T Nation

How to Be a Better Coach


As coaches want to make our athletes a better version of themselves. This could be mean anything from making them less injury prone to creating a stronger winning mentality. It all falls under our mandate of being a coach. The key to being a good coach is to be yourself and stand by your principles. This guide is designed with a very specific focus, to make you better at coaching, and specifically, how to deliver feedback to your athletes in the most effective way. Not only to improve your athletes performance when they’re with you, because lets be fair, that’s the easy part, but to improve your athletes performance when they’re not with you, and to have a lasting effect on their performance.

When giving feedback to your athletes you need to be conscious of a few things:

  1. Athletes can only process so much, don’t overload them with information
  2. Be selective in what you’re trying to coach. Letâ??s say you’ve got an amateur golfer and you’re working on his swing. You get him to hit a few balls in the range and alarm bells start going. In each swing you spot at least 7-8 different errors going on. What do you do? Coach all of them? No, you donâ??t. You need to find the elephant in the room. Find the biggest problem, and focus on that. If you try and tackle all 7 problems at once, you’ll get nowhere and will probably cause more harm than good.
  3. Once you’ve found the main issue think about how to coach it

Here’s a list of Dos and Donts which I’ve compiled to help you do exactly that:

Do:

  1. Give your athlete a scope of what is acceptable performance wise
  2. Explain to your athlete that you’ll only give them coaching feedback on performances that fall outside of that range
  3. Set an acceptable range of performance. For example, using our golfer again. Say you’re working on chipping out a bunker onto the green. Instead of simply instructing your athlete to play the ball as close to the hole as possible, give them a larger target of anywhere within 6 feet of the hole. That’s your â??acceptable rangeâ??. Anywhere outside that you give feedback, inside and you don’t.

Don’t:

  1. Set your acceptable range to big or small, set it too small and you’ll end constantly correcting your athlete, this will lead to them becoming demotivated. Set it too big, and you won’t achieve the desired level of improvement
  2. Fail to explain to your athlete that a lack of feedback is good thing and means they’ve performed well
  3. Over coach, let your athletes figure things out for themselves

The benefits:

  1. Your athlete won’t get overloaded with information and will be able to focus on the main issues
  2. Your athlete will remain motivated. As they improve, they receive less and less feedback, as you’ve already outlined to them that this is a positive, they know they’re improving
  3. Athlete dependence is avoided, the better they get, the less you’re involved

Follow these simple tips and you’ll ensure the time you spend with athletes is as effective as possible. The hardest thing for us to do as coaches is take a step back and let out athletes figure things out for themselves. Donâ??t always solve your athlete’s problems for them, let them do it themselves. They’ll thank you one day!

If we’re now coaching coaches, who is going to coach the coaches of the coaches?

By the nature of our participation we are all ultimately coaches to one another