What skills does a good coach need to have? Is there a universal measure to help us find these? Do we even care?
About James Marshall
James Marshall is the head coach at Excelsior Athletic Development Club in England.
Most people assume genetics are the factor that determines sprinting. As the cliche goes: sprinters are born while marathoners are made. That may be accurate if your goal is to become a world-class sprinter. However, if you are an average human being and your goal is to run faster, then environment and coaching become important factors too. This is especially important with children.
With the exceptions of professional athletes and some students, most sportspeople are time poor. Travel, work, study, family and competing, take up time in strangely inconvenient blocks that mess up your meticulous training routine. If the plan says, “90 minutes”, then it is easy to become disheartened when you only have 60 available. Or, for the ultra-committed, you become sleep-deprived as sleep is what “gives” in order to “make-it.” This is a short-term solution that comes back to kick you in the backside as you underperform in your sport or life.
The sport of weightlifting requires speed, strength, coordination, and mobility all packed together with skill. Anyone can pick something off the floor, but picking something heavy up and lifting it above the head is much more difficult. Even the strongest individuals can only lift heavy weights so far off the floor. Therefore, in order to lift, […]
There are many different styles of coaching. A coach might be direct, quiet, or use guided discovery. Coaches might be stronger with some styles than others and they may revert to that style by default. Athletes might learn better with a one style or another. And some tasks also demand a certain style: explaining where the fire exits are using a free exploration style before you start coaching a new group will simply waste time. A direct style is best suited for this. Where the style of the coach, athlete, and task line up match, good things can happen. Where they don’t, conflict or disappointment may result.
As anyone who witnessed the UK government’s recent presentation on COVID-19 data will know, data is only useful if it can be read and understood clearly. For those who missed the broadcast, the presentation consisted of many slides of data with the BBC banner on the screen blocking out the titles! The audience of millions was left looking at lines and bar charts that had no context or explanation. Unfortunately such examples can easily be found in the world of sport too.
The people who come to our club to learn weight lifting are normally in their mid to late twenties and have had experience of lifting a barbell before. Unfortunately, a lot of them use the C-word in their enquiry, but I don’t hold that against them. They have found that they like the lifting part of Crossfit and want to just do weight lifting or they want to improve their technique to go back to their box. A few of these novices want to compete and whilst they won’t break records they have managed to win medals in their age/weight categories since training at our club.
On the first day of my masters program in sports coaching we were told to study supercompensation theory for homework. All the students dove into Tudor Bompa’s treatise Periodization: Theory and Methodology of Training. The book made the whole concept seem so easy, including nice graphics on how supercompensation worked. I thought I had hit pay-dirt with the organization and structure laid out in the book, and got Bompa himself to sign my copy a few years later.
Are you a teacher or are you a trainer? The difference might seem trivial, but it is fundamental in how you approach your athletes and sporting environment.
When the lockdown began 15 weeks ago I started filming physical education videos for the local Willand Primary School. What initially started out as a short, 3-week project to help the teachers provide content for pupils to do at home eventually turned into a large archive of lesson plans. As our local schools just closed for summer break, it is a good time to reflect on the project.