Coaches don’t need to be barking orders to get results
Coaching is perhaps the most important relationship in an athlete’s journey. A good coach will drive success, while a poor coach leaves everybody wanting more.
As an analyst at the Rio Olympics, I have watched Women’s Rugby, Men’s Volleyball and Women’s Basketball. At each event, I have been drawn to the athlete coach relationship. I am impressed by the different styles and personalities each coach exhibits, but I have noticed one common thread in these three Canadian Coaches who are best-in-class.
Each have an understated confidence, and each command a deep respect from their athletes.
Lisa Thomaidis coaches Women’s Basketball and is a self-declared introvert. John Tait coaches Women’s Rugby 7’s and prefers to be in the background. Glenn Hoag is no different. He’s the backroom architect who took Canada’s Men’s Volleyball Team back onto the world stage.
A coach’s job is difficult. When athletes win, it is because of their drive and dedication. When athletes fail to reach their potential, it is the coach’s fault. I’m grateful to have had many great coaches in both my athletic and professional careers.
I know the secret truth. Every athlete who as attained sustained victory on the world stage contains a deep love for their coach.
Coaches are the unsung heroes of the games. That’s why I’ve compiled a few insights – to help learn from the best, and help us all become better coaches.
Kreek’s Four Tips for Better Coaching:
- Focus on basics. A great coach knows how to keep it simple. Hoag built up the Men’s Volleyball program by instituting a rigid system of plays. “I focused on the process, not on the outcome,” said Hoag. Hoag believes in patience and hard work. This has delivered results and the respect of his athletes.
- Coach the whole athlete. A great coach knows that her athletes are more than just athletes. Thomaidis puts obvious effort into the athlete-coach relationship. “Coach Thomaidis has built a great program and provided mentorship and development experiences which have impacted me on and off the court,” said Basketball Canada athlete Kia Nurse.
- Make difficult decisions with care. When I shook Tait’s hand after the Bronze medal win, I could tell that he cared deeply for his athletes. Before Olympic competition, Tait found the selection of this year’s Rugby 7’s squad stressful. “While there was 12 really great conversations … there was four extremely difficult ones and painful ones.” A great coach cares deeply about his athletes, and does what he believes will be best for the team.
- Aim for accurate expectations. The best coaches know that expectations have a profound influence on performance. Each coach above has set realistic expectations for their athletes. Tait knew that Australia would be tough to beat. T.J. Sanders from Men’s Volleyball knows that the men are gunning for a good placement in tournament play after the round-robin preliminaries are over. Thomaidis knows that her and her team are expecting more than the 8th place finish in London. “I think for us the biggest challenge will be if we can live up to what we expect.”