Sports have always had great athletes and that is a part of what makes it interesting. Athletes banter, compete and win trophies, whether in individual sports or in team sports. Athletes do most of the hard work.
Yes, most of it, because there are a whole lot of other people backing athletes up. From physiotherapists, psychological coaches, to performance coaches and coaches in general. Coaching is one of the most important aspects of an athlete’s career, as much as important as their hard work and performance.
Coaches need to do a lot of things right but some skills take precedence and empower coaches to do their jobs better.
It is impossible to be a coach and not have empathy. Nobody is going to suffer a coach who is too harsh, whether physically or mentally. Either of those two can lead to injuries or have serious consequences.
Empathy allows a coach to synchronize with their athlete/s and provide them with the necessary feedback, while not being harsh. A coach should be able to take in the athlete’s physical and mental condition prior to giving them advice, making that advice much more valuable.
A coach is nothing without their routines and plans. Working out requires a schedule and depending on the sport, that can be important or even more important. Whether performance coaching or strategic coaching, routines are important for making the right choices ahead of time.
Most of the time, an athlete can do only so much to improvise when playing a match. It boils down to their prior preparation and muscle memory.
Observation and Goal Definition
Coaches should be able to take in a lot of information, whether about their own athlete or team, or the opposing ones. This makes a coach a great source of information, whether to point weaknesses in their athlete’s gameplay or their opponent’s.
Observing is one thing, but working to a goal is another. Having information is not as important if you decide or do not know how to implement it in a constructive way. This is where a clear definition of a goal and good organizational skills come in handy.
Knowing When to Act and React
This is a bit more difficult to pinpoint, especially because every coaching situation is different. A coach should know when to react and how, but that depends on the situation at hand as well as their athlete/s and their emotional state.
Sometimes, it is much better to remain quiet and reflect on something later. Delayed reviews and reflection are a great strategy to use, especially after a tough match, no matter the outcome of a match.
Coaching is a very difficult career, which requires a person to have multiple skills in order to succeed. From empathy, organizational skills, goal orientation and definition, observation, listening, assertiveness, to an instinctive knowledge of when to act and when not to, it takes many skills to make a great coach. Luckily, all of them can be learned and practiced.