The ‘My way or no way’ approach to coaching is outdated
This is a topic that may upset some people – If you are a coach and you have a ‘way’ of coaching and believe it works then that is great, keep doing it. I am not trying to say that a particular way is right or wrong, I am just sharing my personal opinion.
From a young age, I have been lucky enough to be involved in many sports and to be surrounded by others who have done the same. We have all experienced many different coaching styles although, across a variety of sports, they all come together as one and you can see patterns throughout. It is one of these that I wish to discuss in this post.
A great coach can lift you in the moments you need it most.
Have you ever experienced a coach who:
- answers ‘Why?’ with ‘Because I said so.’
- has the attitude of ‘I’m always right.’
- intimidates those who speak against them
- uses fear of failure as motivation
- threatens punishments for mistakes
This is a coach who believes that the power of authority, a threatening approach and commanding discipline is the only way to achieve a good performance.
It is necessary to be tough as a sports person but is this the only way to develop this characteristic?
In order for you to become a high-level player, unfortunately, you will encounter a heavy dose of sweat, discipline, self-control, drawbacks, constant improvement and self-belief. But do you need someone to shout it all at you for you to understand that? You’re all pretty clever, I think you can work it out for yourselves.
How much better could you become if you had a coach who:
- listens to you and welcomes your input
- approachable, trustworthy and fair
- caring beyond the sport and is empathetic
- views long term growth over short term results
Yet this would not change the fact that rules and standards are still expected to be met – you just know and understand your boundaries. You still have a role to play; your coach is an aid to you being able to execute that role, to the best of your ability.
Believe in the idea of respecting the coach for who they are, not for the power of position.
The major difference between these two coaching styles is that any sports person should not be made to act in a specific way but should be supported into wanting to act that way.
I have experienced the differences myself so I am speaking from a little experience. At one point in my youth career, I was being yelled at, scared to make mistakes and called stupid, amongst other things. My coach was completely under the impression that this would make me stronger. Did it? Not really. – All that it did was made me like the coach less, feel more anxious during training and go to perform at major events with the only thought of ‘I just want it all to be over’. And today I see the same young players, who come to me and ask how to get rid of performance anxiety and improve their self-confidence for those major events. We always speak about their coaches; unfortunately, rather more often than not, these athletes feel intimidated and have a lack of positive feedback but, most importantly, they wish it would be different for them.
So I will leave you with this: Does great coaching come from being or using a power?