Coaches as Experts, Part I: Would You Be Coached By Someone Who Has Never Thrown Before?
Last week I started reading a series of articles on my desk about coaching mental toughness in athletes. A wide range and variety of articles published in peer reviewed journals by some of the most respected and brilliant sports psychologists and researchers in the world. One of the articles that was sent to me by a friend was recently published in 2017, and spoke about a business coaching methodology and framework reformatted to be implemented with a group of elite level soccer coaches and their athletes. The focus of the study was to teach elite level soccer coaches in Europe a variety of ways to introduce and help develop the mental toughness of their athletes.
The methodology implemented in the study was adapted from the business model developed by John Whitmore, from his book titled Coaching for Performance: GROWing human potential and purpose, the principals and practice of coaching and leadership, 4th edition. I immediately ordered the book because the coaching framework makes a lot of sense to me. I’m always interested in learning more about how business models of coaching individuals and teams are applied to the sports world, especially for research. However, one brief section in the book caught my attention. On page 42, John wrote a very concise paragraph about the coach as an expert. One sentence in particular struck me, and I have been thinking about it since I read it. John wrote, “Does a coach need to have experience or technical knowledge in the area in which he is coaching?”
Over the next couple of weeks I’m going to spend some time digging down and really reflecting on the notion of coaches as experts in their specific fields of instruction. How much, if any, does prior competitive throwing experience really matter in the eyes of potential recruits and athletes at the collegiate and post-collegiate level? For example, would a Division I recruit not attend a specific college or university because their event specific throwing coach never threw in college? Would that same recruit commit to a college if they knew their throwing coach never threw, but had already coached XX All-Americans and X National Champions?
So, for those of you that are still reading, I pose a question: From the perspective of a competitive thrower, to what capacity, if any, would you feel comfortable being coached by someone with no prior experience as a thrower and little to no technical background knowledge in the shot-put, discus, hammer, weight throw, and javelin? How much does prior competitive experience really matter in the eyes of high school, collegiate, and post-collegiate athletes?
Stay tuned for Part 2 of this series.
As always, thanks for reading-Charles
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Dr. Charles Infurna
Charles Infurna, Ed.D., is the owner and lead coach of Forza Athletics Track Club. Dr. Infurna has coached National Record Holders, National Champions, All-Americans, and Conference Champions at the Post-Collegiate, Collegiate, and High School level.