by Mike Davenport, CoachingSportsToday.com
Coaches aren’t born knowing how to coach.
Why would anyone make an assumption that coaches DON’T need to be taught how to coach?
Why would I assume because I’m competent at one thing, like making a PB & J sandwich, that I know enough to be competent at the next level of difficulty (souffle) — without some help?
Drivers are taught.
Doctors are taught.
Teachers are taught.
Coaches, not so much. (Did you know that that United States is one of the few developed countries that does NOT have a national coaching education program?)
That is about as crazy as it comes.
Nature vs Nurture
There has been this ongoing debate — mostly in human development fields — about this thing framed as nature vs. nurture.
The nature-camp says that successful people are born with traits that make them successful. The nurture-camp counters that successful people are successful because they were nurtured, taught in a positive environment.
People much smarter than I have weighed in on this and have written and spoke quite vigorously on both sides. I believe — from what I’ve seen going on in the work place — that a combination of both is the key, but a heavy dose of nurture (the environment) sure does seem to make a difference.
My belief, exactly, is that a coach is not a born coach. Bill George, in his book Authentic Leadership, wrote,
. . . leaders are not born that way. Many people have natural leadership gifts, but they have to develop them fully to become outstanding leaders.
An athletic person needs to learn the specifics of his sport, as someone with math sense needs to learn calculus. Top golfers practice thousands of hours and continually gets instruction on how to do what they do well — better. Coaches need to do the exact-same-thing.
Effective learning takes action, a specific type of action.
Buying a book from Amazon is action. Yes, reading that book is action also. But those actions are shallow-learning steps. (I bet if you look around your desk/office you’ll see a dozen of those books sitting in your *To Read* pile. Right?) Shallow-learning in process.
We all do that. Ah, but not many of us do the next step, one I call deep–learning.
Deep-learning is where you invest time and effort, going deeper than the money you just spent on the book, or video, or podcast.
Here’s what I mean. On my desk is a copy of Napolean Hill’s Think And Get Rich. You might have one kicking around, and you might even have read it. But I went deeper than just reading it:
1. I made notes all through the book
2. I reread the book focusing specifically on those notes
3. I copied those notes onto two pages of paper
4. I distilled those notes down into one sentence, “You CAN become what you think you CAN become.”
5. I put together a quick idea for a college course based on that premise
6. I pitched it to a dean at my college
7. He accepted it, and it become a college course entitled, A World of Wisdom from Mistakes and Failures.
That might not be your cuppa tea. I get that. But can you see how deep that went? Even now, years later, I can still see pages from that book in my mind, and I revert back to Hill’s ideas quite often.
Now, Take Action
Could you do something deeper with a book you picked up about your sport? Or about coaching? Teaching? How about from that recent YouTuber you just watched (forget the talking sheep one, how about the latest from Sir Ken Robinson. Oh, please, if you have 18 minutes go watch this. Your future-self will thank you!) Or your favorite podcast.