What is a Good Coach?

Posted In: Blog Discussion

      • Vern Gambetta
        Participant
        Vern Gambetta on #16263

        I saw something online yesterday, I should have saved it because now I can’t find it. The gist of it was why an athlete would leave a coach that she had success with for an “unknown” coach. Then there was a poll listing some high profile track and field coaches asking the reader to rate them. My initially response was how absurd was this on two counts. First there are many “unknown” coac

        Continue reading…

      • Avatar
        Participant
        Craig Pickering on #90552

        The article was no doubt about Veronica Campbell, who is leaving the coach that took her to 2 Olympic golds, and 100m World gold, to someone who has no prior success (as far as I know!).

        Whilst I agree that there are many criterions to be fulfilled to be a good coach, an athlete picking a coach has to start somewhere. This is usually picking a coach with prior success, or picking a coach whose general ideas you agree with. I think going to an unknown coach might be a risk, as they might not have experience of working with top level athletes, and the various pressures that come along with being a top level athlete (although they have to get this experience somehow!).

        I do think that, particularly in athletics, coaches are ranked on how successful their top athletes are, as opposed to how good they are at coaching, but I cant think of anyway to get around this!

      • Nick Newman
        Participant
        Nick Newman on #90553

        Coaching should be based on improvement rate, consistancy and ability to stay at a high level. I don’t think performance in major championshiops etc should come down to the coach (unless he/she just wasn’t in shape).

        But for example, if an athlete failed badly at worlds but just a week or two before jumped a PR. The coach should not be blamed…as that is down to the athlete in my opinion…

        It depends on many factors though. It’s much easier to get an athlete from 12m – 16m in the triple at a young age than it is to get him from 16 – 17.50m when he’s over 18. Also, how knowledgable is the athlete the coach is coaching? Coach shouldn’t get all the credit if the relationship is two way…. etc etc etc etc…too man factors…

      • Avatar
        Participant
        Chad Williams on #90557

        But for example, if an athlete failed badly at worlds but just a week or two before jumped a PR. The coach should not be blamed…as that is down to the athlete in my opinion…

        In actuality, this is the exact situation you would want to avoid with jumpers. More often than not (95% or higher), competing too close to a major championship will run the risk hitting a big mark and the subsequent downfall that follows. PR’s in the jumps do not usually follow in succession (exceptions are youth athletes and vaulters) and typically need 4 weeks to reload.

        You see the same thing happen on the collegiate level. The guy or girl that hits the big mark late to make the NCAA’s usually ends up being the first spectator.

      • Avatar
        Participant
        Chad Williams on #90558

        My defintion of a great coach is one that listens well, is always learning, and works with the athletes strengths and weaknesses well. Both the athlete and coach should continually be working towards the goals of the athlete and do what is necessary and perhaps above and beyond to accomplish it. The approach should be a compromise of what is ideal and what works best for the individual.

        Since I don’t personally know many famous coaches, I can only speak to those whom I have encountered and whom I have learned from. The ones that stick in my mind, meet the criteria.

      • Mike Young
        Keymaster
        Mike Young on #90562

        More often than not there are personal or financial differences that cause a split between athlete and coach that have nothing to do with the actual ability of the coach or the coach-athlete relationship. This has been the case with most of the recent big name splits and in almost every case I’m aware of the athlete has suffered because of the switch.

        ELITETRACK Founder

      • Nick Newman
        Participant
        Nick Newman on #90564

        Yeah very true…

        That exact thing happened to Britains no. 1 long jumper AND triple jumper…

      • Avatar
        Participant
        star61 on #90566

        One important criteria for me is that the coach puts the athletes’ interests before his own. There are a few coaches out there (not on this forum that I’m aware of) who are self promoters and whose primary interest is their own career. Not that you shouldn’t be concerned with your career, but if using unproven, ‘novel’ training means, or excluding proven means, simply to promote yourself as something new and different, you don’t qualify as a good coach in my book.

      • Nick Newman
        Participant
        Nick Newman on #90567

        Oh there are certainly some self promoters on this website…and you really don’t need to look that deep into the site to find them.

        But i agree with you there…honestly though…Those coaches who truly do put their athletes first are very rare.

      • Avatar
        Participant
        star61 on #90569

        Oh there are certainly some self promoters on this website…and you really don’t need to look that deep into the site to find them.

        But i agree with you there…honestly though…Those coaches who truly do put their athletes first are very rare.

        You could be right, I don’t know everyone as well as you.

      • Avatar
        Participant
        W.E. Price on #90572

        If the webpage that Gambetta refers to is the following I don’t have a problem with the poll as provided.
        https://theviewfromthefinishline.blogspot.com/2009/10/how-are-they-selecting-coaches-these.html
        Some might be missing and perhaps my being unfamiliar with some listed would be due to not following that event. In one example I was surprised to see Darryl Woodson (an unknown perhaps) on the list assuming recognition for the work with Michael Rodgers and perhaps Bianca Knight’08.

        I guess I had some wonder in Hill’s basic argument with regard to mentioning Richards as a possible “defector” from the Hart group but I’m not naive to realize that is the way some sites go at it these days!

      • Mike Young
        Keymaster
        Mike Young on #90587

        But i agree with you there…honestly though…Those coaches who truly do put their athletes first are very rare.

        …and the athlete who takes care of his coach is even more rare IMO. From all my discussions with peers who coach primarily high-dollar event athletes or athletes making significant money in the sport, I think many would be SHOCKED to know that an alarming number don’t pay anything to their coaches. NOTHING. And they presume to call themselves ‘professional’ athletes. No one in their right mind would expect a good coach like Phil Jackson or Bill Belichik to coach their respective teams for nothing but many elite track athletes at the height of their sport are making very good money and still think it’s their coaches privilege to work with them. This is partly the coaches fault for putting themselves in that situation but the road goes two ways as far as this type of thing.

        ELITETRACK Founder

      • Nick Newman
        Participant
        Nick Newman on #90588

        Yeah i agree that some who can pay don’t…

        But…It easily averages out when you think of all the coaches who do get paid full time and don’t produce good athletes and who basically suck at program design and coaching…

      • Mike Young
        Keymaster
        Mike Young on #90591

        I think you’re referring to collegiate coaches. I think that’s a totally different discussion because there job is MUCH more than just coaching. Collegiate ‘coaches’ get paid for a variety of things that are far from coaching….they have to have a group that scores at conference / nationals, recruit, schmooze, fund raise, organize, track eligibility, do meet management, etc.

        Often times either their superiors may not know enough or may not care that they suck at program design if their athletes still produce on the track (which can quite easily be done without good program design at the collegiate level if you work at the right place and recruit well) and you do your other duties well. I’ve worked with some ‘coaches’ who were irreplaceable on our staff because of things they did in the office but they were absolutely horrendous coaches who failed to develop any athletes and lacked even the most basic training knowledge. Even if I were in a position to fire those people I likely would not have because they were valuable to the team in other ways.

        ELITETRACK Founder

      • Avatar
        Participant
        Craig Pickering on #90623

        Yeah very true…

        That exact thing happened to Britains no. 1 long jumper AND triple jumper…

        But Britains number 1 long jumper jumped a national record this year, and the number 1 triple jumper won his first outdoor world title!

      • Nick Newman
        Participant
        Nick Newman on #90625

        Ok…He’s been with new coach for how long? And jumped 8.26m how many years ago? So he’s improved 4cm in 3 years, been injured a lot, is as fast as Phillips and barely makes it over 8m in some meets. I wouldn’t say that was great progress or good development.

        And we all know about Idowu. That dude should have jumped 18m + years ago…And the only reason he won this year was because the jumpers who always beat him before are no longer jumping. He is great don’t get me wrong. but again, the new coach did nothing for him that the old coach that he’d been with for years didn’t develop already.

      • Avatar
        Participant
        Craig Pickering on #90646

        Maybe Idowu’s new coach has given him more confidence, or his prep going into the major champs has been slightly better, hence his better performances? Surely that would make the new coach a good coach?

        Im fairly sure Greg has been with his new coach since end of 2005, when his PB was 8.16, to now, when it is 8.30.

        Either way, any improvement in top level sport is a massive improvement, so they have both improved, in my opinion. Not to say this wouldnt have happened with their previous coaches – we will never know.

        Another example – lets say a sprinter has PBs of 9.98 and 6.46, with a World Indoor bronze from one coach, and then moves coaches, runs “only” 10.08, equals 6.46, but wins the World Indoors, an Olympic medal in the relay, and is much more consistent and less injury prone. Who is the better coach?

      • Nick Newman
        Participant
        Nick Newman on #90648

        I actually wouldn’t be surprised if Greg was pressured into leaving his old coach becuase he was somewhat of an unknown coach and UKA didn’t want their “future star” being coached by someone they didn’t know. Hence why most jumpers go to the same few coaches in that country. I think this happens a lot in track.

        And for you example, which was a good one and i know who your talking about. I’d say first coach was around during earlier stages of his career which may have resulted in better overall times but he also pushed the limits of the athlete which can course more injuries in themselves. So more injuries in that sense doesn’t always mean bad coaching.

        It also all depends on what time he ran in the indoor final for the bronze and what he ran for the gold and what the others ran. Maybe he just took advantage of an easier opportunity simular to what Darran Campbell did when he got the silver (or bronze?) medal in the Olympics but didn’t run very fast…

        So…hard to say who’s better…i think all 3 athletes could have done those things anyway by staying with old coach…

      • Avatar
        Participant
        Craig Pickering on #90659

        Greg wasnt pressured into leaving his old coach, Greg left due to issues with payment. Gregs old coach was not an unknown, but probably one of the most well known coaches within the UK, certainly 20 years ago – Tom McNab.

        I also think its a bit harsh to judge peoples medals on who was or wasnt competing at whatever championships – when I came 2nd at the European indoors, I ran a time that would only have come 5th this year, but no-one is taking my medal away from me. You can only beat what is put in front of you. Im the slowest European Junior champion in history!

        Your possibly right, all athletes might have achieved what they did if they stayed with their old coaches, but the change may have given them more confidence, or better fine tuning, and therefore to me is a positive. The athletes in question certainly didnt regress in terms of overall performance, so changing coach wasnt a negative.

      • Nick Newman
        Participant
        Nick Newman on #90669

        This comes back to the question, what are coaches to be judged by in track. Times? Medals? or improvements under them as coach?

        Had Mr. McNab produced top class talent recently prior to Greg? I am not aware. I understand that about Greg and money but many athletes are asked to leave certain coaches becuase of many other issues. I know of quite a few here in the States anyway.

        I agree you shouldn’t judge an athlete by who and who was not competing or times compared to other years etc but we were talking about coaches…and IF a new coach comes along and then within the next 1 or 2 the athlete wins a medal but runs slower than with the previous coach. How can we give the new coach some credit?

      • Avatar
        Participant
        Linas82 on #90700

        I think it’s not so easy to compare who is better, a previous or new coach. But I agree if an athlete feels more confident with a new coach then it gives an extra advantage for him. Anyway for me times would be more accurate indicator than medals if to compare coaches. Of course it’s not just a single time through a whole season, but some kind of consistency and great form during major champs as well.

      • Avatar
        Participant
        Jay Turner on #90717

        For me, the two most important factors in the professional ranks would be how good a coach is at “psychology” (the ability to stabilize an athletes’ emotions and also further motivate him/her), and most importantly you have to look at how the athlete progressed while with said coach. In my opinion, I don’t care what athlete you work with, and/or how fast they are running or how far they are jumping, etc.; if they are not consistently improving/progressing, then that’s a red flag for me.

        OK, we’ve discussed professional coaches, and Mike summed up a college coaches world (I fully agree with Mike’s assessment).

        What about on the high school level? What makes a good/effective high school coach? Does the criteria differ in a sprint coach than what you’d look for in a distance coach? If so, then how? What about if you were an Athletic Director and had two candidates for your coaching position, and BOTH were first time coaches, meaning you don’t have the advantage of looking at one’s track record. How would you distinguish one from the other?

        Thoughts?

Viewing 21 reply threads
  • You must be logged in to reply to this topic.