The past two days I was in meetings reviewing the USA Track & Coaching Education program. A discussion with my friend and mentor Dr. Joe Vigil got me thinking about the process of athlete and coach development. We often focus on the process of developing the athlete that we forget the role the coach plays in the process. Athletes and coach development are parallel pathways. Coaches grow and develop the same as athletes grow and develop. Coaching is the cornerstone of athlete development. The athlete grows and develops as they move forward on their pathway to high performance. It is imperative that the coaches grow and develop along with the athlete to lead the athlete. The model is not very complex Frank Dick outlined it in his book Sports Training Principles thirty years ago.
- Step One- Basic Conditioning and all that implies
- Step Two – Basic Technical Model
- Step Three- Appropriate Advanced Conditioning
- Step Four- Specific Advanced technical Model
There is no definitive timeline to accomplish this. It is not about time; it is about timing, the mastery of various landmarks a long the path as stepping stones. The coach is the guide in the journey. At the beginning it is the coach who lights the spark that excites the athlete to begin the journey. The role of the coach changes in the process and eventually changes to the role of a mentor. As coaches we must challenge the athlete to grow and develop and eventually achieve independence. Systematic athlete development demands parallel coaching development. The coach must continually challenge themselves to be better the same way they challnge the athlete to be better.