I do not care what coaching cue is used or whether it is totally correct as long as it evokes the response I am looking for. I try to use a variety of statements to elicit the result I am looking for. I do not coach for what it appears to others; I coach for the result. In my part of the country we say the proof is in the pudding. That means if it tastes good, the recipe was good. If it tastes bad we don’t care where you got the recipe.
-Joe Walker Jr.
I read the super clinic notes again as I am doing video analysis for a few friends and trying to create a common language with the PDFs from Berlin and other competitions. It was a great cleansing to see pure coaching with now guru nonsense. Not attacking Wulf, but can we stop hyping the motor learning research that is riddled with design problems? Trust me I do think she has much to offer, otherwise I wouldn’t have the books in my library, but the more I visit coaches the less I see the motor research fully replicating the demands of our job. We need to do better here with skill acquisition.
I also feel like the coach gives direction, but the athlete must provide the excellence. We are not potters molding clay. We are more like someone at an archeological site that is getting rid of everything that is not valuable. Sometimes we cut, slash, and dig to get closer to the valuable treasure we are looking for. And, at other times, we use brushes and are very tender with our approach to discovery. Like the archeologist, however as we get rid of all the vines, the dirt, the trash that has covered up the valuable, we do not put anything there that is not already there.
Great analogy. Too much talk online of coaches doing things magically with therapy, coaching cues, and magical russian block phases that produce freaks. Coaching is a long and sometimes slow process and very similar to an archeological site. Like farming, the pace is not sexy and patience is key. Adaptations take weeks, and while learning is sometimes quick and nearly instant with some cases, most of the time after a few weeks things are not as instant as people want to believe. Just because one is saying something, doesn’t mean it’s working.
Once we have cleared away all that is not part of the valuable find, what is there can either be something that is a relic, or we could discover it is only a trinket. Like the archeologist, the coach can show the world what is there, but we don’t put anything there that was not there in the first place. As a coach we only expose the champion to the world if indeed there is one in there. The athlete is the Champion. Coaches just help get rid of everything that covers that up and help others see what maybe we envisioned earlier in their careers.
Too many coaches think they breathe life into Adam, (or fixing how Adam breathes with nearly no evidence of it working 30 days later, that’s another blog post) and I doubt coaches want to admit that we are just guides to the process and are mortal. I think we should make more lectures like Joe’s standard reading for young and experienced coaches alike and learn to be more mortal.
Note and Edit: I realize that my blog title is cheesy but just so you know Joe Walker is at Ole Miss and is a native Mississippi guy and was at Louisville now.. Brittney Reese won the Gold medal in the LJ at the recent WC and Olympic Games. Read the development curves as he is doing a lot with starting points that are not always world class. Great stuff!