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Saturday, September 13, 2014

35 SECRETS OF BRILLIANT COACHES

The following comes from a great list that was written by Anne Josephson for the Huffington Post.  The title of the article was "35 Secrets of Brilliant Coaches." The complete list of 35 and is well worth reading here.

These are the ones that I thought had stood out during my life-time of coaching:

1. Cherish the child over the athlete. Brilliant coaches know that being an athlete is just a small part of being a child. Brilliant coaches never do anything to advance the athlete at the risk of the child.

6. Begin with the end in mind. Brilliant coaches keep their focus on the big picture of the goal of the athlete. They have a plan, but are flexible as they are aware the road to success is filled with twists and turns.

7. Are obsessive about fundamentals. Brilliant coaches understand the value of fundamentals as the core of all skills. The stronger the core, the more successful the athlete. Legendary basketball coach John Wooden would spend his first practice with his players instructing them how to put on socks. Correct wearing of socks prevents blisters, and feet absent of blisters can attend basketball practice.

8. Break skills into chunks. Brilliant coaches don't simply teach a cartwheel. They break that cartwheel into several key sub-skills and instruct on those skills first before putting them together to perform the cartwheel. Brilliant coaches know that by isolating the individual elements that are woven together to achieve the skill athletes will succeed faster.

9. Embrace athletes' struggle. Brilliant coaches understand that learning is a curve. Like muscle needs to break down before building up, athletes need to struggle to push forward. A brilliant coach doesn't panic when this struggle happens.

10. Make the boring interesting. Brilliant coaches connect the tedious to the goal and make games out of those things that can be counted. They issue challenges and create missions. The goal is to make these dull, but necessary moments more engaging.

14. Give feedback in short, clear spurts that are precise and action oriented. No long speeches. John Wooden was once followed for a whole season so his motivational techniques could be studied. Wooden's average "speech" was four sentences. Furthermore, brilliant coaches do not engage in observational coaching. ("Get your arms up." Up where? "Your knees are bent." Tell me how to fix that.) Concrete feedback ("Your arms need to be right behind your ears." And "Squeeze this muscle and this muscle in your leg to make it straight.") is given instead.

15. Are careful about how they measure success. Brilliant coaches do not use scores or win-loss records as their sole measure of success. Brilliant coaches understand that doing so can erode the long term development of the athlete. Brilliant coaches instead develop competencies for the long run, even if that means sacrificing success at the beginning of journey. If you had to choose, would you rather have your child be the strongest student in the first grade or in the twelfth grade?

18. Constantly are seeking continuing education. Brilliant coaches never believe they know it all or that they cannot improve themselves. Quite the opposite. Brilliant coaches read journals, articles, books and scour the internet for training ideas. They attend professional workshops and seek mentorships from other coaches.

22. Use imagery in coaching. Brilliant coaches paint pictures in the athletes' minds. "Jump as high as you can," becomes "Push the floor away from you like a rocket blasting into space and reach that rocket to the stars."

32. Educate their athletes. Brilliant coaches go beyond instructing their athletes, instead educating them in a age-appropriate ways regarding the purpose of and objective of various drills, skill sequences and conditioning circuits.

Again, the entire list is outstanding -- an especially great read for young coaches -- and you can read it in it's entirety here.

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