While it is not necessarily the best for our bottom lines, our goal as coaches should be to empower the athletes we work with to reach greater heights. All too often I see people become reliant upon their coach or therapist. One athlete with whom I used to compete couldn’t even lace up his spikes without first asking our coach if it was the right time to do so. Initially, this is permissible as the “coach” is in a leadership position because he (or his clients) has been at this level before, and is an expert at what he does. However, the coaches responsibility is to, over time, encourage the athlete to learn to find solutions within himself and develop a sense of personal responsibility.
Inside each athlete is a number of barricades the athlete must overcome to achieve optimum performance. The coach must help the athlete recognize these limitations, and lead the athlete to find a solution within himself. On the outside, the coach must recognize the mechanical differences of each athlete and develop a series of plans with the intent of optimizing the individual’s given movement skill, speed, strength, stamina, and suppleness. This series must include the education that makes the client aware of what you’re attempting to accomplish (bare bones, leave the science at home) as well as both “in house” training and “on your own” assignments to empower the athlete to take responsibility for his success.
In the last sentence there are two words that are critical to a successful coach. Those words being “aware” and “responsibility.”
Now how do you get make an athlete more aware?
It’s pretty simple, really. Awareness is helping the client gather the relevant information, during which the client should become aware of himself and his own limitations.
Responsibility is a bit muddier as all too often, we as coaches attempt to force responsibility upon our clients instead of having our clients choose to take responsibility. You want your clients to ask you “what can I do when I’m not here to make me more successful” rather than you saying “I need you to do these two circuits twice a day when you aren’t here.” A person’s commitment to perform increases when she truly accepts responsibility for
her own thoughts or actions.
The best way to make an athlete better aware and to take responsibility is to learn to ask better questions. Be a facilitator, not an expert. Instead of asking an athlete, “Why aren’t you hitting the putt on line?” or telling him the answer, ask the athlete a question that will force him to focus such as, “Where on the putter does the ball make contact?”