, yes, but this scheme always found their weak traits. They could either quit on themselves or the team or find the fortitude and stoicism to get through it. They had no protection from this onslaught; they could not turn to a Players Association to get them off the hook, or go bleating to coach Bennett.

In today’s ‘welfare’ environment none of this would work. Complaints are met with benevolence and charity. People are appeased on their way to mediocrity and they drag a load of other ‘do-gooders’ with them. We continually shift our social standards and accept less and less as being acceptable. Laws are written, agencies resourced and society capitulates to the bleating of the weak.

Championship winning or winning in life, whether doing this as a family, an athlete or in the corporate sector will demand that you survive at the very edge of your psychological, physiological and structural envelope. I believe that these traits are trainable. Maybe it is time to re-visit some of the methods in the light of the current “I want” generation. Why can’t we test out their mettle rather than appease them? Why can’t we expect good behaviour, punctuality, respect? Why do we continue to list all the reasons why an individual can’t achieve something instead of challenging them to do what they think they can’t do. Sports science has given us the tools to help us decide when an athlete should reduce or adjust training so that the training system can be precise. Great, I have tried all this stuff and it works. What I would like to also see as a tool is something that indicates when the athlete should take a ‘leap of faith’ into the unknown, whether this is to do with the psychological or physiological aspects of training. Stop finding all the reasons to “back–off’ training ands give them the tools to go to the dark places that their talent will take them. In other words what are they willing to give-up or sacrifice to improve their current status? What psychological or physiological ‘shock-level” are they willing to experience as the payment for their success.

We often use the words attitude, commitment and discipline as the underpinning requirements of any successful person. The trouble is they are only words and we often award the individual with the trappings of these words without them really earning them. We devalue these words but more importantly we fail to see that they should be used as a result of consistent, repeatable ACTION. I see coaches handing out these words to athletes who try to lead two lives – one life, the shallow simulation of attitude, commitment and discipline when in the training environment and the other one completely the opposite when outside the training environment.

Kelvin Giles is a former UK National and Olympic Track & Field Coach, Inaugural Head Coach at the Australian Institute of Sport, Director of Performance for the Brisbane Broncos Rugby League Club, Director of Strength & Conditioning at the Queensland Academy of Sport and world renowned strategist on modern performance attainment models.

Coach to 14 Olympians he has developed the first progressive exercise system that transports athletes along the development continuum from the Fundamental Training Stage through to the Training to Win Stage.

Experienced in operational reviews and infrastructure development for all layers of the sporting continuum he also consults with Coach Education entities worldwide and is adept at identifying and integrating the human, physical and financial resources necessary for change.


Working as a coach

By: Jean Paul Cortes
Site Link: What is Coaching
Article Link: Working As A Coach

If you've made the decision to be a coach, there are a few things you should know.

Those that have the best information, and that know how to use it, have a better opportunity of getting to the top.

What comes before being a coach?

The first decision you need to make, after you've decided to work as a coach that is, is how you're going to study and learn coaching.

Don't expect to just jump into the field without seeking at least some credentials, training and experience; you could, and you may even find yourself among other people who have done the same, but your chances of being successful are about as good as jumping off a plane without a parachute on.

More and more people that are hiring coaches, now know what to expect from coaching; that's why your education becomes ever more important. And when I say “education,” I don't mean just sitting inside a classroom for formal lessons (that's only part of it). It also includes online training, self-study, experience and even knowledge unrelated to coaching.

How to choose coaching training

Most coach training schools give training in three general ways: live by classroom, online and over the phone. When it come to making a choice between coaching schools, find out if you're going to study in a classroom, on the computer or over the phone via teleconference.

You should also take a look at the courses they're teaching – how many courses you have to take to become a coach? Who are the instructors? What are their qualifications? What materials and support is offered?

Unfortunately, there are many coaching schools out there where you would be flushing your hard earned money down the toilet. Questions like these will help you determine the best, from the rest and will hopefully give you the information needed to avoid losing your time and money.

What do coaches do? A coach is, what a coach does...

Put 100 hundred coaches in a room, and ask them to give you a definition of “coaching,” and you'll get 100 different definitions; it's not really clear to anyone what coaching really is.

It's also the reason why it's much simpler to understand coaching based on what coaches do. Because it's what you do as a coach for other people, which really define coaching:

  • Help your clients clarify and understand their values
  • Act as a sounding board for your client's ideas
  • Lend support to your clients in taking decisions
  • Challenge your clients to identify and clear away limiting beliefs
  • Provide guidance to your clients for creating their life vision
  • Acknowledge, enthuse and encourage your clients towards achieving their goals and desires in an established time frame. 

Depending on the circumstances, you'll probably be doing one, all or many things like these. You can say that as a coach, you are someone that helps produce positive changes in other people's lives.

Why do people look for coaches?

The simple answer is that a good coach can help you get things done in your life.

So you know what coaching is about, it's not about not having problems, it's about getting to know the solutions and discovering and developing the tools you already have or can learn, to get to the solutions.

Where do you find coaches?

There are now coaches in most corporations, in hospitals, government offices and many other areas. More and more people, coming from small businesses to behemoth companies, recognize the importance of coaching to improve in every possible area.

The same is true for other activities, undertakings and ventures that people take on. As you will come to know, coaching is everywhere. There's a reason for that, because you can turn your life experience, your training, knowledge and skills and be one heck of a coach.

How much will you make from being a coach?

There is a lot of opportunity in the coaching business, but no one can tell you how much you will actually make as coach.

If you are serious about coaching, there will come a point when you have to decide how much you want to make and when you do, the following questions might help you:

How much is your knowledge worth?

What experience do you have?

What particular training do you have?

How much do you need to make a living from coaching?

When it comes to your coaching practice, you may also want to take a look at your offering and ask yourself:

Is what I'm charging competitive?

Am I offering great value for the investment people have to make?

The good part is, most coaches tend to make more money with experience.

The longer they coach, the more opportunities exist to increase their income.

What does it take to be a coach?

There are a lot of coaches who may want to spend the majority of their time coaching. And, it may work out for them. Coaching is a business however and as such, there are other things you may want to consider in order for things to run, like how you're going to market and sell your services.

You're not only a coach, you're a business person. If you want to be a professional coach, you're going to have to figure out how to make a living.

Unless you consider taking up coaching as a hobby or have no interest in charging for your services, the sooner you start learning your way around running a business, marketing and salesmanship, the more you'll be prepared to pave your way to success.

How do coaches sell their services?

Most coaches sell their services as a package or program of a number of sessions per month, for one or several months. There are coaches out there charging on a per session basis and those that charge a flat fee rate as well.

Usually, sessions last from 1 to 2 hours on average. You would need to decide what serves your time, income and personal needs to make a decision.

When you're thinking about your services, don't be limited by what is usually offered. There are other options for you to consider that could significantly increase your income. You could offer workshops, webinars, tele-seminars, your own products, affiliate products and a gamut of other things for you to explore.

Working as a coach is challenging, it's also rewarding in many ways not only monetarily. Making sure you're prepared, that you're constantly learning and finding ways to improve, are the stepping stones of a successful coaching business.



Childlike Simplicity

By Suzie Tuff ey Riewald, PhD, NSCA-CPT,*D
From: NSCA Performance Training Journal October 2007 Vol 6 No 5
Article site link: NSCA
PDF Link: Childlike Simplicity

Do the following phrases sound familiar to you?
“Race you to the light pole,”
“Whoever gets ten points first wins,”
“Coach said I get to start in the game today. I can’t wait.”
They are all things that you likely would hear come from the mouths of young athletes.

Contrast that with the following quote, “I’ve never played so poorly in my entire life. I can’t believe how nervous I was and how I collapsed under the pressure.“
This actual quote came from an athlete who had been playing and competing in her sport for years and years. It came after a poor performance in a major, international competition where she felt she had prepared herself to do well yet failed to do so.

In these competitive scenarios, there seems to be contrasting emotional experiences. In one, there is an overriding pressure or expectation to perform and in the other the athlete exhibits a joy and excitement about performing.
Which emotional reaction or perspective of competition do you think facilitates optimal performance?

There is something positive to be learned from kids and competition; have fun and treat your sport like the game it is and this attitude will translate over to great performances. In this article, we will take a look at how to bring this childlike simplicity back into your training and your approach to competition and see how it can enhance your enjoyment of your sport while also improving your performance.

Think for a minute abut your own childhood athletic experiences. What words come to mind when recalling competition? Ask a group of adults to reflect back and you will hear them use words like “fun,” “easy,” “enjoying the process of performing,” “naive,” “not too stressed.” And now ask yourself about how you perceive competition as an adult? You are likely to come up with words like “overly complex,” “stressful,” “not so much fun” and “anxiety provoking,” and that is what competition can become, if we let it.

Many elite athletes tell me, when recounting competitions as a child, that “it was so easy back then.” By easy, it seems athletes are referring to having the ability to just compete, to get up and do what they have been training for while not worrying too much about the outcome or the environment. Somewhere along the way a shift occurs where athletes worry about the outcome, worry about the environment (“Th is is the US Open” or “Th is is my first nationals”) and they then force their performances. And such thinking sure takes the fun out of competition.

While there is no one answer as to how to keep competition light and fun, I present some thoughts and ideas about how to help you bring the simplicity and ease back to competition:

Alter Your Perspective
I had an athlete once tell me that to get in an effective competition mindset he recalls when he used to race with his childhood friends. Specifically, he would remember walking home from school when someone would yell “race you to the end of the block” and all the kids would take off. Everyone would just race, there was no worrying about who was going to win. Now, in his competitions as an elite athlete, he tries to bring back this unencumbered, simplified approach. He reminds himself to “just race to the end of the block.” It can be that simple.

What, Really is the Task?
Kids do not get too caught up in the environment. It is about getting from point A to point B or hitting the ball over the net. This is true whether it is competing with friends after school or competing on a local or regional team. As adults, we sometimes let the environment complicate what needs to be done. Athletes often make the task more diffi cult by telling themselves it is the Olympics, or that a college recruiter is in the stands and that they have to be even better, faster, and more perfect. Th is is not true, the task is the same regardless of the environment. Remind yourself of this. Get back to the task stripped bare of the surrounding, getting from point A to B as fast as possible or hitting the ball over the net.

Let the Outcome Take Care of Itself
Of course, kids want to win. They want to be the fi rst to the end of the block, they want to catch the ball and they want to score a goal. But, they seem caught up in the joy of competing and trying one’s hardest. As adults, instead of directing
our energies to the process, we are consumed with the outcome. We forget that the process of performance is what influences the outcome. Acknowledge that winning, placing, running a specific time are important. Then, let it go and focus instead on what you need to do to perform well. The joy and ease of competing is sure to manifest itself with such an approach.

It is not often you are instructed to act like a child, in fact in most cases we are told to grow up or act our age. However, in this one regard, you should be like a child. Leave all your baggage at the door. Simplify things in your mind so all you are doing is really jumping as far as you can or racing your buddy across the pool. Bring this attitude to your competition and watch your performances improve.

About the Author Suzie Tuffey Riewald received her degrees in Sport Psychology/Exercise Science from the University of North Carolina – Greensboro. She has worked for USA Swimming as the Sport Psychology and Sport Science Director, and most recently as the Associate Director of Coaching with the USOC where she worked with various sport national governing bodies.


11 Characteristics of Great Coaches

By: Frank Dick
Article Link: Coach Canada: 11 Characteristics of Great Coaches

So what characteristics do the best coaches share?

1. Keep Vision and Values Front and Centre.

The coach is visionary and lives life by adhering to core values. He should have very real strength of character and commitment to personal integrity and honesty. Winning at any point should never come at the expense of values.

2. Think Deeply about and Pursue Holistic Education

The coach sees himself as preparing people not only for achievement in sport, but through sport for a life of personal fulfilment and for the enrichment of community.

3. Dedicated to Life-Long Personal Development and Professionalism

The coach tirelessly pursues personal education, formally and informally, both in the performance related sciences and in liberal arts. He sees the journey to coaching excellence as a never ending story; seen not only in terms of a chosen sport and coaching theory and practice, but in understanding how to successfully live a balanced and full life, while facing tougher and tougher challenges in the chosen field of endeavour.

4. Mentally Tough

The coach is focussed, determined, tenacious, hard – even ruthless- but never cruel. His resolve to overcome all obstacles and challenges in pursuit of the agreed goal is unshakeable. No matter how many setbacks, he has the resilience to keep coming back, to keep fighting. He always has heart for the fight. He persistently seeks for the advantage and no matter how small that is, he will seize it and maximise its value. He is devoted to passing these qualities on to everyone he influences as coach. That means driving them to go beyond what they think they are capable of, even when this means tears and pain.

5. Meticulous in Preparation

The coach takes the advice of Abraham Lincoln: “If I had eight hours to chop down a tree; I’d spend six of them sharpening the axe.”

He is a master of strategic thinking and quality control, and is guardian of good order throughout the coaching process. He is thorough in briefing and preparing his athlete, team, coaching colleagues, management and performance services experts for the specifics of a given competition or campaign; he constantly seeks new and better ways of doing so. In this aspect of his role, he is thoroughly disciplined to system and method. His approach to preparation includes
anticipation and coping with uncertainty.

6. Excellent Communication Skills

The coach makes the complex simple and ensures that what is heard, seen, understood and translated into action is exactly the intended response to his verbal, visual and kinaesthetic messages. He communicates as much through the emotions as the intellect, and leans as heavily on anecdote, metaphor and simile as on data and drawing board.

7. Relationship Management

The coach exercises excellence in initialising social interaction and persistently applies best endeavours to ensure that relationships work effectively for the individuals concerned and for the collective purpose. This means taking time to understand each person in their sphere of influence; what they need from the relationship; what they bring to it; and how they can connect in learning, in performance, and in delivering the strength of interdependence. The coach is always visible, accessible, and approachable.

8. Decision Making

The coach has exceptional decision-making abilities. These range from decisions which determine the route to achieving long-term goals, to resolving situations under pressure and at speed, selecting the right course of action in a crisis. So he is very competent in making the judgement to change direction from an agreed game plan in order to seize the opportunity of success for the enterprise. He knows his most important decisions are selection of his team, from athlete to support staff. His operational network to facilitate this is part of such selection. He is well aware of his areas of strength and recruits people to make these even stronger. He is equally aware of his areas of weakness and brings in those who will compensate for these. While challenging each person in the team to raise their game, he also expects to be challenged to raise his. He creates a culture where correct decisions are based on what needs to be heard, which may not always be what is wanted to be heard.

9. Self-Knowledge and Awareness

The coach knows himself. He never underestimates his leadership role, responsibilities and accountabilities, yet he may understate his leadership value. He is acutely aware of his limitations and measures himself persistently and more harshly than he measures others; 99% of his best he considers failure, even when in others he would see 51% of their best as a win. He is true to himself and naturally to those professional standards of excellence for which he is known. In being true to himself, he knows that, being human, he is imperfect and even fallible! Achievement, for him, is only in part reflected in performance and results in the competition arena. Rather, it is in what he did and how he did it in his leadership and coaching roles, and, in the longer term, in his legacy to those whose life he touches, to the sport, and to his community.

10. Belief, Faith and Trust

The coach radiates self-belief, belief in his people and belief that the agreed goals will be successfully achieved. Those around him respond to this by believing in themselves and in him more. A shared sense of personal value grows, fuelled by his passion, pride, patience, persistence and powers of persuasion. Yet he has personal humility and an inbuilt sense of belonging to a great scheme of things. He sees trust as pivotal in that scheme: his trust in others sharing the struggle to reach the goal, and their trust in him. It is a trust where each knows the other will do the right thing, and, whatever the outcome, all will learn to be even better in meeting challenges that will follow. He has great personal strength of spiritual faith according to his beliefs. And, finally, he has an unshakeable conviction that even in those ruthless arenas of life where facts and figures conspire to set limits to human performance, it is the intangible but irrepressible power of the human spirit to go beyond those limits, that is the winning difference. The great coach fans the flame of that human spirit.

11. Passion

The coach is passionate about life, people and coaching. It is this that is at the root of his capacity to motivate. ‘You won’t sweep anyone off their fee if you can’t be swept off your own.’

That passion is infectious; however, he is also instinctively compassionate when occasion requires.


Managing Athletes – Fair Treatment

Article Link: Sports Law.

From Coaches Report - Spring 1996, Volume 2 Number 4

Just as the Centre for Sport and Law is in a state of transition [see "Speaking Personally, page 12] so is this column. In the last five issues, we have focused on issues relating to negligence and liability of coaches. In this issue, we make a switch to the other side of risk management.

As described in our first column [Coaches Report Volume 1, Number 3], organizers of sport programs (including coaches) have two obligations: one, to ensure a safe environment and two, to ensure fair treatment. Failure to satisfy the first obligation can have legal consequences, as those who are physically harmed seek compensation for injuries. Failure to satisfy the second obligation can also have legal consequences, as those affected by decisions pursue legal action to have decisions overturned or rescinded.

This column looks at the second obligation. Very often, coaches are involved in making decisions that affect athletes, and an understanding of the legal meaning of "fair treatment" is an essential part of the coach's personal risk management skills.

Procedural fairness (also known as natural justice or due process) is a legal term with legal meaning. What this term means for coaches and sport organizations can be traced to the 1952 "landmark" case, Lee v. Showmen's Guild of Great Britain. The case did not involve sport, but it nonetheless has great significance for sport organizations, coaches and athletes.

Lee was a man who sold pots and pans in a public market. The Showmen's Guild was a merchants' organization of which Lee was a member. Lee had a dispute with a fellow merchant in the market and the Guild punished him by suspending his membership. Lee fought his suspension in court and won, and the judge's decision established two critical principles for sport: one, the jurisdiction of a domestic tribunal is founded on a contract, and two, a domestic tribunal is subject to the rules of natural justice.

In plain language, these principles have the following meaning. First, a domestic tribunal (that is, a sport organization) derives its authority form the contractual relationship it has with its members. The terms of this contract are set out in the bylaws and governing documents of the organization. The organization can do no more, and no less, than what this contract specifies. And it can only change the contract by following special procedures which are laid out in advance. Secondly, the decision-maker has a duty to be fair. This duty is defined by certain rules of fairness, which stipulate that the decision-maker must have authority to act, must act without bias, and must give the person affected the opportunity to be heard.

There are numerous examples of sport situations where these simple rules were not followed, often with grave consequences for the organization which found itself on the losing end of an expensive lawsuit:

Many coaches have disciplined athletes by suspending or revoking membership, even though the organization had no power to discipline in such a manner because it wasn't written into the contract.

Many organizations instruct coaches to select athletes for teams without the benefit of any criteria or guidelines, with the result that the coaches is making arbitrary, subjective decisions which cannot be supported when challenged.

Often, decisions are made by those who have a vested interest in the outcome, because of a personal relationship or other association. Also, it's not uncommon to see appeals of decisions sent back to original decision-makers rather than to an independent and unbiased decision-making body.

For the coach who is expected to make decisions about athlete eligibility, selection, and disciplines, here are a few pointers:

-Insist that selection criteria are approved in advance and are as objective and concise as possible. If criteria are subjective, develop your own guidelines to evaluation athletes.
-If your organization doesn't have a policy on discipline, encourage it to adopt one. Ensure that athletes and coaches have input into the policy.
-Recommend that all selection decisions be made by a panel, not just by one person such as yourself.
-Make a habit of putting all your decisions in writing, with reasons, even when aren't required to supply a written decision. The act of writing reasons always results in a better decision.
-Look at creative ways to discipline for minor infractions, including verbal and written apologies or reprimands, assigning extra duties, or removing perks and privileges. Reserve the most serious sanction for the most serious offence.
-If called upon to make a decision in a situation where you feel you cannot be completely impartial, excuse yourself and ask that an unbiased decision-maker be appointed.
-Encourage your organization to adopt a clear, fair policy on appeals.
-If all these risk management measures fail and an appeal procedure does not resolve the situation, the coach can use his or her position of influence to persuade the parties to consider arbitration as an alternative to going to court. The Alternate Dispute Resolution (ADR) Program for Amateur Sport is now underway. If the parties agree to refer their dispute to ADR, the Centre will set them up with a panel of skilled, independent arbitrators who will resolve the issue in less time, at less cost and with less overall harm than is possible in court.


Essentials for World Class Coaching

By Wayne Goldsmith,
Article Link: So you want to be the best? Essentials for World Class Coaching

Over the past 20 years I have had the good fortune to work with some of the world’s leading coaches – coaches of world record holders and Olympic Gold Medallists, coaches who have won football premierships and led national teams to international glory. Whilst all great coaches are unique and very special individuals, there are some common factors – some common championship coaching characteristics that they all share.

1. A commitment to continuous improvement.
2. A belief that anything is possible.
3. An understanding of where your sport has been (history of the sport), where it is now and most importantly a vision for where it is going.
4. The confidence to be yourself – to be unique.
5. The energy to work hard consistently.
6. The strength and courage to not compromise.
7. Outstanding communication abilities.
8. An understanding of who you are, what you value and what motivates you.
9. A passion for winning – a desire to be the best.
10. The capacity to persevere and persist and continue to fight hard no matter what obstacles you face.

1. A commitment to continuous improvement.
Success is a moving target: winning this year is no guarantee of success next year. Great coaches continue to pursue excellence and relentlessly chase personal and professional improvement. They understand that the time to make the most significant and effective changes to their coaching is when they are successful – i.e. they reject the notion that winning means they have all the answers. They may be number one but they think, act and strive to win like they are number two. They are allergic to complacency and they reject routine, habit and sameness. They know that they must accelerate their learning and their rate of change to win and to stay ahead of their competition. They are not afraid to ask hard questions of themselves or to invite honest, hard, direct and uncompromising criticism from colleagues and competitors. They know that if they are not honest with themselves and if they fail to strive to identify and overcome their weaknesses, their competitors will find them and exploit them at the next competition.

2. A belief that anything is possible.
Belief has to come before excellence is possible. Great coaches believe in themselves and back themselves. They understand that belief is the foundation of success. They possess a belief which is able to withstand negatives and setbacks and obstacles and failures.
The belief that drives a great coach is like the flow of a great river – it is unstoppable and it sweeps aside all resistance in its path. Real progress is only possible when fuelled by real belief. Great coaches have a sense of self belief that says to their competition “I am here to win – and to beat me you will need to be at your best”. Their belief gives them confidence. Their belief provides them with composure. Their belief keeps them calm in the face of any competitive storm. Their belief gives them clarity. And the only thing greater than their self belief is the belief they have in their athletes.

3. An understanding of where your sport was been (history of the sport), where it is now and most importantly a vision for where it is going.
Great coaches are students of their sport. They have insight and understanding about the physical, mental, technical, tactical, strategic and cultural aspects of their sport that is second to none. But more importantly they have a clear vision for where the sport is going and strive every day to get there first. They do not follow. They lead the direction of the sport through their creativity, their innovations and their intuition. They lead – and force their opposition to follow – to have to chase them. They set the standard and challenge everyone else to try and match it. They change the direction of their sport – they determine the future of their profession and they become the benchmark for future generations.

4. The confidence to be yourself – to be unique.
The essence of greatness is uniqueness. It is uniqueness and daring to be different that sets the great coaches apart from the rest. It is their courage in being innovative, their courage in being creative and the capacity to be futurist in their thinking that helps them achieve special things – and importantly to achieve them before their competitors. Being the same – copying / replicating / duplicating: these things do not create greatness. Think of all the great people you know or know of. What makes them great? Difference, individuality, uniqueness. Great coaches do it their way. They learn from the great coaches of the past and the present only to improve on them in the future. They know that being the best means doing it differently. It means having the faith and courage in yourself to keep being different when everyone around you is telling you that difference is wrong.

5. The energy to work hard consistently.
Greatness is not free. Excellence is not easy. World class coaches have an energy and an enthusiasm which is infectious. They are often the first ones to arrive at the training environment and the last to leave. Their attention to detail and level of understanding about the sport, the team, each individual player and staff member comes from spending more time working on being the best of the best. They leave nothing to chance – they do not assume or presume – they just get on and do it day after day after day. They inspire not with words, but with actions and the consistency and passion and professionalism they demonstrate in all that they do. They do not ask for respect: they earn it as a consequence of living the highest possible standards – consistently, when fatigued and under pressure, every day of their lives. They expect and insist on quality, detail and intensity in preparation and understand that success comes from ensuring training is consistently more challenging and demanding than any competition environment ever could be.

6. The strength and courage to not compromise on the important things.
Compromise kills performance. It is a disease which rots the performance potential of athletes, teams and organisations from the inside. Great coaches know this – and know that the team who compromises the least over the season wins the premiership. All teams begin the season talking about attitude, professionalism, team work and standards. And most teams accept small compromises in their attitudes, professionalism, team work and standards before the ink is dry on their Season Trademark / Season Mission Statement documents. Great coaches create systems, structures, processes and people who do not compromise on the things that matter. They know that when it comes to winning and small things, that there are no small things. They are uncompromising when it comes to honesty and seek out athletes, coaches and staff who similarly embrace honesty as a core value.

7. Outstanding communication abilities.
Coaching is communicating. And not just yelling and shouting or screaming instructions from the sidelines. Coaching is understanding – communication and all its subtleties. It’s being able to sit quietly with a player, talk with them about what’s important and change his / her life. It’s about understanding how to communicate with individuals through understanding who they are, what they value and what motivates them. It’s about understanding how to communicate with Generation X, Generation Y, Generation I and every Generation because you take an interest in everything about every person you coach. It’s about listening. It’s about teaching when you need to and learning more from the people you coach than they learn from you. Great coaches understand that the best communication is delivering the right message at the right time in the right way – and to do this means knowing when each person is ready to listen.

8. An understanding of who you are, what you value and what motivates you.
To coach someone to achieve their best requires you to know as much as you can about them: who they are, what they value and what motivates them. And you can’t coach anyone else unless you understand yourself, what you really value and what motivates you. Great coaching comes with great personal understanding. It comes from being able to be more honest with yourself than anyone ever has or ever could be. Great coaches have a great sense of self – they know who they are and why they are coaching. They know their strengths and they understand their weaknesses and strategies for managing both. They do not need to be loved or popular or win friends or be invited to parties. They do not need the approval of other people to make them happy – their happiness comes from creating a winning environment and from the satisfaction of knowing their coaching was the difference between winning and losing.

9. A passion for winning – a desire to be the best.
A lot is written about balance. The great coaches have none. Balance is only for those who do not live excellence or who find the challenge of competition stressful and difficult. To the great coaches there is winning or there is nothing. Great coaches thrive in competition. They seek opportunities to test themselves against the best. They pursue opportunities to challenge themselves in the toughest and most demanding situations. To them, the harder the competition, the greater the challenge and the more difficult the environment, the more they love the contest. Nothing excites them more than the competitive environment: the grand final, the Olympic Games, the world titles....they live for the contest. They do not experience competition anxiety – only impatience for the opportunity to test themselves again. They only play golf or jog or go to the gym or go to the movies to give themselves more time to think about coaching. They do not switch off – they are only coaching or sleeping and even then most of them will dream about coaching.

10. The capacity to persevere and persist and continue to fight hard no matter what obstacles you face.
Great coaches are fighters. Their commitment, their desire, their passion and their self belief fuels their capacity to fight for what they believe in. They know that no one will make their life easy or their path to greatness simple. They revel in politics. They thrive in conflict. They enjoy passionate argument. They invite intelligent objection knowing that in professional coaching nothing provides the opportunity for growth like conflict. They know that nothing worth having comes easy and that real friendships and enduring relationships grow from adversity. They can say “no” – and in doing so provide opportunity for learning. They can say “no” and stand by their decisions in the face of overwhelming obstacles and political pressures.

Many coaches believe that being world class means another accreditation. Or another award. Or one more degree.

Some believe being the best of the best means having the best sports science, the most equipment, the best facilities and the most talented staff.

Others believe it is simply a matter of good luck, good timing and being able to buy the best athletes.
For the great ones, coaching is who they are – not what they do. It is their personality, their character, their ambition, their drive, their passion, their values and their soul. It is the air they breathe and it is every beat of their heart.

World class coaching: Do you have what it takes?
Continuous improvement
Self belief
Energy and consistency
No compromises
Self knowledge / self understanding
Passion / desire
Perseverance and Persistence

A piece of string is twice as long as it is from one end to the middle

By Wayne Goldsmith
Article Link: Sports Coaching Brain: A piece of string is twice as long as it is from one end to the middle

Have you ever asked someone an open question and had them answer, “how long is a piece of string?”

Guess what?

There is an answer to this question….

And that answer is “A Piece of String is Twice as Long as it is from one end to the middle”.

And so it goes with coaching.

Experienced coaches are often asked “piece of string” questions by young coaches desperate to learn the secrets of the sport and the mysteries of the “masters”.

Some of the most common “piece of string” questions asked by young coaches are:
1. How many training sessions should we do each week?
2. How do you know if an athlete is really talented?
3. What’s your favorite drill?
4. What’s your favorite training set?
5. How much gym work do your athletes do?
Because, as a young coach, you believe the secret to success lies somewhere in the combination of training sets, periodization, programming and workload management.

In other words you believe the secret to success is a “what” – it is a thing you can see or read, copy, replicate and achieve the same level of success as the “whats” originator.

What are the top selling sporting products on the market????

Sports Equipment and Sports Supplements / Sports Nutrition products!


Because they offer “innovation” without real thought or creativity, performance enhancement without hard work and competition success without discipline. They offer – what most of the world craves – a short cut to success and an easy solution to performance problems.

If you want to become a great coach, a coach who is recognised as an innovator, a coach who is lauded as a leader, a coach who is seen as taking their sport to an unprecedented level of performance, forget the “whats”.
There is no piece of equipment – there are no sports nutrition products – there are no short cuts – which can take you from coaching mediocrity to coaching mastery.

Concentrate on the “who” – as in who you are – who you really are and the “how” – how you can commit to continuous improvement and how you can ensure your athletes are engaged with you and your coaching program.

The “whats” in the sports business and in life generally are transient fads; they are temporary.
This year the sales reps are pushing protein powders, next year it’s isokinetic strength machines, the following year its float tanks….every year we get a procession of the latest and greatest in quick fix, easy answer, fast solutions which without exception, over promise and under deliver.

Look at what has come and gone as the optimal training tool in recent years…heart rate monitors (now just a secondary workload measurement tool), lactate analysers (huge questions over what lactate even is or does), creatine (just as many studies find no benefits as do find something), altitude (almost totally discredited as a training aid of any real significance), pilates (still no clear link between the Pilates pratice room and performance in elite competition) ….yet in their day, each of these false idols of sports performance were marketed as the ultimate in athlete preparation.

And….what’s worse….young coaches (and even the not so young) ”fell” for the promises offered by these practices and changed their coaching philosophies in an effort to tap into what was heralded as the next big thing.

There is a great old saying…”if you stand for nothing, you will fall for anything” – if you are not sure of your coaching philosophy or do not have a BYBY attitude (be yourself – back yourself) then you are susceptible to any fad, gimmick, trend, smart marketing and advertising campaign promising tempting but unrealistic sports performance enhancement.

Often the “whats” are appealing because they offer promises of short cuts and easy answers to a vulnerable market desperate for performance advantages.

We all know what the secret to success is – it is so obvious it has no right to be even called a secret…here it is for free.

Work harder, more consistently than anyone in your sport in the world ensuring that you commit everything you have – physically, mentally, technically and tactically to every training, recovery and competition experience.
The best gym in the world will not make an impact on a team with a poor performance culture, who turn up late, who have poor discipline off the field and who are not totally committed to living excellence in training and preparation.

Spending thousands of dollars on sports nutrition products do not make up for a poor attitude, a bad technique, a lack of skill and a sloppy recovery program.

Yet, in the next 24 hours, tens of thousands of sports people around the world will spend millions of dollars on sports equipment and sports nutrition products seeking a performance advantage which in all reality does not exist -or if it does exist, is a short term solution.

I have lectured, presented and met with sports coaches all over the world for the past 20 years.

When question time comes around, I have never been asked, “Wayne, how can I develop a real confidence in my abilities, a strong coaching philosophy and an attitude where I embrace continuous improvement, innovation and excellence in everything I do” – No-one ever asks this - is it that no one really wants to know the real secret to success!

But if I had a dollar for every time I got a question like “What do you think of creatine” or “What is your view on Pilates” or “What is your experience with xyz training equipment” I would have somewhere close to $19,576,671 dollars.

But there is an answer to all your performance questions - you already know how long the piece of string is – you always have.

The greatest people in the world are unique, they dare to be different, they take risks, the do it first – they believe in themselves – they back themselves.

The answer to all the questions you have about your coaching is staring back at you from the mirror every morning – not in some coaching magazine – it’s right in front of you.

And it is saying – “you can do it”.

Have you bothered to listen?

Now What?

By Vern Gambetta
Article Link: Functional Path Training: Now What

You have max heart rate, resting heart rate, and heart rate variability. You have total distance moved in a practice. You have blood lactate during and post workout. So you have pages of spreadsheets filled with numbers, now what do you do with this data? How can you translate all these random numbers into useable information? This is the million-dollar question. It is not a matter of what you can monitor, it is what you can use and interpret. There is an explosion of technologies available today that enable us to monitor virtually any parameter we want to, but before we go further down this path we need to take a step back and ask why? On one level it is very straightforward 1) We need to get accurate feedback to guide and shape the training process and 2) We need to understand individual response and adaptation to various types, volumes and intensities of training.

On the next level we need to determine the absolute need to know information that will help us accomplish those two objectives. Monitoring more parameters is not the answer, just because it measureable does not mean it is meaningful. You need to ask yourself is the data helping to make your athletes better? Can you translate the numbers into actions that will significantly impact the athletes training? If you find yourself inundated with random numbers without context then you need to step back and ask yourself why?

I love data, it is interesting and challenging to find meaning in data you gather. But and there is a big but here – have you lost sight of the forest for the trees. You can get caught up in generating random numbers that you take your eye off the ball. You need to watch the athlete as a person, as an individual, how they handle the stress of training and competition. Closely observe body language. Ask them how they feel. Educate them to read their bodies and how they react to training stress. Put the focus squarely back on Hu, the human element, not the technologies and the subsequent numbers.

Don't be a mad scientist, be a coach. Use technology to measure what is meaningful and appropriate. Less is more. Focus on the need to know and stop there. Look closely at the tools available to help you do this. How much time do you have? How much help do you have? Then carefully choose how and what you are going to monitor. Then have a plan to turn that data into information that you can use to modify or change your training. Remember just because it is measurable does not mean it is meaningful.


Ten things every young coach should know

By Wayne Goldsmith (a few adjustments to offer Wayne’s recommendations to coaches in other sports)
Article Link: North West Athletics: Ten things every young (swimming) coach should know

1. Learn from the guys (and gals) who have been there

The best way to learn is by doing. Next best is to learn by working with those who do the doing.

Find yourself a mentor: A senior coach who has experienced the ups and downs of coaching. If you can’t find a suitable senior swimming coach, seek out a senior coach from another sport. If you want to learn how to coach from someone who knows – coaching skills are generic across all sports.

- Find a senior coach who has strengths you lack.

- Find one who will be honest and sincere: one who is open in sharing the benefits of their experiences. One from whom you can listen to and accept honest criticism.

- Look for one who disagrees with your philosophy – who will challenge you – who will argue with you – someone who stimulates you to think, learn and grow.

A few hours a month with a great mentor is worth a hundred seminars, workshops and lectures.

2. It’s not all about the science

Sports science has made significant contributions to swimming in the past fifty years.

However, it is not the defining element of the sport. The day to day of coaching is more about dealing with parents than periodisation, more about politics than physiology and more about pool space than psychology.

Learn the sports science you need to do your job well.

As you develop and improve, continue to learn about and experiment with sports science. If you get to national / international level, develop a network of outstanding sports science professionals to support your coaching program. But ultimately it is your coaching – the intangible factors and inherent qualities that you possess as a coach which will drive the success of the program.

Heart – not heart rate is the key

3. Keep it simple

Don’t get too hung up on VO2 Max, heart rate monitors, lactate testing, blood testing and DNA testing ..keep it simple.

Don’t go looking for short cuts, easy answers, quick fixes, miracle supplements, amazing new swimming aids, the latest strength training toys……keep it simple.

One of the biggest mistakes made by young coaches is to over complicate their coaching.

What do you really need to be successful?

1. A coaching philosophy that makes sense to you and you can live by.
2. Passion, enthusiasm, commitment, dedication, compassion and great communication skills.
3. A pool.
4. Some athletes with the same passion and enthusiasm to be successful as you have and the desire to get the most out of themselves.
5. The leadership skills to inspire those around you to work together towards achieving common goals.
6. A basic knowledge of swimming technique and skills.
7. A supportive partner / family / friends to provide balance and stability in your life.
8. A basic understanding of planning and programming.
9. A strong imagination – with this, you can achieve anything.
10. The ability to think laterally and creatively.
11. The ability to deal with tough times and to overcome hardships with a smile.
12. A love of coaching.

Many young coaches believe that the “fancy stuff” will solve all their problems. The suffer from the “IF ONLYS”.

“If only we had a long course pool”.
“If only we had twenty heart rate monitors”.
“If only we had a brand new gym”.
“If only we had the latest FINA standard starting blocks”.
“If only, if only, if only……”

The limiting factors in coaching are not these material elements.

A coach with passion and determination, working with a committed group of motivated people can achieve anything. A coach without these things but the latest and greatest technology has to offer is only capable of looking good – and even then not for long.

Keep it simple. Stick with the basics and doing them well consistently.

4. Politics and Personalities

If you live on this planet, life is about dealing with personalities and politics. Learn to deal with it. Learn to manage it. Learn to be comfortable dealing with difficult people and political situations but don’t let it define you.

Dealing with difficult people and political situations causes more coaches to drop out of swimming than any other factor. Issues with club and committee. Fights with parents. Battles with pool owners and local councils. Brawls with other clubs over turf issues. These are the things that can make or break young coaches.

When faced with difficult situations young coaches will often say, “I am not interested in politics, only coaching”.

Learn how to deal with conflict. Learn how to control meetings. Learn how to work effectively with clubs and committees. Set up clear lines of communication with parents and supporters.

Master the political domain and learn to deal with difficult people effectively and you can coach with the confidence of knowing your coaching environment has been managed effectively.

5. You will never stop learning

- You will learn everyday as a coach.
- You will learn from athletes.
- You will learn from other coaches.
- You will learn from winning.
- You will learn from losing.
- You will learn ONLY…..if you are ready to learn.

The essence of learning is humility. That is, admitting you don’t know everything and being open and enthusiastic to learn more.

There is no coach – no person – in any field of endeavour who knows it all. In fact, the most outstanding coaches, business people, athletes, academics and other leaders, spend more time and energy on learning and ongoing professional development than anyone.

Once you commit to life long learning, your coaching will be a life long adventure and your improvement is guaranteed.

6. Who you are determines the outcome of your program – NOT just what you do

- Who are you? John Smith? That’s just a name.
- Who are you? A (swimming) coach? That’s just a job.
- Who are you? A dad. That’s just one role in your life.
- Who are you really and what do you stand for?

This simple question rarely has a simple answer.

But developing a coaching philosophy is critical to be successful and to develop a coaching philosophy you need to understand who you are and what you stand for.


Because who you are underpins your philosophy to coaching and this in turn underpins every thing you do as a coach.

In other words, if you don’t have a meaningful coaching philosophy, you will change with the ebb and flow and compromise every time a new idea or new challenge comes along.

If you stand for something – if you embrace values like integrity, honesty, humility, courage, discipline, empathy, compassion, determination and sincerity – these values not only define you but they will be reflected in every element and aspect of your program.

The challenge is for you – right now – to sit down and write what it is you believe and what it is you stand for.

This one simple act will make all the difference in your coaching career…and your life.
If you don’t stand for something ..You’ll probably fall for anything
It’s what you learn after you think you know it all that counts

7. Do not compromise for talent

One of the biggest mistakes young coaches make is to “worship” talent.

They have a vision and a plan. They have a good program. Then some talented kid walks in.

The kid is tall, strong, athletic – seems to win easily.

The young coach thinks, “Here is my chance – my chance to prove to the world what a great coach I am”.

So the young coach compromises. The young coach bends the rules. The young coach adjusts the program and their vision to meet the needs of this one individual talented swimmer.

Do not compromise for talent – particularly young precocious talent.

Young athletes with talent – those who win easily because of genetic gifts rarely make it to the top. They rarely take advantage of that talent and even more rarely make the most of their opportunities.

Yet, young coaches invest time and money and effort on precocious talents believing these kids are the “ticket” to get them the coaching recognition they deserve.

If you get a talented kid who believes in you and your program, who wants to work hard and commit to the vision and philosophy of your program and support the team and team culture – great.

If they want to come in and change the rules, miss workouts and generally have a negative influence on the team because they just won the State under 10 years 50 breaststroke – give them the phone number of another coach. Better still drive them to another coach’s pool - and fast.

8. Communication skills are what it is all about

Some coaches have a strong sports science background.

Some coaches were athletes themselves with a great understanding of the sport and an empathy for their team.

Some coaches come from teaching backgrounds and are highly skilled educators.

Some coaches were parents who decided to get more involved in the sport.

Coaches come from all backgrounds and walks of life.

But if there is one skill common with all great coaches it is the ability to communicate effectively.

You are not in the sport business – you are in the people business and your sport is just the vehicle.

You change lives. You inspire people to do things they can’t see or feel. You influence the hearts and minds of everyone you work with.

And you do it through your communication skills.

Master every element of communication – verbal language, body language, eye contact, written communication – all of it.

9. Develop a culture NOT an athlete or a program

The aim of coaching is not to produce a successful result. Well, ultimately it is, but the result comes as a consequence of developing a winning culture.

The real aim is to create a culture around your program, your club and your team which increases the likelihood of a winning result.

Most young coaches will throw their energies into an individual athlete or a single season and sometimes achieve a single successful performance. The following year, the “star” athlete moves to another town or things change and the success of last season is only a memory.

The most noticeable thing about the leading coaches is their consistency. They develop systems, structures and a culture around their team which ensures high standards every year. Some years they get really lucky and have an outstanding season. Other years they just have good seasons. But they rarely have times where everything goes wrong and if they do, it doesn’t last long.

Leading coaches work on a principle called MAXIMUM AVERAGE. In other words, if you develop a structure, system and culture which ensures that on AVERAGE, the fitness, speed, skill, technique, attitude and strength of your team members is the highest it can be; then, you are significantly increasing the likelihood of achieving success.

10. Accept the concept of coaching “evolution”

You will change as a coach.

Your ideas, your thoughts, your “magic training sets”, your “secret drills” that only you understand will all change….you will change.

Once you accept this, and embrace change as a natural part of your coaching life or even actively seek and invite change, you are on the path to coaching greatness.

One of the worst things that can happen to a young coach is to get success too easily.

This creates the biggest enemy of successful coaching – THE INFLATED EGO SYNDROME or T.I.E.S.

Once a coach has developed this condition, characterised by a belief that they have all the answers and they are the only coach in the world who really understands the sport, they are on a one way ride to failure.

- Accept change.
- Invite criticism.
- Thank people for offering advice.
- Get excited when people attack your program.
- Listen, learn and evolve.
- There are no limits to the coach who accepts and welcomes evolution.


Maximise You – 10 Tips for Coach Well Being

Ann Quinn (Quintessential Edge, London, UK)
ITF Coaching and Sport Science Review 2010; 50 (18): 3 - 4


This article summarises some tips to help you maximise the most important person of all – you, so that you can enjoy the journey to your success both on and off the court.

Key words: Coach well being, health, self improvement.

Corresponding author:


Research into coaching has increased considerably over the last two decades but an area that is still in its infancy has been that of the well being of professional coaches. Much is expected of you as a coach. On any given day, you may play the role of a coach, educator, physiologist, business executive, psychologist, administrator, and so the list goes on. You are always busy planning and giving lessons, organising teams and competitions, running the pro shop, or watching matches, and that is just at work. On top of that is often family, community and a host of other commitments and often the last on the list is You! Does that sound familiar? Well you are not alone.


We evaluate our players, their strengths and weaknesses and prepare regular report updates but what are you doing for you? Do you really know how healthy you are? How long is it since you have had a blood test, checked your cholesterol and blood pressure, or had a full medical check up? Have you been to the dentist or had your eyes checked recently? Just because you are fit and active and on the court, does not mean you are invincible and nothing will happen to you. Tennis coaches on average suffer from levels of burnout similar to those of other helping professionals. (Eklund, Kelly & Ritter-Taylor, 1999). The pressure and stre levels juggling your own business and other obligations can be enormous. You are no help to anyone if you are sick, stressed and exhausted. The most valuable asset you have is your health.


Create the vision of exactly where you want to go so you can get excited to move towards that direction. Make those goals inspiring and compelling. See it day in and day out. What you would like to achieve for your players, for your business? Set your goals and create that vision plan for that exciting future because that is where you are going to spend the rest of your life. Working towards such important life goals is associated with increased well being. (Klinger, 1977; Sheldon, Kasser, Smith & Share, 2002) Make it happen!


We all tell our players to warm up and prepare for their matches and training but do you prepare to coach or do you just walk on the court and start coaching? The time taken to warm up is much better than spent off the court injured. Likewise, do you put on sunscreen and a hat if you working in a hot climate? Not too many coaches could say they do this properly. Sunscreen should be reapplied every two hours, or more often if it is wiped, washed or sweated off. Skin cancer is the most easily preventable form of cancer and yet in Australia, more people die from skin cancer each year than are killed in road accidents. Remember, prevention is better than cure. Prepare to win for you.


We all want to be the best we can be? What can you do to be innovative? With the plethora of information available through the Internet and the capacity for coaches (and athletes and parents of players) to get any information they need anywhere, anytime, how can you be innovative? Be creative. Think outside the box. Olusoga et al (2009) highlighted the importance of psychological skills training for coaches to help them cope with the diverse demands of world class coaching. Also look to what other sports are doing. Create an effective learning environment for you and your players, read, talk to other coaches, find a different way. Get excited. Engage with your players and inspire them to be all they can. It is the little differences that make the big difference.


A commitment to continuous improvement and accelerated learning is essential for coaches at all levels. There are so many ways to do this, from attending conferences, reading, watching videos, on the internet, talking to other coaches, and letting your life experiences become your own coaching lab. Stimulate you. The best way to learn is by doing. Be one step ahead all the time. Have fun and get creative. Sometimes it is our mistakes that teaches us the greatest learning.

Don’t focus on win-loss records. Coaches have been found to be more likely to burmout if they focus on wins and losses. Focus on your own coaching performance such as teaching more effectively, strategizing, optimizing training, developing mental toughness and emotional control, and creating a motivational environment for players Duda et al (1999). Look at things differently. Find a mentor to support you..


Do you practise what you preach? Coaches are always telling their players to drink up and eat to win. Do you lead by example? Do you have energy snacks and a drink close by all the time? The same principles apply to you, as to your players. Be a role model for your students. Inadequate fluid intake and/or excessive sweat losses mean that you work harder, your intensity is lower, you fatigue faster and you react slower. You cannot win. Energise you!


A sign that you are overworking is irritability, hypertension, impatience and a loss of your drive and determination. Working too hard is not good for your health or your lessons. Be sure you plan to recover too. Learning how to shut down, turn off and re-energise is as important to success and well being as firing up, and ready to win a big match. It is as much a physical as it is emotional rejuvenation. Getting a great night’s sleep goes a long way to help you recuperate and recharge. Some passive recovery activities include massage, hot baths, ice baths, meditation, naps, deep breathing, reading, watching television, or some quiet down time. Active recovery activities involves movement of the body, such as walking or jogging, yoga, stretching, pilates and recreational sports. Taking regular breaks between your lessons also helps to sustain full engagement as does a short break away. Now there are no excuses!


A great way to achieve well being is simply just taking time to be grateful. How lucky are we that you get to play tennis for a job, travel the world, and can have life long impacts on so many around players. Notice, appreciate, feel, experience and anticipate all the good that currently exists in your life. Go and write them down now. Embrace the massive blessings around you every day. Live with an attitude of gratitude.


Contrast the difference between practicing on the Centre Court at a Grand Slam versus a court with pot holes, broken fence lines and dull lighting. Your environment really does make a difference to your well being and to all those around you. What could you do to improve your environment? This might include not only where you teach, but also your office, your home, your car, your clothes, and everything all around you. In well designed environments, you are more creative and productive (Leonard, 2000). You have more energy, and can accomplish things so much easier. Having the right equipment puts you in a position to do your best and makes you feel great too. Create an atmosphere where your players’ talents can flourish.


It is especially important to plan time out to have fun. When you are consumed by your work, you suddenly lose contact with everything else that is meaningful in your life. Block out time for fun. Rekindle your intrinsic fire. Make your rejuvenation just as important as work. Your health depends on it. Some ideas include making time for dinner, getting together with friends, or getting a massage. Keep your blackberry or your iphone turned off! Get present to the experience in the moment. Fun should be a central theme for your players and for you! Life is a journey, not a destination.

As lucky as we all are to be involved in such a great sport day in and day out, remember it is only one part of your life and one facet of who you are as a person. Establish your priorities, set your goals and never stop learning. Constantly energise and recharge you to keep the balance. Live with an attitude of gratitude and enjoy the journey winning the game of your life.


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