What Makes a Good Coach Exceptional

(Information for this essay comes from the following source: the book “Best Coaches, Best Practices” by Andy Higgins)

It, truly, is a sad fact! There are so many all around us with their dreams, their desires, their visions for their lives who cannot get on track, who cannot find any success or make something out of their lives.  And, in many cases, it is no fault of their own. Oh, how hard that they have tried!!

One key ingredient missing for success is that these people did not get the proper emotional and mental support. More specifically, there was no one who took them under their care to offer proper coaching or positive mentoring. What a loss!!

Like a ship rocking in rough seas without direction, these dreamers of struggling artists, writers and athletes, etc., linger in limbo, going nowhere because they did not get this proper support.

We can tell people only so often to think positive or keep their noses to the grindstone in their trials and frustrations. But many creative people need mentors and/or coaches who will take a true interest in them, helping them develop their natural talents and gifts.

How many gifts of athletes, musicians, writers, etc., go silent  because they didn’t have this proper support?

First, coaches must build their students’ well-being, their character. It’s not the sport, the music, the art form, their craft of the students that matter though it’s a part of them. It’s about addressing the entire needs of their students – mentally, emotionally, spiritually. Things like teaching values such as thoughtfulness, compassion, generosity, patience, respect. They will use these values outside of their crafts.

Coaches must address the emotional and psychological needs of those that they coach. They aim to become mature people which is an ongoing process. It’s about who they become as people that matter.

Their athletic abilities, their art, their gifts and talents are secondary. And by making their students aware of their self-development, their talents become natural outcomes.

There is a plus side to this character building. People who feel good about themselves and have a high self-esteem are generally happier, perform better, generate quality results. And the opposite is true. Unhappy people produce poorer results.

Secondly, coaches must create an environment that is physically and emotionally safe to make learning easier. A physical safe environment is based on respect for the individual and concern for their safety. There can be no bullying including physical, psychological and verbal abuse. Quiet words of recognition or encouraging comments cannot hurt. The coach must value each person as an individual.

Thirdly, coaches must walk in the “shoes of their students”. They must have a true understanding what their students are going through especially feeling their students’ pains and frustrations. They must have compassion for their students. Compassion means “to suffer with”.  Coaches must listen. Simply looking inward from the outside just does not cut it. Coaches and mentors have much to learn about coaching and mentoring.  To be good at it is an ongoing learning process.

If coaches fail to address any of these needs, their students won’t become who they were meant to be – both as an artist and as a person. And we, as a society, will be poorer for it.