Periodically, someone will ask me where I have learnt most of my knowledge, what publications do I read, seminars that I go to, youtube channels do I watch, places I have studied and coaches I have been mentored under?
The truth is always very underwhelming I think; not just to me, but to the person asking as well. Its flattering if someone thinks you’ve added value to their training that they care at all to know what your background is, but in particular, its when the question comes in the form of advice that the REAL answer needs to be unpacked a bit.
“How can I become a coach?”
My observations on becoming a coach….
* The simple act of repetition will improve you as a coach. Like everything, so do a lot of it.
* If you’re worried that coaching takes too long to get good at, but you care about it, see this as a positive thing. It will make it harder for all the terrible people from following through with it and giving coaching a bad name: Or in some cases a worse name.
* You are valuable to people to the extent that you can provide things for them. Assessing yourself as a coach shouldn’t just be a case of listing bad things that you don’t do. “Not too expensive” and “At least I’m not as crap as that other guy and into P90X“, should be off the table as descriptions of yourself.
* Time within every sport you’ve played, in fact pretty much most of your life, is spent consuming things that other people have produced. A good coach produces something for someone. It doesn’t matter if the coach is ‘really nice’ (it helps) but they have to produce improvements.
* The only thing that matters to the athlete is what you can get them to do. Education, accreditation, personality: none of it means anything until it is validated by an improvement in the person who is acquiring your service.
So there are a few cold harsh realities there. And notice I am differentiating between financial success and actual coaching success. If the question is, ‘How can I become a financially successful coach/trainer?’, then you’re asking the wrong guy. The question I am responding to is, ‘How can i become a better coach?’
You need to uncover problems. If you uncover problems you now have a great motivation for solutions; those solutions will germinate into experiments, innovation and knowledge. We are surrounded with under-skilled people who want to gain some physical skills. What ever image you create in your mind of what a great coach looks like, surrounded by uber-awesome physical specimens; if it truly isn’t just a case that they have just recruited better talent, then they have gone through a long process of solving problems for people.
It may sound counter-intuitive to say, ‘go out and find some problems to solve’, because it would appear at first glance that our goal in life is bliss and efficiency and fulfillment. But frankly, humans don’t really enjoy bliss that long. They love to pick at consensus, cause conflict, disagree and stand out: They like to have some power and control.
Those athletes you start with, they’re valuable to the new coach. They provide great experience, it might be for free but its invaluable. Yes, yes yes; publications on coaching and training people are extremely valuable. But there is way too many people asking questions on what to read and listen to, and not nearly enough people asking questions on actual real problems they are trying to solve.
Acquire problems THEN read about solutions.