It is said that coaching is the universal language of change and learning. It is the ability to create environments, processes, behaviours and mindsets within people to unlock potential and help them find success. Coaches can act as motivators, consultants, mentors, teachers, leaders and are more often than not major influences in people’s lives. They are dedicated, driven individuals who spend a lot of time and energy improving others, often sacrificing their weekends, evenings and holidays to meet the goals and needs of their students.
Seems like a lot to handle? It can be.
Young coaches often don’t have a full grasp of what a coaching career requires or looks like making it difficult to get started and to develop on the right path. So, we’ve put together some tips and advice as a guideline to build your coaching foundations.
Define your purpose and your why…
“What matters most is that your WHAT and HOW you do things is consistent with your WHY.” – Simon Sinek
Passion is infectious. Personally, I always considered myself passionate about coaching, tennis and helping people get better in any way possible, but it was later down the track that I figured out where it came from.
As a coach you will come across challenges which will frustrate, deflate and stress you. This is why it is vital to understand the reason and motivation behind why you coach. Without your why, your passion and love for what you do suffers and it won’t be long before you consider other career options.
Your why will change multiple times over the years as you change as a person, have more experiences and reach different life stages. That is okay as long as you have something that drives you and provides
direction with what you do on an everyday basis.
Knowing what we do and how we do it is simply not enough to bring the best out of yourself, your coaching
and in turn your students!
“You attract the right things when you have a sense of who you are.” – Amy Poehler
Take the time to reflect on your personal characteristics and gain a clear understanding of who you are and what defines you. This comes down to the values that you live by, the standards you set, your strengths, weaknesses
and life experiences. Knowing this information about yourself will give direction as to how you will coach, the way in which you build relationships with the people around you and the decisions you make when overcoming challenges.
Remember, first and foremost we coach people and then secondly our sport. Therefore, understanding yourself first means you can then effectively help and understand the people around you.
Invest in yourself…
“Investing in yourself first. Expect nothing from no one and be willing to work for everything” – Tony Gaskins
Most coaches when they start come off the back of their playing years. Due to this, when they begin their journey they start off coaching based on their own experience and how they were coached. Though this is a great starting point, being a good player does not necessarily mean that these individuals will be great coaches.
It is therefore important that you invest your time and money into developing yourself!
Research and get yourself involved in coach development workshops, conferences and relevant courses. This will create opportunities for building your knowledge, networking with other coaches and an understanding of the industry standards.
Remember to always have an open mind and keep a growth mindset! You don’t have to take everything you hear on board but instead pick and choose things that agree with your philosophy and are a true reflection of the game. Then, go back to your own environment, trial and error, and create a holistic approach to your own methodology!
Find the environment where you will thrive…
“You’re the average of the five people you spend most of your time with” – Jim Rohn
The same way we work to create environments which allows learning and growth for our players, the same applies for us as coaches. Where you spend your hours on court and the people you spend time around will affect your own development. As a young coach, work to identify and build relationships with already successful coaches in the industry and people who share the same passion as you then spend as much time around them as possible to see how they operate on and off the court.
Observe behaviours, the way in which they communicate, their professionalism, their ideas, their philosophies and learn as much as possible!
With any luck, in time, the relationship builds to the point where it becomes a mentorship and opportunities get passed down to you. Remember, get comfortable feeling uncomfortable! It will be challenging being in these environments and you may even feel some pressure to perform but it is a great way to fast track your coaching!
It takes time…
“Patience is the calm acceptance that things can happen in a different order than the one you have in mind.” – David G. Allen
Like anything in life, developing as a coach takes time…a lot of time. Quality coaches didn’t start off where they are now but instead have many years of experience, successes, failures, hard work, sacrifices and persistence behind them which we don’t see.
Stick to your processes, work hard, be proactive and consistent, have a growth mindset, position yourself in the best way possible to create opportunities and in time it will all pay off. It is a long journey and though things can become difficult remember that a coach will impact more people in one year that the average person will in an entire lifetime…and that is truly the greatest reward!