As coaches we develop habits and daily rituals that often direct our day to day coaching. This can be a good thing as it keeps us consistent. But it can also limit our development and stifle our growth as coaches due not stretching our “Coaching Muscles”.
I have listed 5 areas coaches need to stay on top of to be the best at teaching speed at a world class level. Here is my speed training checklist:
#1 Know the Body
There is no getting around it. At some point a speed coach needs to understand how the human body functions from a biomechanical standpoint. They need to know how the energy systems affect power output and recovery. They need to develop a keen understanding of how the neuromuscular system reacts to stimuli. They need to see the connection between joint range of motion and dysfunction, and how tissue extensibility gets affected by the stresses imposed upon it.
The bottom line is speed coaches need to know how the human body does what it does. They don’t have to have a doctor’s insight but they have to have a view of what their instruction will cause the human body to react like.
#2 A Whip Made Out of Feathers
We have all had that coach that rips into our hearts and makes us melt into a puddle of fear. We play with apprehension because we know if we make a mistake the wrath is coming. Tough way to play and enjoy sports…
On the flipside there is the coach that is so nice they would yell at you if you made ten mistakes in a row and never hustled. This coach gives you the approach that you can do anything and the results will never be painful.
The key to coaching is to have a stronghold on when the whip must come out to hold athletes accountable and when the feathery touch must be used to hold an athletes confidence above the breaking point. Coaching is about getting the most of each player and not treating them all the same- because they simply are not the same. Each player reacts differently and how we approach them can either catapult them to new heights or shove them off the edge to failure. Take the time to get to know your athletes and what buttons they need pushed.
#3 A Strategic Approach
Far too often coaches don’t plan or have a strategy when going into battle. They wing it! This not only is a recipe for failure it becomes obvious to your athletes because they can see the lack of direction in your coaching. Regardless if you’re a track coach, soccer coach, or tennis coach there needs to be a game plan. The strategy you develop gives confidence to the athletes but it also gives you a roadmap. You know if the roadmap is worth staying on or if it s time to find an alternate route.
When you plan a strategy you take the combined knowledge you have gained of the competition and your athletes/teams capabilities and you develop a plan. This plan can be practiced and preached. It can be analyzed by your athletes and absorbed.
A strategy should always be apart of your overall philosophy because you never want to go away from what your foundational core values are.
#4 Weakness or Strength
We always talk about how important it is to improve the weaknesses of our athletes. We want to bring the weakness up so they athlete is less vulnerable to an opponent. I agree with this 100%.
The issue I have with many coaches is they spend so much time on the weaknesses they neglect to enhance the strengths. Great players have strengths that make them great. Their strengths are dominant!
I had an 800 meter runner several years back that was simply the fastest runner in the field. His endurance was his weakness so we devised a strategy that would enhance his endurance so he could use his speed throughout the entire race. But I never stopped working on getting him stronger in the weight room and working on top end speed. We raised his limitation but still prioritized his speed.
#5 Steal like a Bandit
I don’t care what anyone says. 95% of the information out there has been done before. There may be a different look to it but at its core it is not new. But if you come across something you have not seen before and it is effective you need to steal it like it is a million dollars.
I certainly am a coach of strong character and believe in honoring ethics in coaching. But when you see something that can help your athletes or team gain a significant advantage you need to find out how you can implement it into your training or program philosophy.
In recent years we have seen football teams and basketball teams have great success with a different style of play. It doesn’t take long before many team implement that strategy into their game plan. How often did Americans learn training techniques in track and field from other countries that were more scientific in their approach. It is simply smart coaching! Learn from other and take their ideas so you can enhance your athletes success.
Far too often coaches learn a style of coaching from their predecessor and they stick to it through hell and high water. The problem arises when that style no longer works or the coach doesn’t have the same attributes as their predecessor and the athletes don’t respond the same.
Coaching is about staying current, yet sticking to core values that are time tested. Coaching is about having the strength to believe in what you know is correct yet having an open door mindset to allow new changes to improve your program.
One of the hardest things for any coach to do is to swallow their pride and get their ego out of the way long enough to stop tripping over it. What makes coaches great is their confidence. What makes coaches lose is their ego, and of course bad athletes, but that’s another point. The greatest coaches seek greatness outside of their domain and mold it to fit in their world.