I coach people first and athletes second

This post is about a real passion of mine and the foundation of the way that I coach.

There are lots of theories and approaches to coaching out there, and I have looked at many of them.  I really encourage young coaches to spend as much time as you can when you are young just watching, listening and trying different approaches to see what works best for you.

The title of this article reflects my position.  I got asked today what I thought about one of my athletes, who has decided to take a break for a while from high level sport.  My response, I think shocked the person asking the question.  I simply said, “I don’t care.”  After looking at her shocked expression I explained to her that the only thing that I do care about, is that the person is ok, happy with their decision and after the decision was made they are still happy and having fun and enjoying what they are doing.  I know for a fact this is the case and there is plenty of opportunity to come back and compete again later on.

I endeavour to get to know my athletes from a personal level. I try to understand what they like and don’t like and I really try to understand how they think about things.  It is my job as a coach to get the best possible performance from an athlete.  My way of doing this is to coach their mind, just as much as their body.  I once heard a coach say, “There is no point trying to get your body to do something, if your mind has not already been there.”  I thought this was a great way of describing one of the key roles that a coach must play, in harnessing the though process of an athlete and using their strengths to advantage them in getting where we have agreed to go.

That is not saying however that clients and athletes do not have to do things they do not like!  But, understanding for instance that a client hates working on their core because last time they did this in another facility it injured their back, and then explaining the differences in our plan to the last plan they were following and how this plan will help them grow in physical performance will demonstrate that you understand they are scared, and that your job is to be there to support them through the change in their mindset about the particular exercises that you will do to correct the problems that exist.

There is no tried and tested method of coaching someone’s mind.  It is individual and requires you to listen, watch and more importantly, understand.  What I will say is that if you coach every single person just like you want to be coached, then you will only ever keep people that are just like you in personality, thought process and emotional intelligence.  If you are prepared to go to your athlete’s level of thinking, and understand how they think, then you will be more likely to keep a stable of clients and athletes who differ greatly, who will challenge your thinking and ways of doing things and who will ultimately, in my opinion make you a better coach and person.

So, absolutely one of THE most important tips I can offer coaches is to coach the person first, and the athlete second. Get your athletes to work with you, not for you and don’t just hear, but understand.

If you want a coach that works with you and does not simply tell you what to do then contact Vector Health at glenn@vectorhealth.stagingarea.net or phone 4927 8190.  Glenn Hansen is the owner and head coach at Vector Health. He has more than 15 years of coaching experience across different sports.  Glenn offers mindset coaching sessions as part of our coaching structure. 

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