So what makes a great coach or world class coach? Is it the people who consistently win prizes? Are they the trainers that land on talented individuals and then glory in their success? Is it those coaches that drive athletes to distraction? My experience is that the great coaches are often to be found in the most unusual places. They are the ones that have been able to withstand and survive the drudgery of the community team. They are the ones who are able to set up a competent team despite the lack of local support and the total absence of funds. These are the people that build relationships that last a lifetime. They get on with parents and athletes alike. Through this social capital and ability to relate, the world class coach is able to lay the ground for the glory of the athlete. They are an instrument in the wheel of fortune that is competitive sports. Quite often they will not be acknowledged but their satisfaction is the athlete that finally comes into their own. It is a glorious thing to get miracles from nothing.
This is not to denigrate those who have been coaches and have achieved moderate or even great success. They are part of the industry but we cannot in all honesty refer to them as great coaches. That accolade is preserved for the select few that have the ambition, drive, vision and organizational skills that are required in order to deliver top grade performances. You may be reading this and wondering why so much attention is being paid to a coach that is supposed to be in the background. The truth of the matter is that we are never quite there when it comes to sporting prowess. The natural talent can only take you so far. These sports (regardless of whether it is football or not) require technical skills that will definitely be beyond those that have not bothered to hire a good coach. In this business the early bird always catches the worm and the rest are left wondering what happened. Therefore right from the outset, you as the parent or guardian should take care to select only those coaches that are going to get the best out of your child.
We believe that the fundamental duty and responsibility of a world class coach is to get the best out of the person that they are looking after. They are able to make them perform regardless of the individual weaknesses and failings that this young person may display. Of course the skills of the world class coach mean that they are not hindered by age barrier. These are people who are able to explore the widest range of potential clients and cope with the unique demands that they bring to the table. They are the guys that are not held back by circumstances or the environment. Their innovation and creativity allow them to find success in the most unusual places.
Coaching is not only a theoretical concept. It must be practiced through interactions with the athlete. The starting point of a world class coach is to acquire the necessary skills and experience in order to be able to instruct an athlete with relative confidence. However this cannot be the end of the story. The end point has to focus on the ability to deliver results. It does not matter how many sports science books you have read or how many matches you have worked. If your athlete cannot perform on the pitch then you will inevitably be written off as a bad coach. That is why perfectly competent people keep getting booted off premier league coaching teams after a spate of unexpected defeats. In the modern word the coach takes on different roles, way beyond what they may have learnt in school or come to expect as a result of their professional training. Coaches are now strategists, planners, counselors and friends. At other times they are enforcers and disciplinarians. After a particularly painful defeat, the coach may also become a psychologist of sorts; keeping the mental side of things going until the crisis is over.
Already we can see that world class coaching is about practical things. It is about connecting on a personal, group and community level. These are people who speak and need to ensure that they are listened to. They constantly review their tactics and perspectives as the circumstances demand. However, their core principles and basic decency are never in doubt. The players can rely on them because they know that they do not let people down. The coaches are team players but also occupy an authority role which means that their personal conduct must be exemplary. With all these demands one would be forgiven for wondering why any same person would want to become a coach! The reality is that coaching is one of the most rewarding professions out there. It allows you to glory and revel in the achievements of some of the greatest athletes that the world has ever seen.
Darren Laver (DOC of the ISSA)