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Science vs. Art of Coaching

Flotrack has a good, short video with Jack Daniels on this topic.  Mr. Daniels states that “if you go strictly scientific without considering the athlete’s emotions” you can lose the commitment of the athlete, which is very important because “it’s easy to prove a coach is wrong” by not performing well.

In considering coaching mastery, this relates back to the importance of trust in coaching.  Mr. Daniels continues that it’s pretty clear what type of physiological response you get from each type of training, which could be called the science, but knowing how much (withinn the workout and over time) and when to do what type of training for best results is the art.

Taking a closer look at the Attributes of a Master Coach, items 1-3 are pretty straightforward and could be considered the science of coaching…

  • Has obtained and maintains a high level of technical expertise in the area they are coaching.
  • Can accurately assess an individual’s capacity often before they can and seeks to leverage this capacity for success.
  • Sets the bar appropriately high for long term goals and breaks those down into achievable intermediary targets.

…while items 4-8 are a combination of applying the science to the infinitely complex and unique human being the coach is working with.  It’s these people reading and relationship building skills that are the art of coaching and provide the context in which to apply the science.

  • Collaborate on ways to close the gap between current skills and targets.
  • Motivates people to continue the work that leads to higher performance levels.
  • Implements feedback loops to keep track of progress against targets and enabling refinement of the plan as necessary.
  • Fully invested in the coached employee’s (or athlete’s) positive outcome.
  • Presents self as a role model for success and achievement.

Just as there are many roads to a destination, there are many ways to coach well.  Some are heavier on the science, while others go heavier on the art.  In the end, you need both and the faith of your coachee.

Click here for the rest of the interview with Jack Daniels.

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