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Coaching art & science

To be an effective coach it is necessary to be informed by science and artist to rival da Vinci. We know so much more today from a scientific perspective than when I started coaching 48 years ago and the information is easily accessible. But are we applying it as well as we can? We can do better. We have several generations of coaches who have been driven by science but come up short in the art, the practice and the craft of coaching. It’s not the science that is the problem it is the lack of artistic ability, the things you must do to be an effective coach of people. Read more

Putting the art of coaching in practice

Earlier in the year Lee Eldridge asked me to write down four simple coaching points to help advise young coaches. Eldridge, a English performance coach based in Geneva, put my input together with coaches like Nick Winkelman, Dan Baker, and more into a piece on the art of coaching for UKSCA members. You can check out my responses below. Read more

GAINcast Episode 50: Serial Winning Coaches (with Sergio Lara-Bercial)

Sergio Lara-Bercial had a simple question he wanted answered: what makes serial winning coaches so successful. As a senior research fellow at the International Council for Coaching Excellence he was able to sit down with coaches who produce Olympic champions and record holders time and time again. In this episode he talks about his background, the project, and what lessons he learned from talking with the best coaches in the world. Read more

GAINcast Episode 47: The Art of Coaching (with Harry Marra)

Recently Ashton Eaton announced his retirement. During his career he took the decathlon to new levels and it was coach Harry Marra who helped guide him there. In order to break down 10 complex events, Marra has become a master of communication and the art of coaching. On this week’s episode he joins us to discuss the art of coaching, the decathlon, and more. Read more

Is Coaching an Art or a Science?

When I was 14, I started my GCSE programme at school (for those of you that aren’t British, this is a series of exams taken at age 16 called General Certificates of Secondary Education), and one of the subjects I chose to study was physical education. As part of this subject, we had a one lesson a week dedicated to the theory aspect of PE, of which physiology, biomechanics and psychology were a big part. I remember being enthralled by all of this, and I read the textbook we were given over the course of a weekend; something that both my teachers and the other students found very weird. But I was fascinated because what I was learning was helping to explain things that I had noticed over the course of my two year athletics career – the reason I was quick was because of fast twitch muscle fibres, things like that. But I also saw the enormous potential that all this knowledge could give me in improving my sports performance. As an example, I learned about sports training principles, which go by the acronym SPORT: Specificity, Progression, Overload, Reversibility, & Tedium. The specificity principle was incredibly important to me at that point in time, because I was doing the “old-school” method of sprint training, which involved lots of long, slow runs. I hated this type of training, and what I learned gave me the knowledge, and confidence, to try and find a better way. Read more

GAINcast Episode 11: Coaching Art and Science

One of the biggest change in sports over the past half century has been the increased involvement of science. The role of science has been central in moving training forward, but it is the art of coaching that puts the science into practice on the field. Maintaining a healthy balance between art and science is essential to progress as a coach. In the words of Winston Churchill at the end of the day to get results “Science should be on tap, not on top.” On this episode, Vern dives in to the interplay between coaching art and science.

This Episode’s Question: What are coaching art and coaching science, and how do we balance the two?

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