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Coaching in 2012 has some different demands that when I started coaching in 1969. In so many ways how we meet those demands and adapt to the changes in society and sporting culture will determine our effectiveness as coaches. Here are three areas that I see as particular challenges today:
Increasing Specialization – For whatever reason there seems to be more coaches who are specializing in narrower and narrower areas. I still maintain that it is best to specialize in being a generalist. To ultimately prepare your athletes it is important to have command of the big picture, to know how all the pieces fit. Narrow specialization does not allow this.
More Emphasis on Science and Technology – Science has given us the ability to measure & see things as never before but the challenge is to determine what is relevant and what is a curiosity. Coaching demands a balance between art and science. We must be careful that we do not become so dependent on science and technology that we lose sight of the art. Remember that coaches, like artists hone their craft, they practice and adapt constantly. They achieve greatness through attention to detail. Constant challenge and refinement fuels their passion.
More Management Responsibilities – Certainly the world around the coach and athlete has become more complex. There are more people involved in the process of athlete development than ever before. In many cases the effectiveness of the coach is measured by how effectively the coach can manage all the external factors so that they can effectively coach the athlete. Today when the athlete is near or at the elite level there is an entourage that must be constantly reminded that the goal is to help the athlete perform at their optimum in the competitive arena not to get more endorsements or a larger contract. That will come with performance. It is imperative that the coach has command of this. It is not the most fun part of coaching or the most gratifying but in today’s world it may be most important.