Working with a Coach
Over the past few weeks the Winter Olympic Games have been held in South Korea and at every event the athlete’s Coach has been present. This made me think about what role the Coach plays and when you should start to work with a Coach. Having been a very competitive archer I should like to share with you my views on ‘working with a Coach’.
Firstly how soon should you start to work with a Coach? As soon as you want to improve your performance. This can be only a few weeks after completing your beginners course or when you are transitioning from being a ‘social’ archer to wanting to be more competitive. Many archers will seek their own individual Coach to work with and some may use a variety of Coach within their club. If your club has a Coaches(es) they will have skills and knowledge to help you - listen to everything they have to say and discuss their suggestions for improvement with them.
The role of the coach is to create the right conditions for learning to happen, to improve sporting performance and help the archer reach their full potential. However, coaches bring so much more to the role than just achieving results they will also help you get even more enjoyment from archery.
Consequently, the role of the coach will be many and varied, from instructor, assessor, friend, mentor, facilitator, chauffeur, demonstrator, adviser, supporter, fact finder, motivator, organiser, planner and the Fountain of all Knowledge.
So how does all this translate into day-to-day coaching? Well here are just some of the roles that sports coaches are asked to play:
· Assessor and advisor — Coaches need to be able to assess an archer’s performance and advise on which areas need to be improved. The advice given by a coach may also cover training recovery, working with injuries, nutrition, and developing a positive mental attitude.
· Role model — Coaches must understand that their archers look up to them, so it is important that they ‘practice what they preach’, have integrity and behave in a way that is respectful to their sport and those around them.
· Mentor — Many coaches will also find themselves working as guides. The role of a mentor is to guide a less experienced person by building trust and modelling positive behaviour. While coaches need to look after their archer’s health (physical and mental) and their safety, they will also need to get ‘tough’ with their mentee and challenge them from time to time.
· Confidante — Archers are not superheroes. At some stage, they will be disappointed with their results or experience personal issues that may affect their training. An archer’s coach will provide vital support. It is also important that anything discussed in confidence during these times remains just between the coach and archer.
· Motivator — When the chips are down, and their archer is feeling a little flat, a coach can provide them with some much-needed motivation. Motivation at its bestis used to keep propelling archers forward, which is why coaches should spend most of their time providing motivation. Most archers are highly motivated and therefore the task is to maintain that motivation and to generate excitement and enthusiasm.
· Cheerleader — One of the most enjoyable aspects of coaching is celebrating success. Whether it be winning a medal, a final, or simply celebrating a new personal best, it’s important for the coach to celebrate alongside their archers.
Good coaches are not only called upon to improve their archer’s performance but to also encourage positive thinking, teamwork, resilience, a good work ethic, and respect and love for the game. Coaches play an integral part in development, and the influence a good coach can have on their archer’s life can go way beyond the sporting field.
Whether it is a novice archer only weeks into archery or an archer preparing for the Olympic Games, the primary role of a Coach is to provide a unique opportunity to make a difference in someone’s life.
Therefore, you can see that it being a Coach is a very difficult task and requires a very special person. The relationship the Archer has with their Coach is pivotal to improving performance and the choice of who you ask to be your Coach is key to making that relationship successful.
If you want to learn, improve your performance and fulfil your potential then identify someone you respect and trust to work with as your Coach. It will definitely be worth it!
Moira Taylor - Scottish Archery Director of Coaching