Building a coaching career: Sharing my story

hrvatska-makedonija1I would like to say that this post presents my current guiding principles. Even though I think most of the things listed later in the text will still guide me in the future, I hope that in the years to come I will be able to prosper and grow as a coach to see my job from a slightly different perhaps even better perspective.
My carreer has not been very long but I can definitely say that I’ve gained priceless experience by working with many different people and athletes; from young tennis players up to top class basketball players. During the team work I realised that it is sometimes very difficult to fully devote time to each athlete on the team. Group practices demand having at least several players in the gym or on the court at once. There is a way to individualize the training program but my opinion is that ‘one on one’ interaction between player and coach yields the best outcome. Thus, I have started to work as a personal coach as well. That is basically the only real way to evaluate your work and to see the athletes’ as well as your own progress. I mean, I love team work, but until I find a tempting team job offer, I can fully focus on the private athletes.
So, here are some of my ideas that may be helpful for you to become a better business person and coach.

At one international workshop, I had the great privilege to meet and talk to one of the top guys in the bussines – Eric Cressey. In a small talk we had he shared with me 3 things that led him to success. The very first thing he said was ‘I really love what I do for a living’. I definitely aggree on that one. Passion drives us everyday to stay focused and productive. Good business depends on your emotional commitment.

This is a must. It is really hard to build a career on your own without having a person beside you; a person to consult, discuss or debate with. If there is no mentor, find a colleague to chat with. For me maybe, the most important part of conversation with my mentor actually comes after the talk. It results in coming up with new ideas. Having your mind constantly buzzing with new ideas is the only thing that can push you forward.

Today it is difficult to get a dream job easily and be well paid for it. Private companies use their right to pay low salaries, at least that is a very common situation in my country. Sometimes, it is hard to cover all of ones living expenses with that kind of income and unfortunately it often leads to frustration and lack of motivation for work. All of my close friends have graduated from university but very few of them work at the place they really want to be. There is no easy road to your dream job. Start working during your studies, do internships for free and expect a low salary when you start out. Concentrate on getting the most out of every situation. Connect with as many people as you can; one day you might just get that all important phone call.

Read. Watch. Listen. Every day. Go to seminars and workshops. Put it into practice.

Strength and conditioning is a very important part of sport science. The best coaches in the field admit after their long careers that they can still learn more. Not everything is about lifting weights and running on the track. Understanding the principles of human functional anatomy, physiology , psychology, nutritioning and diet enhances the quality of your work and gives you a holistic perspective to understand each athlete better. Do not be afraid to leave your comfort zone. Learn how to become a better public speaker as well.

Ask yourself often ‘Am I doing everything during my practices that will eventually make my athlete perform better?’ A good coach, head or strength, is not the one who had an incredible career as a professional athlete before (I agree it can be helpful). It is about understanding the sport and each athlete you train. Tennis is quite a simple game when it comes to strokes. But every player has his/her own style of playing. Some like to hit hard serves and play on the net while others like to move quickly and hit from the baseline. In basketball there are players who like to shoot and others who penetrate towards the basket where contact occurs. Thus, it is important to understand your athletes ‘playing personality’.

Getting the most out of your athlete is impossible without effective communication. Understanding your athlete, both mentally and physically, is definitely a starting point towards big changes. One way communication where the athlete is always on the recieving end often results in a dead end for progress and coommunication. The athlete needs to believe in your program. Very soon he/she recognizes ‘what’ they do but it takes a bit more time to learn ‘how’ to do something correctly. However, constant talk about ‘why’ they do it makes the difference and brings the gratest benefits of your work. It is at this point that the athlete starts to connect the strength and conditioning work to the real demands on the court. For me, my job is all about that, enhacing the physical capacities and mental toughness for the highest performance.

To conclude, always remember the first rule:
To be successful, you have to have your heart in your business and your business in your heart. -Thomas J. Watson-

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