Many athletes make the mistake of not hiring a coach early in their athletic career. A life of an athlete can be a short one, so it is important to develop an athlete’s ability early, or the risk is they will never achieve their full potential. Results can’t be achieved if you are stuck in a rut, such as finishing in the middle of the pack year after year. You may be training hard, but are you training smart?
You can train smart and more efficiently with a coach. Coaching is an art and a practice for excellence and on many levels is supported by many years of research and science. A successful coach is always learning. Whereas it may take 10 years and 1,000 hours for a cyclist to win a big race and achieve his/her goal, the coach’s job is never done. Whether it is continuing to work for higher goals, or coaching another potential athlete, the coach is always striving to bring out the best in his/her athletes.
What are the qualities of a good Coach?
It takes time to develop the necessary skills to be a good coach. Understanding athletes needs and goals require knowledge, expertise and confidence. An important criteria for any coach is to have an athletic background in the sport he/she is coaching. That person doesn’t necessarily have to be an ex-World or Olympic champion, but he or she must have experience competing at an elite athlete level. That way they know the expectations of competing at a high level.
A passion for coaching is important and to be able to deal with failure as well as success. The interest in wanting to learn and develop as a coach is also important. Learn the basic coaching skills first and then advance over the years with the goals of being an elite coach.
Choosing a Coach
Before choosing a coach you need to know what your dreams and goals are. Believing in your dream is also an important part of your ultimate success. If you want only technical advice then you may be able to get away with advice from fellow, experienced athletes. They may be able to tell you the best line to ride or what equipment you need, and it may be useful advice and work for them, but it may not work for you.
A competent and experienced coach can also offer technical advice but is more aware of the athlete needs and so can personalize any advice. But coaching is more than just giving technical advice or running a training camp.
One of the biggest reasons an athlete fails is not understanding how to get to the next level. There is a large gap between an athlete’s potential and his actual performance, and a coach needs a systematic approach and long term plan to overcome this gap, and work through it, to keep the athlete on the path to success.
An experienced coach can be the best resource when an athlete is not sure what step to take next or starts experimenting with their training sessions. Changes won’t come overnight as the coach must take the time to understand the athlete’s physiological, physiological, social, and work ethic. A trust has to be developed to build a healthy relationship – the relationship that is also based on respect. Ultimately, the coach and athlete develop a partnership towards the common goal of achieving excellence.
Over the years I have seen many athletes who have great potential but have never taken the time to learn the basics, like decision making, risk management, or effective planning. If they can’t learn these basics they will never be able to dream and achieve their goals.
By Houshang Amiri