I thought I’d share some of the things I’ve learned about being a coach, and our coaching world. And with a flavor of full-disclosure, many of these things I knew before, have forgotten, and have relearned.
I’ve learned that parents aren’t necessarily the problem, it’s relationships with parents that are the problem.
I’ve learned that, “Yes it is a weird & wild world of coaching sports today.” However, proportionally, our generation of coaches have it no weirder or wilder than any previous generation. Each generation has had its own weirdness and wildness to work through.
I’ve learned that being nice is usually more important than being right.
I’ve learned that it is increasingly more difficult to get the attention of athletes. I think this is because we, ourselves, are getting less effective at keeping our own attention. There’s a gold rush for attention going on, and many of us are not using the right tools to dig for the gold.
I’ve learned, the hard way, that I’m a better coach than I think I am (some of the time), but not as good as I think I am (the other times). In other words, I am a poor judge of how good of a coach I am, or am not.
I’ve learned that a quote from someone I respect can help focus my coaching, especially during challenging times. Here’s an example from R. Buckminister Fuller:
There is no use to try to change human’s nature. Instead, go after the tools. New tools make new practices. Better tools make better practices.
I’ve learned that winning can be fun but after a few successes what winning really does is fend off the depression of losing.
I’ve learned that sports coaching can be a force for good, but the efforts often get sidetracked by greed and the seduction of winning.
I’ve learned that my brain is great at coming up with ideas, but lousy at holding onto those ideas.
I’ve learned there are three categories of coaches: visionaries, managers & technicians. It takes all three to run a good program, and very rarely does one person possess all three traits.
I’ve learned that each generation has their rock-n-roll — the thing they do to rebel and annoy the previous generation.
I’ve learned there are numerous ways to teach a skill and the one that works the best is the one that works the best for the athlete.
I’ve learned that for most coaches 15% of the job is wicked fun and the other 85% teeters between boring and tolerable.
I’ve learned the lives of coaches (both the public and the private) are increasing becoming under the microscope.
I’ve learned that, sport dependent, 20-40% of coaches leave their coaching gig each year. And a significant part of those leave coaching for good.
I’ve learned that there are five Rs critical to a coach’s success: Relationships, Recruiting, Retention, Rules & Results. (And maybe in that order.) A multitude of coaches believe it is only the last “R” that really counts.
I’ve learned that even though coaches are competitive most will do what they reasonable can to help their competitors be successful.
I’ve learned that very few coaches have an upward-strategy, and even less have an exit-strategy.
I’ve learned that coaches pay a price to coach, and sometimes that price can be a wicked, hefty one. And there are simple things you can do to reduce that price drastically.
I’ve learned that the saying, “we are our own worst critic” doesn’t hold true in coaching. Our worst critics are out there and they often have really big megaphones.
I’ve learned that as a whole, the coaching community is loosely organized.But if one day we coaches together as a group with a singular focus (oh, say … reducing childhood obesity) the community could be wickedly effective, and extremely powerful.
I’ve learned that the saying, “A picture is worth a thousand words,” grossly undervalues the worth of a good picture.
I’ve learned that it is entirely possible to “make it” as a coach by winning. Yet the coach who often is remembered is the one who focused on the journey, not just the destination. There are a great many coaches who are very fondly remembered by their athletes even though they never won the big one (or even got close), but they made the journey exceptional.
I’ve learned that three of the values that athletes crave in their coaches are honesty, vision, and empathy. Athletes really and truly want to trust their coaches. Some coaches make it exceptionally hard for that to happen.
I’ve learned burnout impacts coaches at proportionally high rates. And the effects of burnout (depersonalization, reduced feelings of personal accomplishment, emotional exhaustion) can bring the toughest coaches to their knees.
I’ve learned that young athlete often ignore what we say, yet do what we do. Seasoned athletes listen to what we say, think about it, then do what they want to do. And older athletes do what they want, when they want, and just tolerate coaches. (I’m pretty sure that athletic directors would voice the same about coaches.)
I’ve learned screens (smart phones, tablets, computers) are a great way to communicate facts & figures and videos. Anything else is usually better spoken.
I’ve learned that after 33 years of coaching I am entering the true beginner stage. There is so much more to learn (and relearn).
How about you?