16 Jul You are your own best coach!
The post in front of you is meant for parents, coaches and athletes:
- for parents, so they will try to understand that one does not become an athlete overnight, but that it requires hours of practice and years of dedication. So that they will understand that a good practice session does not consist of the coach “bombarding” the player with information, but trying to guide them through their own feelings to the goal or the best final performance;
- for athletes, whose task is to feel what they do and not just blindly follow the coach’s instructions;
- and for you, dear colleagues, to give the athlete the opportunity to think with their head and to develop the coach within.
The dictionary defines the word “coaching” as »systematically training for a competition within a sports discipline.« Coaching is therefore a systematic attempt at perfecting technical and tactical knowledge, progressing in physical performance and consequently lifting the athlete’s confidence. This time I’m not going to focus so much on planning, but on understanding coaching as such.
When observing practice sessions of different athletes, I often get the feeling that the coaches act as cops or supervisors, who scream like a radio and correct the same mistakes over and over again. Watch this, move your legs, do this, why like this!?!? They repeat the same thing a thousand times. These types of practice sessions remind me of a circus clown, who keeps blowing his whistle, screaming and making a scene. The child can do nothing but listen to what the coach is saying and try to do as instructed. But by doing this, the coach does significant damage to a player, because he doesn’t give them the opportunity to think with his or her head.
People in the modern era are used to following. Many people would say that we are sheep. What someone tells us to do, we do and sometimes don’t even think, why we do it. We just do it, because someone whom we trust, told us so. It happens often to me on the tennis court. The players listen to my instructions without a hint of doubt and do as I say, but make no effort to internalize my instructions and try to feel them on a deeper level. I’m not saying following instructions is a bad thing, quite the contrary. I’m glad they don’t doubt them and my knowledge, but I sincerely want them to focus on using their natural senses alongside my instructions.
My goal is that they will later on be able to provide this knowledge to themselves, when they need it most. What is my point? I believe that there is no better coach in this world than an individual is to themselves. To teach an athlete self-awareness and to be able to guide themselves through various situations is, in my opinion, the highest stage of knowledge that an athlete can possess. If we teach them to recognize the situation, correct themselves and do what is right and important in that specific moment, then he or she has reached the highest level of awareness.
Only the athlete in that specific moment feels what they feel. Coaches can only imagine, what the player feels, based on what we see and how well we know him or her. Only they, after they’ve performed a move, know or feel, how it was, and they can then connect this with the knowledge they have and the situations they have already been in. Coaching based on awareness and internalizing feelings is necessary in top-level sports.
In order to bring younger players to this level, you have to work on specific segments. The coach must give the player specific instructions and let their feelings lead them to a solution that is best for them. There needs to be a lot of conversation, so that the athlete knows, what they did right or what to focus on next time. Talking to oneself or selftalk, which is being used more and more, is what every player should be familiar with and should be a state, where they themselves look for solutions. If they use selftalk in a positive way and give themselves instructions, then they are strengthening the coach within themselves. This coach is always on their side, is always there and helps the player find solutions in every situation.
I believe that we are our own best coaches. No other coach can help you as precisely as you can help yourself. Only you feel what you feel, only you are aware of your body and are in the best position to help yourself in any given situation. Work on being aware of all parts of your body, work on controlling your minds and work on the positive selftalk.