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A simple question, but one that is loaded with meaning. Complete the sentence...
The role of the coach is...
And to kick this off, I will share my thoughts...
The role of the coach is... to help others fulfill their potential.
Of course, there is a lot more to it than that. Coaching is complex, contextual and complicated, but it is also fantastic. I believe it is important to think about the impact you have on others as a coach and celebrate all of the amazing things you do for other people.
I wrote a piece on this for a book I'm working on about cycle coaching, hence the specific references. Skip to the bottom for the TL;DR version.
What is a coach?
This answer will be slightly different for everyone. My definition (I am, after all, the one writing this book) is that a coach is two things: firstly, a coach should be an agent of net improvement. That improvement could come mentally, physically, technically, tactically, socially, emotionally or whatever other metric you care to name – but people being coached should be in some way better after a coaching session than they were before it. We’ll come to the second thing in a minute.
There are a million ways to make athletes better, some of which I talk about in this book, but a coach who brings improvements in one area and greater detriments in another (i.e. a coach who operates through fear, producing positive physical results but negative emotional, social and mental results) is, by this definition, not a coach at all. No coach can avoid the fact that riders will leave sessions mentally or emotionally strained at times, but these things should always be outweighed by positive steps in other areas.
The person who prepares a grateful elite athlete to win Olympic gold? They’re a coach. The person who leads a rugby club whose main activity is laughingly propping up the clubhouse bar and making friends? That person is a coach too.
This picture gets murkier when the aims of the coach and those being coached start to diverge. To use a cycling example, imagine a club whose riders have a history of going on to compete nationally and above. Imagine you have a group of riders who want to get on the national team. They sacrifice their social lives; they train in all weathers towards this goal. Now imagine that their head coach sees them having fun but making major mistakes in their riding and does nothing, placing a greater value on the riders having fun (social and emotional improvement) than on the riders correcting their mistakes (the physical and technical improvements that are required to reach national standard). Is this person still a coach? Maybe they are and maybe they aren’t, but what’s for certain is that they’re doing those riders a disservice by ignoring their stated goals in favour of others.
This discussion leads me to the second thing a coach should be: as a coach, your goal is whatever your athletes say it is. You may well know better than those athletes how to go about it (as a coach, you probably should), but you shouldn’t be trying to force them to aim at your goals and not theirs. This is the much talked-about notion of “athlete centric” coaching – what you want doesn’t matter. As an old boss of mine put it “A coach isn’t there to show everyone how clever they are. A coach’s job is to be the servant of the athlete.”
So what is a coach? I suggest that the following is as good a definition as any:
“A coach is an agent of net or overall improvement, where the direction of that improvement is set by the athlete(s)”.
"The role of the coach is" ...something which we get to explore within the meaningful contexts created by entangled lives of individuals who are working towards clarity around their aspirations.Of course, even when we first "show up" in a meaningful context, we're carrying a lot of baggage which shapes our initial perception of what coaching CAN mean for us, and without that baggage to give us some sense of what "coach" can mean, we'd be lost. Fortunately, just about everyone who encounters a context in which the question needs to be asked has already accumulated a vast wealth of relevant experience:
If we wanted to prepare for taking on a coaching role, we might well start by immersing ourselves in ever more diverse stories where we might recognise coaching. Our quest might be to find examples which challenged any tendency to settle on a prescriptive definition. For some that might mean looking at:
Note: this sort of preparation would not about working out how to pin-down a working definition: the idea would be to reach a point where we're just really suspicious of any attempt to pin down a definition that is outside of a meaningful context.With this immersion in "coaching" as life-experience, we can show up in a new context ready to perceive parallels and make connections with what "the role of the coach" could be. We're ready to explore our "possibilities for action" - to see what we might do which might give a whole new meaning to the role. Are we likely to find ourselves supporting the way-finding of others? Yes - but let's leave open what that might mean, and also the possibility of our role being rather more extensive, and let's make sense of that role with those who are seeking us out to be their coach!
The role of the coach is to maintain all the team. I am a retired coach of a basketball team. i know very well to how to perform as a team coach but now i am retired and watch the basketball games only on this website
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