Coaching Skills – Execution and Success

Do You Want Success Or To Have It Your Way?

Oftentimes, coaches get caught up in having everything done their way. They have no flexibility or willingness to allow their athletes to do things differently. This can become an issue on a team, especially when the athlete is correct.

Let’s take a minute and examine the role of the coach from a standpoint of skill execution and success.

Over the years I have dealt with many athletes that have come into my training facility and complained about how their coaches were making them perform skills in such a way that they couldn’t perform very well. But they could perform the skill well with a little different technique. I do realize that many athletes don’t have a take on what is right and wrong, but for the most part I see where the frustration can come in. Just recently, I had a girl e-mail me about a movement technique that she does very well in volleyball allowing her to move well on the court.

Unfortunately, her coaches didn’t like it, because it wasn’t how they teach the technique. When she tried it the coaches’ way she was less quick and less productive. The movement pattern she was referring to revolves around the Lateral Gait Cycle that I have written on many times. She naturally had her feet come together when she was moving quickly. It caused her no problems at all, but it wasn’t how the coaches wanted it. This is a case of, “Do you want Success or to have it your way?”

This actually happened to me once when I was playing tennis in college. I played a very aggressive attacking style. I wanted to end the points quickly and get to the net as much as possible, mostly because my ground strokes were not my strong point. But my serve and volley game was strong. My ability to cover the net was very strong. The problem was my coach was extremely conservative and wanted patience and the points dictated off the ground strokes. We had actually met and talked about this. The difference between my college tennis coach and many other coaches was that he realized my strengths were what made me a competitive player. He allowed me to stay in my strength. Initially he would get on me about not being patient. Every time I tried to be patient and hit the ball out from the baseline, I lost my confidence and my momentum of the game. He finally swallowed his pride in favor of what was going to make me more successful.

When a coach is at the college or professional level they have the freedom to recruit or draft players that fit their style of coaching. If they want a fast-paced game, then they will look for fast-paced players. However, in high school, the mark of a good coach is when they can adapt to their athletes. You can’t turn a donkey into a race horse. You have to play to their strengths You have to apply the art of coaching.

Here is an important exercise that every coach should do at the high school level and below:

  • Evaluate the strengths and weakness of your athletes from the standpoint of athleticism. Are they quick, fast, or strong? Do they jump well and change directions well? What type of athletic team you are dealing with?
  • Next, you want to put them in game situations that force them to make decisions and use strategies. This will allow you to see if you have a team that can think their way through the game or if they are primarily a reactive team.
  • After doing these couple of exercises with your team, you will have a better grasp on what you can and cannot do with them. As the season progresses you need to make adjustments. Your team will grow and gain valuable experience, but as a starting point, you can base your offense, defense, and strategies off what you assessed in the first day or two.

    We need to always ask the question, “Do we want success or do we want it our way?” I know what I want. How about you?

    Yours in Speed,

    Lee Taft

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