Effective Coaching: Technical Instruction
This week’s article is the second of a 3-part series examining the question “What are the commonalities of great coaches?” Our first article examined Administration, our second Technical Instruction, and our third being Motivation. The idea behind this series of articles is to provide a bit of perspective on how we all fit into either teaching others or individually learning ourselves.
There are three major components to successful coaching; administration, motivation, and technical instruction.
TECHNICAL INSTRUCTION is the academic component that is most lacking in the world of coaching. My explanation for this is that the responsibility to accrue technical knowledge for any sport usually falls on the shoulders of the coach. Either the coach does not know where to look, may not have resources readily available, or perhaps just doesn’t understand how much is behind athletic performance. It requires one to have an open mind to the possibility that there may be things that exist of relevance and importance beyond your own knowledge base.
The very point of the Performance Training Blogis to educate and disseminate quality information. But in order to learn, one must be ready to admit they do not know everything – for when can anyone really know everything? I laugh when I hear a person either being described or describing him or herself as an expert. There is no such thing as experts. Certainly, it’s fair to say that you may have an area or strength or specialization, but the idea that all knowledge for a particular skill has been assimilated seems unrealistic. There’s always room to grow.
Technical knowledge of a sport or skill is a combination of the sport sciences; physiology, biomechanics, kinesiology, metabolic load, and psychology to name a few. Any one of these areas could be studied to the level of a PhD. But it is the responsibility of the individual coach or athlete to educate him or herself, and to understand that unless they have invested significant and legitimate time in obtaining background in their specific discipline, that they may not have all the answers.
It consistently amazes me how often I see a loving parent or even a veteran coach who cross-coaches an appointed mentor. From a fundamental standpoint, the lead coach is the one who the athlete works with everyday, at every practice, and depends on in the moment of competition. Coaches are in charge of assessing their athletes, developing realistic goals based on their assessment, and finally creating a plan of action for training to help their student of sport.
How can a person who has not been through this process from the beginning – someone who does not possess a competent background in their sport through education – adequately work with an athlete. The simple answer is that they can’t, and won’t be able to until they have a legitimate background. But remember, even veteran coaches can become complacent. Experience can turn to poison when not mixed with humility.
A final thought to understanding the technical aspect of sport is to realize that game strategy isn’t always what leads to a successful outcome during competition. As it was explained within the Administration article segment, technical instruction may not be fully captured if you have an athlete who is not taking their sport seriously, missing practices, becoming a disciplinary distraction, etc. Technical instruction is the one component of a successful coaching triad which cannot be fully captured without consistent efforts in the administrative and motivational areas. It can also be the difference between winning and losing in the moment of competition as there is usually only a small degree of difference between victory and defeat. Next week will feature the third and final installment to this article and is focused on Motivation.