My daughter/son has “so-and-so” as a coach.  So-and-so was All-American so obviously he/she will be a great coach for my kid.

I’ve learned, and I think most of you reading this might realize it, but just because you were a superstar athlete does not mean that translates into being a good coach.  Sure what you did as an athlete might help in numerous circumstances, but if you do not know how to coach it to athletes, it means nothing.

Unfortunately, I am many, many, many, many, many (you get the point) years removed from my athletic days.  I have been a coach now a lot longer than I was an active athlete.

That being said, here is what I continue to draw from my athletic playing days:

  • I can certainly relate to my athletes who play the sports that I played, especially track.  I know what a 400M race feels like.  That race will always make you feel a certain way no matter how good the athlete is. 

  • I understand the competitiveness that drives an athlete and what it feels like to play in high level sporting contests.

  • I try to find similar situations in my playing days that can be relatable to what my athletes are going through.

I’ll tell you though, there are a few things that I have to discard from my athletic days.  There are just better ways of accomplishing goals.  Here are a few of them:

  • The training we did back in the day is not as effective now.  Basically, research is out there and we should know better.  It can not be high intensity day after day, practice after practice.  Especially, if you are trying to train certain systems of your body.  If you do not allow for rest in key spots, you will have a subpar athlete.  It won’t make them TOUGHER.  It will make them TIRED.

  • You can not be a hard a$$ coach all the time.  Not with today’s kids.  But, you still need to discipline them when it is appropriate.  You have to develop relationships with the athletes (which is tougher for me as I get older).  Which in turn will develop trust.  But, if they don’t feel you care about them because you are always yelling at everything, you won’t get them as developed as you like.

  • You have to be more strategic about recovery.  Kind of parlaying back on what I said about high intensity days.  The research on recovery is a lot now.  You want these athletes fresh for their games and fresh for the end of the season when it matters.  You have to manage load throughout the season.  I have changed my opinion on piling on the intensity early on to be prepared for the post season.  I feel they will be too fried at the end of the season to perform well.  I’ve seen it happen.  I want to keep it manageable, continue to slowly build, and then when you need them they should be ready to perform as fresh as possible when it counts.

Bottom line is this.  Sometimes the great players just don’t make great coaches.  Maybe they don’t know how to relate to athletes that don’t have their same ability, desire, or will to win.  Maybe they can’t dumb it down very well.  

You have to adapt to current trends and times not just with training knowledge, but human behavior.  Can you say the same thing to two different athletes differently so that both can understand what you mean?  You have to be ready to do that.

If you can do those things, and only draw on your athletic career in specific circumstances, I think you will be a better coach for it.