Knowledge and Professional Development

The past several weeks have been extremely busy but honestly when isn’t my life and that is not a complaint.  I love the daily craziness and randomness that each day can bring.  One of the joys is that things are never the same.  My days are never the same.  Sure elements may be similar, exercises and athletes maybe close to the same but changes have happened. I am certainly not the same person, the same coach, the same set of eyes. My viewpoint has changed.  Maybe not radically but change is constant. The same goes with the athletes.  Sure they probably haven’t changed a huge amount but the movement pattern in that one legged squat may have gotten a little smoother and a little more controlled.  Their posture may have improved.  To someone who doesn’t work with individuals in this manner on a daily basis I am certain that they wouldn’t see a difference.  They wouldn’t notice that the right arm in the shoulder press was extending easier than last week or that the athlete did a full 10 reps compared to only 8 the previous week. Or how about the negatives.  That slight limp. The way the athlete is guarding their right side.  That bruise on their knee cap.  Those shoes that are far beyond their life expectancy.  An unfilled water bottle. The pale look of the skin tone and dark bags under the eyes. Everything is an indicator and change is constant for good and for bad.

I have spent a large portion of the past ten years consumed with knowledge, education, and learning.  Trying to change myself for the better as a coaching professional.  Towards the end of my Kinesiology degree I was certain that I wanted to pursue a career in sport specifically in coach. If only I could go back and explain to myself what life would be like.  Would I have given myself an epic high five? Or would I have absorbed the information and  transferred colleges into business?  Who knows but at this point I have been committed to my path.  Even when I was in Korea teaching English I was still focused on gaining knowledge on coaching, pedagogy, athletics, sport, and the development of athletes.  A pause from the day to day track side coaching but a huge experience gain in areas of communication, teaching, body language, leadership, and a lot of life experience that was the most valuable thing I could have ever asked for.

Combine a formal education, a few years learning how to teach, and a whole lot of common path coaching development and you start to see the pictures.  Attending 19 coaching certification/education events, 16 conferences, 5 HP warm weather training camps, more than 20 national championships, a world championship in 2011, and countless other clinics and situations where I was able to learn (which is all the time) and you get a clearer picture. All of these events, experiences, or shall I say opportunities have impacted by view point, my bias, my background.  Now, I know that all of these experiences are merely a drop in the ocean compared to a lot of individuals but it is a start.  It is my start.  I remind myself daily that I am still young.  Still developing.  Still learning the art of coaching – the artistic application of science to improve the performance level of individuals in sport.  Lots of hours and dollars spent to sit in meeting rooms, classrooms, and hotel convention rooms writing notes, listening, internalizing, reflecting, conversing, discussing, arguing, and analysing.  Lots of dollars and hours on books and videos.  Everyone and everything becoming a part of who I am as a coach.  Every opportunity looked as a way to build my tool box.  Every experience making me, hopefully, just a little more knowledgable on the depth of subjects required to be a coach.  Side bar – Honestly, how many topics are there for a coach to be proficient or at least have some knowledge in…100 maybe even a 1000? At some point you would probably just be breaking up areas into more and more specifics but the fact of the matter is that knowledge required to be a coach is not on the small scale.

So here I am asking the question to myself, “what is next?”  What should I do, study, read, listen to to improve my skills.  Lately, I have been reading.  Choke, Essentialism, Developing Sport Expertise, Anatomy for Runners, Caffeine for Sports Performance are the most recent titles that I have been able to read.  Earlier this year titles included Leadership, It’s Your Ship, Start with Why, and well the list could go on for quite a while. It definitely comes in spurts and the subject matter varies also.  Coaching, leadership, nutrition, technical, strength, the titles are all over the place in an attempt to build my knowledge across other domains and so far it is working or at least I am happy with it all.   Journals are still read, podcasts are still listened to, YouTube videos are still watched, and conferences are still going to be attended (next one is the CACC Speed & Power Conference in Toronto November 14-16).

But is this the best strategy? Am I pursuing and developing myself in an effective manner?  Is this the best use of resources (time and money)?  I guess only time will tell and maybe I should go back to the first question/statement on change.  Am I changing? Yes.  Do I think it is in the right direction? Absolutely.  Then that is all that matters.  All knowledge is good knowledge. The question then becomes am I smart enough to use that knowledge in the best way possible? And I certainly hope so.  So maybe it is best not to over think this and continue to take things as they come.  If something sounds like it will of benefit to me as a coach and help the athletes that I have the pleasure of working with then isn’t that all that matters.