Parents Guide to Selecting Performance Coaches

Signs of a quality performance coach


UNDERSTANDS MOVEMENT Whether training for speed, strength or injury prevention, it’s all about movement. 

Only in recent years have most colleges hired strength coaches with movement skills backgrounds. Speed, agility, corrective exercise, and strength training; they are all based on proper movement patterns. A sports performance coach has to fully understand movement. To see it, understand the biomechanics & motor control of it, and teach it. Now more than ever, with athletes playing the same sport all year, it’s important that coaches understand movement skills to reduce the risk of injury. Athletes may no longer have the exposure to a wide range of movement and athletic skills. They need a coach who understands and can coach it.

COACHES A GROWTH MINDSET Too many talented athletes never fulfill their promise because of the wrong mindset.

Research into talent and abilities has identified two mindsets that athletes can have. These two mindsets are; a Growth Mindset and a Fixed Mindset. It has been repeatedly shown that a growth mindset fosters a healthier attitude. A better attitude toward practice and learning, a hunger for feedback, a greater ability to deal with setbacks, and significantly better performance over time In the growth mindset, talent is something you build on and develop, not something you simply display to the world. Almost every truly great athlete– Michael Jordan, Tom Brady, Tiger Woods, Mia Hamm, Michael Phelps — has had a growth mindset. Not one of these athletes rested on their talent. They constantly stretched themselves, analyzed their performance, and addressed their weaknesses.

Those with a fixed mindset believe that their talents and abilities are fixed or natural. They have a certain amount and that’s that. In this mindset athletes can become so concerned with being and looking talented that they never fulfill their potential. They look at obstacles as proof they have a limited talent. An athlete’s mindset is not set in stone and coaches and parents play a big role. Surprisingly, an over reliance on praising children’s athletic talent often puts them into a fixed mindset. Instead of instilling confidence, it signals to them that we can evaluate their athletic talent from their performance. It tells them that this is what we value them for. A coach can help instill a fixed mindset by focusing praise on the effort, attitude and strategies an athlete displays. Coaches should focus their athletes on the process of learning and improvement. To remove the emphasis from natural athletic talent alone. A focus on learning and improvement tells athletes about something that’s in their power to change. It tells them what they can do to bring about their success, and also what they can do to recover from setbacks.

MASTERS ART AND SCIENCE Today there are lots of social media trainers, but they are just impersonating real coaches. A true professional has knowledge of both the art & science.

Your athlete deserves coaching from experts in the science of sports and athlete development. They also should be skilled in the art of teaching and motivation. If your coach doesn’t have a complete foundation of both art & science, it could be costly for your athlete in the long run.
Today Instagram and YouTube makes it easy for any would be “trainer” to throw together some flashy exercises. Social media allows them to easily gain a large audience without real experience or knowledge. They look impressive and like they know what they are doing. Maybe they were even a higher level athlete at one time.

This trainer relies on the “cool” exercises, they chase the fads in exercises and equipment, and don’t understand the fundamental principles of movement, motor learning and development.

This type of trainer will not make athletes better in the long run.
In fact, there is a serious danger that they could actually make them worse. In the worst case they can increase the injury risk with risky exercise selection or poor coaching of technique. They can also do damage by missing critical pieces of athletic development.

NOT LIKE THE PROS It’s great to have experience in elite sport, but you can’t coach young athletes just like the pros.

Seems like common sense; If you want to be the best, you need to train like the best, right? Wrong. Kids aren’t pros. They don’t have millions of dollars or a gold medal on the line. They have school. Their growth and sleep patterns aren’t stable. Their physiology is different. It’s great if a coach or organization consistently works in elite sports. They can stay on the cutting edge of training, recovery and injury prevention. However, young athletes need different training. An athlete’s developmental level matters.

Development chronologically, biologically, cognitively and in sports specific skills all play a part. If a coach doesn’t understand the needs for each stage and how to adapt coaching, then your athlete could pay the price. The younger the athlete, the more they are also building a foundation. If the goal is to truly develop a youth athlete for success, then general physical training is necessary first. Sport specific training can occur at a future point in time during an athletic career. Knowing this, coaches can design and deliver a better training program that prepares an athlete to be ready for needed specificity at the right time. Movement, coordination, balance, mobility, work capacity, speed, and strength are all qualities in a general physical training program. These core athletic qualities should be developed in a young athlete first. They have more time, and building this solid foundation will let them excel as the hit later stages of development.

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