Sunday, August 21, 2016

Thought for the Day - It's the Coach Stupid

If the Olympics has shown us one thing, it's the importance of a good coach in guiding the players to outperform. Whether it is Gopichand with P.V. Sindhu and S. Kidambi, Bishweshwar Nandi with Dipa Karmakar, Ishwar Dahiya and Shyam Budaki with Sakshi Mandal, the role of a coach in these success stories is too huge to be ignored.

So how exactly does coach help?

First let's look at the common perception that if the ward is talented, he or she will somehow make it irrespective of the coach. Though that may happen in extraordinary circumstances, it certainly requires far greater effort. Arjuna benefited from the coaching of Drona, Alexander from the coaching of Aristotle, Chandragupta from Chanakya - world beaters had world class gurus to guide them.

In today's world, it makes most sense to go and get a good coach at whatever you do. A good, dedicated coach who is keen to see his ward attain great heights is a huge element if you want to attain your potential and turn in better performances.

The Progression

Initially the coach evaluates you, your skill and your current level of expertise. Accordingly he gives you the required inputs. At beginner level a coach will focus heavily on skill, drills and correct practices in the basics. If one is attentive here, and has a good coach teaching correctly, much of the skill and craft can be learned. The smart learner will take the subject, practice it right, implement it and results show in performances. He or she will ask the right questions, take the basics to the next level and the coach soon knows that this ward is ready for the next level. The wards who fail at this level do not have the desire, the heart and the commitment to go further and they fall off.

At the second level, the ward has learned enough to perform at a higher level. Here the ward needs to know how to perform at an elite level. Though he may have the skill with him, his ability may not be sufficient to outperform many others who are also equally talented, hard working and better prepared. Here again a good coach can fine tune techniques, work on strengths and cut out weaknesses, organise the person's approach and effort, and mentally strengthen the ward to outperform at the second level. The training is more specific, goal oriented and need based. Once the ward understands how he can outperform his class, he can work on the areas and turn in superior performances. But to get ahead of this class he needs the coach to keep his errors at a minimum and his strengths at maximum. It's precise training to go past the 90% into the top 10%.

Fine Tuning
At the third level the ward is at the highest level and is constantly throwing in world class performances.There is little about the game and about the correction mechanism that he may not know. Here it is about the slightest of errors that could creep in, the smallest modifications that can help turn sluggish form into a world class performance. The coach only gives you the cue here, something you missed, and by just that much, you roar back in form. Like the story about the mechanic who taps the nut while repairing a car - here the good coach knows enough to tap at the right place and that's worth a career.

The cost of not having a good coach at all levels is clearly evident. In the first stage you miss out on good basics which makes your performance inefficient, at the second level it shows you a way out of going past your limitations and your peer group and in the third stage you learn how to bounce back from small errors faster with minor inputs. The time spent in coaching at the first level is the highest and at the third level the lowest and the value is inversely proportional.

Here are 10 reasons why anyone should get a coach and a mentor
A good coach
1) Can see your potential and lead you to greater possibilities
2) Can help strengthen your strengths and work on weak areas
3) Can build your confidence and belief that you have what it takes in you
4) Can show the way forward clearly and support you along the lonely path
5) Can spot things about you that you cannot see and make you aware of your unconscious habits and patterns
6) Can increase your awareness of the good and bad and help you prepare for all contingencies
7) Can spot minor errors in performance and help correct the same quicker before they affect your performance
8) Can discuss skill, theory, philosophy an hand it in bite sized morsels
9) Can hold your belief and faith in tough times, be your cornerstone in your quest for excellence
11) Can clarify the wrong connections you can make between the principle and process and set you on track again
12) Can make you a better person and help you achieve the potential you represent

In many ways a good coach is your friend, philosopher and guide. He will be able to help you become a better person. He will be able to help you win in life. So whatever you do, find that coach you can trust, that coach who knows and has your best interests in mind. A small 15 minute chat with him or her is worth its weight in gold.

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