Sports Coaches Need Mentors Too!

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I am delighted that this article has been contributed by renowned Physical Performance Coach, Grant Jenkins from propelperform.

Grant is a graduate of the famed Stellenbosch University in South Africa and has (among other sports) worked in both professional tennis and rugby.

He has a wealth of knowledge and experience, and has been good enough to share some of his insights into the importance of taking charge of your own (coach) education”.

Although directed at Rugby Coaches, this article is relevant for coaches of all sports, and at all levels of competition…

After reading this, I encourage you to explore Grant’s work (links above) and other valuable contributions to coach and player development.

So over to you Grant…

Recently, I was interviewed by Stuart Lierich in his live broadcast series – a fantastic initiative that addresses all things coaching.

During the interview we had a brief discussion on the value of mentors before addressing other potential pitfalls that could trap coaches.

Since the clip went up I have been asked to expand my thoughts on this topic so thought I’d write them up.

To give yourself the best chance to succeed as a coach, having a mentor is a great place to start. However, there are two other valuable sources of information that you could be losing out on. Read further…

The Mentor

Without going into too much detail (as there are plenty of articles addressing this elsewhere), having someone to talk to that has made many of the mistakes you’re about to make is fantastic.

Probably the most important aspect is having someone who has been around the proverbial block a few times is that they can keep you focusing on the basics, the fundamentals.

They don’t’ get caught up in the hype, they’ve seen it all before.

Personally, back in the 90’s, as a young S&C coach, I could stand on a Swiss ball as long as anyone. In fact, I pictured my own facility as having nothing more than a few balls and plenty of space. Why wouldn’t I? It was the latest trend…

My mentor, Mark Steele, reminded me to keep focusing on improving my teaching of squats, cleans and bench press.

Now as I mature as a coach, I’ve noticed my programs change less, are more stable, and I swing less with the trends.

So, find a mentor that has seen it all.

The Peers

I am ashamed to admit that it took me a long time to understand how much I could learn from my peers; coaches who were at a similar stage of the their journey, and similar environment, to me.

My attention was so focused on what the ‘elite’ were doing that I forgot to look around me.

Fortunately, realising that while two hours of ice baths, massages and IV fluids might be ideal, the fact of the matter was my athletes had parents who needed to get them home so they could eat dinner and do their homework.

The interesting part about this group of coaches is how willing to share information everyone is. At every level, in almost very sport, I have been amazed at how my peer group has been at opening up.

So while it might be far more sexy catching up with the professional coach who leads his well-paid athletes, see how much you can learn from the amateur club coach who can only access half the field, with bad lighting.

I bet you’re going to be astounded.

The Mentees

There are two major benefits with having people to mentor.

The first benefit is that the up and coming coach is often going to expose you to information. Yip, that’s right, they’re going to educate you!

Remember when you read everything you could get your hands on? Watched every VHS tape (stop reading now if you don’t know what that is) that you or one of your buddies imported?

Well, that is them now: thirsty sponges trying to soak up every bit of information.

Now some of that information might not be new. Sure, it’ll probably be repackaged, but the fundamentals will be something similar to what you learnt about a few eons ago.

This is a good thing because I bet there are good aspects to your programs that you have forgotten to include lately, and these mentees will remind you.

The second major benefit is that mentees will question almost everything you do (don’t bother with them if they don’t).

While they won’t cause you to deviate from your ‘tried and tested’ programming, they might expose a few ruts you’ve fallen into lately.

A benefit for you and your athletes!

Just remember, the goal of having a mentee is not to clone you, but give them some tools that will make them more successful.

So there we have it, three levels of learning that shouldn’t cost more than a few cups of coffee but will be invaluable in professional development.

Video Below!

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