Random Thoughts on Coaching Education…

So I find myself again wishing that I was more up to date with postings but I’ll just blame it on a busy coaching schedule.  This season continues to fly by and now we are in the final 3 weeks of the season. The majority of the gang will be finishing up at the Atlantic Championships and then after that the only ones left will be those heading to the National Youth Championships in Langley, BC.

One of the more interesting things to take place this summer was a coaching camp that I hosted in Saint John from July 21-23rd.  Now earlier in the year through ANB I got the green light to start a mentorship program.  The  primary goal was to provide some applied learning opportunities for some local coaches.  Each month I provided them with a shot reading and then asked the coaches to perform a small homework assignment.  The whole goal of the program has been to keep it short, informative, useful, and applicable.  I was able to join each of the three apprentice coaches and take part in one of their practices but then also got to have them in Saint John to join my group for a few days of practices as well as have the normal classroom sessions.  We also got lots of chats in over meals so needless to say I got my fair share of talking in over the short period.

This led into the coaching camp where no topic was off bounds.  There were no secrets, no agendas.  Only education, sharing, and making it known that their are no secrets.  I have been in Saint John for two and a half years now and am very proud of what my group has become but the biggest thing to remember is that they are a group of highly motivated young adults who work extremely hard so that they can achieve their goals.  Through some planning and the right advice at the right time the end results are something that makes me a very proud coach.  The ladies asked questions and I answered honestly.  Sometimes this meant I had answers but other times it resulted in an “it depends” or “I don’t know”.  I am very young.  I know this.  My experiences are not as deep as those who are older than me.  I won’t apologize for that either because I feel like a professional and that I have a specific skill set that is equateable to any professional.  And it is because I am a professional that I know that I am not perfect.  That I don’t have all the answers but I will continue to search for new answers and replace the knowledge that I do have with new answers and even replace incorrect ones.

But I must say that getting the chance to share what I have learned so far in my young career with these three coaches was a great experience.  All three ladies come from unique situations, with unique demands, coach a variety of events and ages, and all of that adds up to an individual situation that no one can replicate.  We all coach and we all have similar situations but nothing is ever truly the same.  We talk about individualization in coaching our athletes but what we need to remember is that our coaching is also highly individualized.  So it is up to the individual to build programs or models or systems or whatever word you want to use to describe how you coach that are suitable and a reflection of your reality.

To explain I have been asked if I run short to long or long to short program.  Well given the Canadian winter and an indoor gym where the circumference is about 155m but do have a 50m spike able strip so I say that I run the UNBSJ program.  Is it ideal? Is it what the text books write about?  Heck no! But do we use it as an excuse for failure.  Not at all.  We lace up our shoes, wake up early in the morning, and get in quality, focused work.  We push our bodies in a systematic fashion and strive to be better than the day before.

This is my take on coaching.  I am lucky to call coaching my profession.  For it to be both my full time job but also my passion.  Sometimes this bond can be difficult and it times it is but it is also something that I do not take for granted.  If anything I respect what I do that much more.  I respect my role and want to make sure that I can impact my athletes and volunteer coaches as much as possible.  I get to travel across the country and even continent for competitions and conferences.  Hopefully soon I get to change it to globally but thats another blog topic.  Through this continental travel and experiences that I gain I am very lucky to hear from experts who have been at this profession longer than I have been alive.  It is then up to me to shed light when given the opportunity for those in my community and I try my best.  This year I was able to spend time with legends named Smith, Seagrave, Pfaff, Behm, McMillan and have made friends and had discussions with like minded coaches who are also trying to get better so they can have a greater impact on their athletes and their communities.  But it is no word of a lie when I say that I learn something from everyone be it an expert coach with 50 years experience and numerous Olympic medals or the volunteer who coaches twice a week.  It is this openness and respect for education that I believe will continue to make me a successful coach.

Does this mean I implement everything I hear, see, or read about? No, that would be ridiculous and there is not enough time to fit it all.  So I think, I reflect, I ponder, I try to figure out the who, what, why, where, when, and how it could work and then maybe just maybe will I try to make it all work.

But for today I will just continue to do what I do.  Back at the track tomorrow and keep on grinding.

Cheers to all in their pursuit of knowledge and their coaching endeavours.

Trying out the bands :)

Trying out the bands 🙂

Saint John fog on the last day.

Saint John fog on the last day.