This is the first of a four part post that I think is particularly important at this time and place. These are my ideas and observations on coaching excellence and coaching for excellence. Hopefully it will stimulate some thought, discussion and most importantly action.
The cornerstone of high performance is coaching. There can be no performance excellence without coaching excellence. For me as for any coach who wants to achieve excellence it is a journey, a journey of constant learning and practice. I have been fortunate to be a coach for 48 years and the journey continues. My goal is to share with you from my experiences what the characteristics of coaching excellence are.
As an athlete in high school I quickly recognized that coaching was the difference maker. I saw a small school the same size as my school with very similar demographics achieve a high standard of performance. I wondered why. It became apparent that the difference was coaching. That school had a coach who was different. He did not talk about excellence he demanded it, not in a dictatorial bombastic manner but in his actions. His teams were prepared, they were ready to compete, and they did not panic, they thrived in competition.
In my senior year in high school we rose to a new level in basketball. Why? Because of coaching. My coach raised the standard and all subsequent expectations. He got all of us totally committed and absorbed in the process. At a young age all of this underscored for me how important coaching was. I became of student of coaching. I was fascinated with the process. Regardless of the sport I could see that coaching made the difference. At the highest levels of sport talent is a given, but I could see that it was what was done with that talent that made the difference. It was the coaching.
Coaching is not something you do; it is something you are with every fiber of your being. Jerry Garcia sums it up quite well:
“ You do not merely want to be the best of the best, you want to considered the only ones who do what you do.”
Be unique, be special and make all of those around special. There is no halfway in the path to coaching excellence. The only way to be excellent is to be all in all the time. How can you expect that of your athletes if you not leading by example?