When I first set out to be a coach, one of my mentors mentioned that I only needed to be “a day ahead” of my students to start. His advice was excellent. It encouraged me to get going. His suggestion was to teach some beginners in the park and not feel like I needed to be a master to begin coaching. Thankfully, this led to experience and my own mastery years later.
This, however, cannot be a lasting approach for any master coach. Actually, I’d argue that a key indicator of clout as a coach is the ability to “coach up.” The idea being that it’s quite easy to educate those with less experience, skill and understanding than you. But, what about those athletes who are stronger, faster and even more experienced than you?
The logic that all great coaches simply do it better and know it better than their athletes breaks down quite easily. If it were true, all of our best athletes would be coaches, right? And surely that’s not the case.
Does the only person who can coach Sam Briggs go by the name of Annie Thorisdottir? Are coaching efforts nullified for Derek Jeter unless they come from a Hall of Famer shortstop? We know full well this isn’t the case.
For all you coaches out there, I’d encourage you to take enough pride in your craft to gather an understanding of movement, a perspective of approach and an understanding of influence to coach those athletes who you aren’t “a day ahead” of.
One could argue that though you ought to still try to be your very best as an athlete, you don’t need to be the strongest and fastest in the gym to assume proper authority as a coach. So, coach, if a Games athlete walked into your gym today, would you have something to offer him or her?