What Makes a Good Coach?

So what makes a good coach? Is it the framed pieces of paper hanging in an office or, is it the results produced by the athletes under the coach’s tutelage?

In no other sport but running, does it seem that a “certification” is so important (except maybe Crossfit). In the sport of running, anyone who is willing to pay $150 and go sit in class for two days, can become a “certified running coach”, via either the USATF or RRCA, etc.

Personally, I find this funny for two reasons. 1.) Any Sally Soccer Mom who happens to “like” running, can go out and get one of these certifications, yet, never produce a single result in either their own running and or their athletes. 2.) In no other sport, baseball, football, basketball, etc., does a coach need or have the need for a “coaching certification”. Take a look at any ball sport coach, from pee-wee league to professional and, see how many of them actually have any coaching credentials (as far as having something on paper that says they are now a COACH).

Hell, even in running, it seems that credentials, are only a topic when it comes to coaching “amateurs”. You look at renowned coaches like Lydiard, Canova, Squires, Bowerman, etc., none of them had any spectacular credentials. Hell, some of them had/have no credentials AT ALL!!

On the other hand, I know several (some personally) PhD holding coaches who, couldn’t coach themselves or an athlete to run across the street without getting hit by a car. These guys/gals have more paper credentials than you could imagine. They understand the theory but, when it comes to application, they haven’t a clue.

To me, a coach is one that is passionate about not only the sport but, also about the athletes. The coach that cares 100% about the well being and health of the athlete, not just about their performance. Also, a good coach is one who should, be producing results but, more importantly, getting the best out of the athlete, yet, making the journey fun and rewarding in many other ways off the field, track, court, etc.

Personally, the best coach I ever had, was a man who knew how to get the best out of his athletes, both physically and mentally. Over his time, he was a track coach, football coach, basketball coach and, a PE coach. He was successful in all endeavors, not because he knew everything about the sports that he coached but, because his athletes believed in him and because he believed in them, they were willing to kill themselves to perform up to that belief.

A good coach is willing to continue learning and broadening his/her knowledge and understanding of the sport in which they coach. They are willing to test any theory, idea or principle on themselves first, before ever applying it to their athlete. More importantly, the coach needs to be able to make an athlete believe in themselves.

If you’re in a position of wanting or needing a coach. You should talk one on one with them, as well as speak to some of their athletes. If the athlete is happy in life and their performances, then chances are, you’ve found a quality coach. Also, respect one’s credentials and certifications but, at the same time, understand that they are just paper. The knowledge and understanding often comes from experience and practical application.

Happy Hump Day and Happy Training/Racing 🙂

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