Sometimes I write because I have something to say, but often, I write because I need to understand better what I believe to be true. This is one of those times.
Coaches can learn a lot from students
As any coach, I love a good quote. My new favorite comes from Ernest Hemingway when he said, "I've taken more from alcohol than alcohol ever took from me." I feel the same way about students.
I am a firm believer that coaching involves a symbiotic relationship. As a coach, I teach my students to the best of my ability, but also, I am constantly surprised by the things I learn from them.
In another article, I talked about the kinds of questions a player should ask themselves before endeavoring to coach other players. In this article, however, I want to talk a little more to the working coaches, certified or not.
An active coach is a sponge for information
I mentioned the word symbiotic before. It's a serious word, I know ... but hang in there, I promise I'm going somewhere with this.
When you start to see your students as resources and not just work, your level of coaching can improve drastically. When you start asking more questions than your students do, then coaching can become more of a fluid artform than a skill.
An active coach is a sponge for information, and if you ever stop learning, you stop leading. Sometimes you may only be learning how to better coach that particular person, but regardless, knowledge is power.
Actually, knowledge is potential power. It's turning that knowledge into action that is power.
Did you ever have a friend explain in glorious detail the extravagant idea they had for your Christmas present, just after they give you a Starbucks gift card? To which one normally replies, "Ooohhh don't worry, it's the thought that counts"
I'm here to tell you, it's not. We are judged by our actions, not our thoughts. (For the record, I like Starbucks, so if you ever see me at a tournament and hand me a tall extra hot peppermint mocha, then I'll probably be your best friend for at least the lifespan of that beverage.)
The player and coach symbiotic relationship
Symbiosis is about a mutually beneficial relationship, in our example, the flow of information between the player and coach.
It's not a difficult formula from the student's standpoint — they are there to learn and generally come mentally prepared to do just that. How many coaches can say the same?
In my life, I have been taught various things by various teachers, from sports to languages. What I found time and time again is that the more experienced my teacher was, the less likely they were willing to change their beliefs and therefore teachings.
It's understandable, their careers hinge on the pretense that they "know" the answers, that they possess the exact right knowledge to teach a student correctly. What if I told you that no one really "knows?"