Sunday, November 29, 2015

Coaching for Results

What makes a great coach? Results!! While we could list all the attributes such as knowledge of the sport, leadership skills,…etc. the answer is really quite simple. It reminds me of an experience my daughter had as freshman thrower at BYU. She was working on the discus one afternoon when throwing legend LJ Silvester came by and watched for awhile. As the session finished he asked her, “What is the most important thing for a thrower to remember”? She thought for minute, wanting to say the “right thing.” Having read much of what he has written and published on the subject of throwing; she answered meekly “rhythm?” He laughed and said “throw far”; a simple answer that requires a lot of thought to understand. As a great American weightlifting coach, Joe Mills, used to say, “I can explain weightlifting in 5 minutes, but it will take you 5 years to understand.”
After 35 years of experience, I have to conclude that coaching is much more art than science. While a good coach is always trying to learn more, the only real measure of a coach is not what he or she knows, but what they can get their athletes to do. Preparation is certainly an important aspect of coaching, but most of all a coach needs to know and care about his athletes. Developing a “program” is certainly an essential beginning point, but the success comes in adapting the program to individual characteristics and circumstances. The best coaches are not those who promote a co-dependent relationship but who develop athletes who can coach themselves. Former Minnesota Vikings coach Bud Grant, quoting a Chinese general, said “ A great leader is someone who can get people to do great things, and when they are done they say, We did it ourselves.” As another great leader said, “We teach people correct principals and let them govern themselves.”
Throwing greats Al Oerter and Hal Connolly both mentioned that a simple towel was one of their most influential coaches.
They put it out on the field as a marker and tried to surpass it. When they did, they moved the towel and until they could surpass it again. While they doubtless also benefited from feedback from others, the bottom line is they learned what worked for them and became very independent and self-reliant athletes. When an athlete can succeed without a coach, that is coaching at the highest level.

My friend Mike Burgener coaching for results...............

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