Choosing a Coach isn’t always easy, especially when considering qualifications, experiences, results, costs and proximity.
Below are some guidelines Parents might want to take on for choosing the next Coach for your child.
Scout for coaches
. See which coaches are in your catchment area (depending on how far you want to travel). The closest might not be the best.
Gather (a few) opinions
. Call your local club(s) and see whom they recommend. Have a chat with parents and athletes involved in the sport and find out their opinions.
TIP: Don’t rely exclusively on any one opinion. It is quite possible that person’s experience with the coach was an ‘outlier’. On the other hand, where there is smoke there is often fire…
Have a chat with the prospective coach
. Find out what their priorities are. If they only talk about the results of their athletes, this is a red flag. You want a coach that is focused on processes, not results.
Ask to see the coach’s qualifications
. They don’t make a coach but it is a good start. Make sure they are relevant and up to date.
TIP: Don’t be impressed or intimidated with jargon. The better coaches will be able to explain their principles, concepts and philosophies in terms you can easily understand.
Do question the coach
. If there is something you don’t understand or agree with, follow up with a question. A good coach will appreciate the questions and not get defensive.
Watch some sessions
. Watch how the coach interacts with their athletes; and watch how the Athletes respond to the coach.
Use a coach that has structured sessions
. Make sure there is a warm up, a cool down, scheduled times for drink or a snack. Even better is if the coach has the session plan written down for the athletes to see.
TIP: Don’t use a coach that slams other coaches. Great coaches are busy coaches, and busy coaches don’t have the time to bother themselves with gossip and put-downs.
Listen to quantity of feedback the Coach gives
. Even at the top level, athletes can only respond to about three pieces of information. If your child is young, they might be only able to take on 1 piece of information. Any more and the Coach is 1) showing off, or 2) confusing your child, or 3) both.
Listen to the quality of feedback the coach gives
. Is it personal or vindictive? Is it balanced, constructive or negative?
TIP: Don’t be overly impressed if the coach is talking the whole time. Many of the best Coaches feel the need to say very little; after all, it’s about the Athlete, not the Coach.
Ask for some ‘trial’ sessions
. This is a great way to include your child in the process by ensuring they have a say on how much 1) they enjoyed it and 2) how much they learnt.
TIP: The best coach for your child is the one that help your child achieve their goals.
Grant Jenkins is a Physical Performance Coach based in Brisbane. Contact him via email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Twitter (@Grant_Jenkins)
(Photo thanks to Troy Pears)