It’s ALL connected!
Science is concerned with analysis - the process of reducing a complex system into its constituent parts and dealing with those parts in isolation. Philosophy is concerned with synthesis - the process of reconstituting the whole from its parts. Analysis and synthesis (like science and philosophy) are complimentary processes; they can be considered separately, but they can't truly be separated.
Coaching is the ultimate science-philosophy / analysis-synthesis partnership. A good coach must be well-versed in many disciplines - biomechanics, anatomy, physiology, nutrition, motor learning, pedagogy, psychology, etc. A great coach knows how all these different disciplines interact - how they all come together.
Coaching is not just multi-disciplinary - it is inter-disciplinary.
Get Stuck In!
At some point, you need to put the book down. Stop surfing the web. Stop going to Conferences. Stop emailing coaches. It’s time to Figure it for Yourself.
If you want to get good at anything where real-life performance matters, you have to actually practice that skill in context. Study, by itself, is never enough. Just get to work!
Start - and finish - with WHY
Great coaches have purpose. They have an unending thirst for understanding the whys of the whats. Our why is the guide that provides direction to our what.
Without it, we can get lost at the first bump in the road
But with it, we can traverse any climate.
Do not be afraid to modify your whys over time: a coaching philosophy is a life-time deal. Great coaches are not afraid to tweak on the fly. Creativity, flexibility, and experimentation are the hallmarks of great coaches - no matter their experience.
If you are doing today what you did a decade ago, that’s a big problem.
Figure out what makes your athlete perform well. Ensure he or she is doing this type of work when it counts (in and around competition). It is imperative that the type of work the athlete is doing in and around competition is in his or her wheel-house.
It is imperative that the athlete can create a strong emotional bond to the work he is doing.
Sport is an extension of the athlete’s being. We must find work that does not fight this bond. Stick with work that the athlete is good at. Comfort and success feeds confidence.
90% of everything is crap.
...kinda like the Pareto Principle, but with less ambiguity.
Speaking of crap…
The day after the English Premier League ended, Tottenham Hotspurs manager Tim Sherwood got the sack. Here’s what he had to say:
"It was a massive learning curve, my first opportunity to manage...I've seen wins, defeats and draws and I've seen a few tantrums - and the sack, which I didn't want to see. Would I do anything different? Probably not.”
- Tim Sherwood
Possibly one of the most ignorant sentences I have ever read. And sums up so much of coaches in professional sport, and the merry-go-round that continues.
...all that is wrong with coaching in professional sport summed up by a muppet who no doubt made more in his short coaching stint than I will make in my entire career.
"Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge"
- Charles Darwin
The Dunning Kruger effect basically states that the poorest performers are the least aware of their own incompetence (my Stu-ified version is “too stupid to know you’re stupid”).
We talk a lot about the athlete gaining a PhD in their sport, but we must pick and choose who, how, and when to educate. Too much information can often be worse than too little…
"One of the painful things about our time is that those who feel certainty are stupid, and those with any imagination and understanding are filled with doubt and indecision."
– Bertrand Russell
…and finally, a poem:
From quiet homes and first beginning,
Out to the undiscovered ends,
There's nothing worth the wear of winning,
But laughter and the love of friends.
- Hillaire Belloc