Thumbs up to Coaching


The anatomy of a great sports coach.

Toes – To inspire athletes it’s good to be energetic, to have a bit of spring in your step. This is easier when you’re on your toes (literally). It also helps to be ‘on your toes’ (figuratively) when it comes to new ideas, technologies, resources, feedback. SEEK THEM!
Feet – Great for a coach to be ‘out there’ with trying new things at training or in a match but also important to have a balanced approach and when required, keep the feet firmly on the ground.
Legs – Although not an essential requirement for a good coach, when used properly they can help to send a good message to athletes. If you chose not to use them and instead stand in the one place and bark orders from the side during training are you really being as effective as you could be? Move around!
Torso (GUT) – Regardless of its size, the gut is crucial in coaching. Use it to help make decisions and encourage the same in your athletes. Gut Instinct – it’s what sits at the opposite side of the see saw to the Brain. Requires balancing!
Fingers – Be careful using these if pointing to an athlete. Pointing one means there are 3 others pointing at yourself (unless you’re my uncle who lost one in a farming accident!). Worth keeping in mind if the finger point is partnered with a criticism. Don’t rely on crossing these to become a great coach, make it happen!
Thumb – Gets its own heading not just because it isn’t a finger (as any pre-schooler will tell you when they ask you how many fingers you have) BUT because putting it up and using it to encourage an athlete can be very powerful. Using both as well as a smile is just awesome!
Hands – These things are great for ‘lending a hand’ or offering a ‘helping hand’ to an athlete when required. Is especially ‘handy’ when brought together with the opposite one simultaneously and in rapid repetition to offer praise and recognition to an athlete. Can also be used on its own with fingers (and thumb) spread to meet with another person’s hand or with fingers and thumb clenched shut to make a fist and then once again met with another person’s fist. When this is done with a smile it is awesome!
Arms – These are useful for hanging equipment off of when walking from the car to the training area. Also useful for comforting an athlete by placing around the shoulders when required. Common sense required here!
Shoulders – Whilst important, these are not to be misused. At no stage should a coach feel overwhelmed due to ‘shouldering’ all the weight of responsibility when coaching. Before coaching becomes a burden get advice, seek help and get back to having fun and experiencing the joys of coaching!
Head – Very important when coaching. To have composure requires that you ‘keep your head’. Also let’s face it coaching would be tricky without a head.
Ears – Most of us (Van Gogh excepted) have two of these. Use them to listen to your athletes and also the parents of athletes. Really listen. What are they saying to you, to each other, to their parents? How can this make you a better coach?
Mouth – Not only are the words that come out of this important but crucially so too is the tone, the volume, the timing and the meaning of those words. Sadly, often this is used prior to brain (or gut) being engaged. One of the best uses of this body part is when the sides are curled up at each end. Not crucial that teeth are visible but often not avoidable when performed with genuine intent.
Eyes – Very useful for observing. Also compliment the ears wonderfully. Closing these during training or even a match can send the wrong message particularly if accompanied by snoring!
Hair – Highly likely that most coaches will be either losing this or noticing a major change in colour during extended periods of sports coaching. Really only useful for pulling out when frustrated.
Heart – Left this one ‘till last not only because it’s important to have a beating one but also almost just as important is ensuring it is used ‘whole-heartedly’. When the words, thoughts and actions of a coach come from the heart then pretty awesome things can happen!

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