What is a Good Coach?

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  • Vern Gambetta
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    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

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    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
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    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…

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    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.

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    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…

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    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.

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    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.

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    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

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    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!

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