Today I'm going to write a post based on another post...if you want to check out the article here is the link http://www.huffingtonpost.com/anne-josephson/35-secrets-of-brilliant-c_b_5619075.html?utm_hp_ref=tw
I've already talked about some of the things I've learned since I've started coaching. And we all want to to know what makes special athletes and coaches great. We want to quantify exactly what it is so we can install this in other 'ordinary' people and find the best coaches for our kids. In this post they discuss 35 secrets of brilliant coaches. I've had the pleasure of working with and being coached by some great coaches. So these people have helped shaped me as a coach and is how I've constructed a lot of my coaching philosophies. I know I'm still young for a coach and still have a lot to learn, but I have a few thoughts about the article I'd like to discuss.
The list in the blog is pretty good and hard to argue with any of the points. I think the #1 is the most important. That the person is cherished as a person first over the athlete (but they don't mention treating all the athletes equally regardless of skill level). I also think the motivating and seeing the big picture is essential. When you're a kid this is normally quite challenging to do.
The #7 point has a fascinating example as I'm currently reading a book on John Wooden. This article's point is about how a coach is obsessive with the basics. The basics are important, but the explanation the use is pretty funny. How John Wooden would spend the first practice showing the kids how to put on their socks properly so they wouldn't get blisters. In the book I'm reading he says they would wear 2 pairs of socks, 1 of which is wool if I remember correctly. I don't see the NBA guys doing this anymore, so maybe the basics weren't that crucial after all!
I don't know if I consider showing the kids how to put their socks on properly as fundamentals, but if we look at Ramy as an example, yes he is a freak of nature, and he absolutely has amazing fundamentals or he wouldn't be where he is. But if he grew up in England hitting 90% straight drives he may have quit squash out of boredom or never created his flare and unique ability. This is where i feel you have to know your athletes and let them play the style of squash they enjoy. This may not translate into more success (especially in the short term as they experiment with shots), but if you try and get an attacking player to play patient squash they will not be satisfied for long even if they are winning. So I think a point should be added on the article about appreciating and encouraging creativity.
A couple of other things I feel should be on this list. Especially when you're working with kids I feel it's crucial to give them a break and cut them some slack sometimes. We cannot hold grudges because a kid misbehaved or said something inappropriate. It can be hard being a kid and growing up and sometimes we don't know all that is going on behind the scenes. So I think we have to be able to read body language and be a good listener (which is on the list) so they feel comfortable and safe talking to us about it if they wish.
The other thing I've noticed from the coaches I've worked with is that they will always make time for you no matter what. They are also always motivated, upbeat, energetic and in a good mood. This can be challenging from time to time if you're working longs days and on court a lot, but when you work with good young kids it's usually pretty easy to do. There's nothing better than being able to help shape a young persons future and squash game and to know you made a difference. On this note, I don't know if this deserves to be on the list, but is something I admire in coaches. When a coach doesn't seek the spotlight or any gratification for their work with an athlete. They are happy to let the players take all the credit and are humble and gracious regardless of the outcome of their athletes.
So if your coach brilliant? Do I consider myself a brilliant coach? Well I don't think about it and if I said yes well that's a little too conceded for my personality. Yes I know I write a blog and I guess this means that I have stuff to write about that I feel some people will value. This is why I didn't actually write my blog for a long time, I don't like the spotlight or want any attention. But eventually I realized that's a selfish way to think and that I had the ability to do something extra and help some people.
As a coach I just keep trying to do my best and find ways to motivate and help my athletes improve and have fun. Yes this blog was written with that purpose in mind. I know experienced coaches can make coaching look simple, just like good squash players do. But it's a skill that takes a long time to develop.
Unlike improving my my own squash game, becoming a better coach is not for myself but for the kids I work with and I guess now also for all of you that are reading my blog posts. So I hope I can continue writing about engaging topics and expanding upon your squash knowledge. If you haven't already done so you can like Serious Squash at www.facebook.com/serioussquash. Plus if there's a topic you want me to write about let me know.