Thoughts on the State of Coaching


Last night on CSPAN I was watching a program broadcast from the Cato Institute on the state of the US Military focusing on leadership. The first speaker (sorry I don’t recall the name) highlighted some of the failing of US Military Commanders. Three items that he mentioned made me think immediately about coaching. They were 1) Ahistorical. 2) Technologically infatuated. 3) Culturally clueless. Let look at these in the context of coaching

Ahistorical – Most coaches that I talk to today have no historical context. They think that that everything is new, invented by some guru. I strongly believe that in order to know where you are going you have to know where you have been. There is very little that is new. For example vibration training in not new, it has been used for at least thirty years. Where did it come from? Howe was it used? Those are things we must know to make better use of it as a training method today. Understanding historical context always means that we will learn from others mistakes. Remember those that ignore history are condemned to repeat it.
Technologically Infatuated – We have a fascination with technology, with machines that go beep. The more dials, lights and cables the better. Wrong! Coaching is about teaching the athlete to be btter in tune with their bodies. It is not about bigger and better machines. The body is a very high tech machine. We are as Kelvin Giles says “performance engineers.” Coaching is high touch not high tech.
Culturally Clueless – Do we really understand the culture that we are working in. The athlete today at every level has so much more going on good and bad in their lives than when I first started coaching 37 years ago. I would love to turn back the clock on some things, but it is not going to happen. Our culture of affluence and instant results is the culture we must work in. That does not mean to compromise your principles, but it does mean being more aware. It does mean being a better communicator.

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Vern Gambetta

Vern Gambetta

Director at Gambetta Sports Training Systems
Vern is the Director of Gambetta Sports Training Systems. He has been the a conditioning coach for several MLS teams as well as the conditioning consultant to the US Men's World Cup Soccer team. Vern is the former Director of Conditioning for the Chicago White Sox and New York Mets. He has lectured and conducted clinics in Canada, Japan, Australia and Europe and has authored six books and over one hundred articles related to coaching and sport performance in a variety of sports. He has a BA in teaching with a coaching minor and an MA in Education with an emphasis in physical education from Stanford University.
Vern Gambetta


Athletic Development Coach & Consultant. Founder of GAIN Network. Proud dad. Love to read everything.
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Vern Gambetta

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