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PROTRACK » Coaching & Training » Recognising a great coach is not rocket science

Recognising a great coach is not rocket science

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For those of us who have a 'LinkedIn' account, there's a group relating to track & field that often has some interesting discussion about a range of matters relating to athletics. Often the discussion threads are based on USA collegeĀ  & high school issues. But there are several threads that are training related or have a general all-round theme.

One of the regular contributers is a guy named Robert Marchetti. He recently wrote the following:

"I want to chime in with one more point here. If Jerome Robinson is reading he can probaby back me up on this.

I talk to coaches all the time. We talk track. One of the things that irks me is not recognizing greatness in methodology no matter what areas. When I was in my 20s I used to train at Princeton University in the off seasonn with a group of athetes led by Norm Tate, who was coaching a club there. Jerome was in the group, and so were a group of world level runners.

The group atmosphere there was immense. The way Tate pushed buttons was brilliant. Jack Pierce was in that group, he won a bronze medal in the Olympics about 2 yr later.

I often talk to coaches and some will say "Oh Tate doesn't know enough about this or that, he's not science based" blah bah blah.....

Jack Pierce ran 12.94 in hurdles. So I always ask them, "how much faster should he have run if the coach 'knew what he was doing?' Should it have been 12.23? 12.22?" That's ridicuous. He was a bronze medalist. He went from being a 13.3 hurder to 12.9.

People in this sport don't understand sometimes how important it is to be an intense coach and have the desire to will athletes to push. Norm Tate is a great coach. GREAT. I learned more about coaching watching that guy run a practice than any book I have ever read.

You can run around the country going to every seminar that every coach does, and read all the literature you want. You are getting 50 percent of it. The other half is intensity. Accountability. Sometimes frankly, kids will be ticked off at you. If you are in it to be popular at all times, it's time to rethink. You are not doing the job if you don't create an atmosphere of respect and integrity. You have to deal with egos in runners who sometimes have larger than life ones.If that means upsetting the apple cart, then that's what it takes."

Often I hear how a coach is flawed because he is old school; he lacks a scientific approach or is not up with the latest cutting edge methodology. Yet when the results of the 'old school coach are significantly better than rival squads, the argument then turns to - "yes, but his athletes would achieve those results with any coach". A dumb comment often made out of frustration & jealousy.

Like Robert says, people in this sport do not understand the (many) other factors related to coaching including the intensity & determination of the coach to drive the athletes to the success.

There's a lot more to coaching than simply adopting a program designed in a sports science laboratory or copied from a text book. There's many intangibles that will never be covered properly in a text and can only be gleaned from experience.

It is funny that those who do tend to criticise a coach for lacking a sports science based program have generally never had the success of those they criticise.....And never will, until they can replicate the desire, determination & intensity that is exercised by the 'old school' coach.


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Last edited by Admin on Wed Jan 25, 2017 3:40 pm; edited 1 time in total

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