Change is a constant. One of the discriminating factors that differentiate between a good and great coach is how they deal with change. Good coaches are reactive and change manages them. They fear change and go out of their way to avoid it. Great coaches lead change they are proactive and embrace the challenge of change. In fact great coaches are change engineers, they are at the cutting edge always looking for a better way.
Coaching is learning to manage risk. For athletes to improve they must push the envelope in training. It is the coach’s job to know the athletes and they capabilities in order to guide them in their quest. Sometimes we undershoot and sometimes we overshoot but in either case if we have a good plan then it becomes a learning opportunity and another experience that makes the coach and athlete better. Failures are learning opportunities if they are put in context. From the ashes of failure rises some of the greatest success in sport. Objective evaluation of success and failure and understanding the why is the characteristic of coaching excellence. The highs are not too high and the lows are not too low because everything has a context – the pursuit of the ultimate goal.
What is the measure of coaching excellence? Oftentimes we measure a coach by wins and losses, by championship trophies lifted. To me that is not the sole measure of a coach. Some the greatest coaches are coaches you have never heard of they are not in the EPL, the NFL, they may never have had an Olympian but they are still great. How can that be? They take the talent they have and make it better everyday out of the spotlight. They consistently do the most with what they have.
Preparation is a given in coaching excellence. John Wooden would spend two hours planning a two-hour practice. He was the best of the best partially because of the impeccable daily preparation. It helps to think of preparation this way – tomorrow began yesterday. Preparation is an ongoing process. Make self-reflection part of the daily routine. Don’t be afraid to be hard on yourself. Each training session is not only an opportunity for your athletes to improve it is an opportunity for the coach to get better, to learn what to do and what not to do. There are lessons in and opportunities in each training session. My mantra is to try to do something that no one else in my world is doing and to do it better everyday.