Jump to content

What Makes A Good Coach?


Recommended Posts

What are the component pieces that make a good coach, in this sport, or really any other for that matter?

 

Here is one piece that has to be there, and pretty darn fundamental: observing. And you might think to yourself, "Cobie, that's pretty obvious dude." Maybe it is, maybe it isn't. But that ability to simply observe what is happening in front of you, this is not a skill of minor importance.

 

What do you guys see as another skill in a good coach? (or comments on the above).

 

Best,

Cobie

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hey Cobie,

 

I think the ability to communicate effectively and convey the points that you have observed to students is very important. You may know what you want to say to the student but if you cant tell them how to change or try something new they wont be able to acheive the drills/level being taught.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think finding a way to help the student experience or understand the next level of riding is important... maybe "their next level" is better phrased.

 

I had a great experience from an Evolution Driving School I attended (autocross school). During the school the instructor will sometimes drive your car to demonstrate what he's trying to teach you. In my case the instructor was trying to teach me to turn in early and use throttle control to get through the corner. I had reached a point where I "thought" I was doing what he was saying... then the instructor drove my car and showed me what he meant. I had no idea you could turn in that early, or that by turning in that early you could carry so much more speed into and through the corner. Getting to watch him drive my car and feel what was going on (from the passenger seat) made a huge difference in my understanding and I was able to immediately start working on duplicating the experience with my own driving.

 

We can't do that exactly on a motorcycle but maybe there's a way to do something similar. Words, following the instructor, presenting a challenge to try something, watch another student or instructor that is doing well at the concept being taught (during a break?), something else?

 

Don

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think adjusting to what each student needs to focus on individually is extremely important. Even though you are teaching all of the students basically the same thing you have to analize what each student needs to work on most before they can make it to the next step. This brings up the next thing that sometimes holding some information from a student can be a good thing when the situation calls for it. Sometimes things can get more difficult when you give someone to much information or to many things to work on. So letting the riders skill evolve on its own while they practice before telling them what the next step is can be very important.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think finding a way to help the student experience or understand the next level of riding is important... maybe "their next level" is better phrased.

 

I had a great experience from an Evolution Driving School I attended (autocross school). During the school the instructor will sometimes drive your car to demonstrate what he's trying to teach you. In my case the instructor was trying to teach me to turn in early and use throttle control to get through the corner. I had reached a point where I "thought" I was doing what he was saying... then the instructor drove my car and showed me what he meant. I had no idea you could turn in that early, or that by turning in that early you could carry so much more speed into and through the corner. Getting to watch him drive my car and feel what was going on (from the passenger seat) made a huge difference in my understanding and I was able to immediately start working on duplicating the experience with my own driving.

 

We can't do that exactly on a motorcycle but maybe there's a way to do something similar. Words, following the instructor, presenting a challenge to try something, watch another student or instructor that is doing well at the concept being taught (during a break?), something else?

 

Don

 

First off, let me just say: Hell of a first post! Actually many of the ideas you mentioned at the end of your post are utilized by coaches.

Also, Cobie mentioned being able to observe, but what I have seen specifically in good coaches is that they have a very complete picture of what SHOULD BE and so they are very good at seeing any departures from that, no matter how small. Also they have been doing it, talking about it and studying it long enough that know exactly what types of errors to look for in any given situation.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I know the popular saying is those who can't do teach, and I've always had the urge to beat people who say that. I am very articulate, can get a point of education across to most people, but I don't have the speed. Not only do riding coaches possess all of these qualities, but they're the faster riders on the track, and THEIR WATCHING WHAT THE OTHER GUY IS DOING AT THE SAME TIME!!! Let's say you get a Hayden out there and have to ask him to slow down. You're still following him at a slightly slower pace and watching him ride. I've tried to help people, and can do so for a while, then they're too fast for me. I have a wealth of knowledge and can share it with people clearly, but can't keep up with people to watch their style and help them.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I would say that understanding each individual, their needs and how to communicate with them in a manner that both make them understand and also motivates them is the most important thing for a coach - right after actually knowing what you are teaching, of course.

 

That's why there are so few good coaches (and leaders) in the world. Even highly skilled trainers will typically only really be good at coaching one type of people while coping with the majority and failing with the other minority. I'd say fitting brilliantly with about 10%, doing acceptably with about 80% and failing miserably with the remaining 10% of students.

 

Hence being a great instructor of any kind is an extremely difficult job that only a very limited number will ever be able to excel at. I'd be a lousy instructor because I would focus on those showing great determination and/or intelligence/understanding and not be able to encourage those who are shy or not showing sufficient interest.

 

Let me take one concrete example. Peter Mueller was the coach for the Norwegian skating team. He had two good students; brother and sister Bökko. When Peter was sacked for sexual harassment and replaced with new coaches, we noticed a drop in particularly brother Bökko's performance and a big leap in performance for a lot of the other skaters in the team. Why? Mueller was fantastic as a coach - providing the "ideal" student, but incapable of instructing the majority nearly as well. What was motivational for a few was demotivational for the majority.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I know the popular saying is those who can't do teach, and I've always had the urge to beat people who say that. I am very articulate, can get a point of education across to most people, but I don't have the speed. Not only do riding coaches possess all of these qualities, but they're the faster riders on the track, and THEIR WATCHING WHAT THE OTHER GUY IS DOING AT THE SAME TIME!!! Let's say you get a Hayden out there and have to ask him to slow down. You're still following him at a slightly slower pace and watching him ride. I've tried to help people, and can do so for a while, then they're too fast for me. I have a wealth of knowledge and can share it with people clearly, but can't keep up with people to watch their style and help them.

+1

 

smileyvault-nothingtoadd.gif

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Two things I haven't seen mentioned:

 

First is, a good couch would need to be able to use a variety of communication styles and methods. For example, some people understand things and communicate in a very systematic sort of way, they tend to be good at math, engineering, physics, etc. Others think and communicate more organically, from experience or intuition, and they may be better in art, language, and sociality. And some people are just darn good at memorizing stuff. Now I hate the idea of generalizing and categorizing people, and I'm not suggestion that anyone really fits exactly into one category, but there's nothing wrong with recognizing that we are different. I would describe myself as mostly systematic, but I'm obviously not entirely missing my noodles in the other categories. Math is easy for me. I'm not so bad in art, but my creativity is always sort of geometric. Trying to learn a new language is utter torture, and English grammar and spelling about drives me nuts sometimes how twisted it is. I'm not too bad in sociality but I think it's a more conscious learning process for me (can you tell? :rolleyes: ) whereas it seems natural for others. You know the phrase about a picture is worth a whole lotta words, and so all types benefit from a demonstration (picture, video, model), but that is more important for the organic thinkers (or do I just think that because I'm systematic?), where as the systematic thinkers are more likely to be able to execute something from a systematic explanation. And a coach that thinks more organically will probably be able to explain things better to a student who thinks on those terms. We are all "pattern matchers," so of course first hand physical experience and lots of practice is important for everybody.

 

Second is, understanding that nobody is going to understand a complex subject unless they first intuitively understand all the parts that it is built upon. For example, try to explain to someone how/why motorcycles balance themselves and how countersteering works - all kinda interrelated. First they must have an intuitive understanding of inertia, rake & trail, some tire understanding, and probably a ton of stuff that most adults take for granted - afterall, you can't explain it to an infant. Put this concept into any context - kids learning how to read - first they have to gain a decent familiarity with what sounds are made by each of the 26 letters, only then can they understand the concept of how those letters can form spoken words, and then sentences, and then essays. Language, which we take for granted, is insanely complicated, and it's just a tool to learn other stuff. At work (software company) when trying to help a customer, before I explain something I might have to first ascertain what prerequisite knowledge they already have and how computer savvy they are, and then "talk on their level." I could go on with so many examples of this in just about any subject. A lot of times when one person thinks something is so simple but another person can not understand it, this is the reason - one person probably has some prerequisite knowledge or contextual understanding that the other does not have. Unfortunately some immature people may jump to the conclusion that the person who can not understand is "stupid." These types would make a very bad coach! If you are reading a paragraph and are missing the meaning of just one of the words, you may totally miss the point of the whole paragraph (notice that Keith Code's books have word definitions built in). This is why it makes sense that the superbike school, like any educational system, does things in a specific order, regardless of "skill level." I think most people take for granted how much their understanding of the world is built up in layers, how every little thing we learn is built upon loads of stuff we learned before that and intimate contextual awareness. A good coach needs to be able to recognize the missing parts.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I would say that understanding each individual, their needs and how to communicate with them in a manner that both make them understand and also motivates them is the most important thing for a coach - right after actually knowing what you are teaching, of course.

 

A good listener ties right in with that. Being the social recluse that I am I know I don't communicate very well, especially in cases like the school where there are lots of people and things going on. The coach has the difficult task of trying to understand many students they've only known for a very short time. All of which will have different communication styles, backgrounds, slang, experience levels, etc. Being able to listen and interpret all of them quickly and offer good advice back in a format each individual understands... a very difficult task indeed.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Really good points guys, some excellent points and observations you have all made.

 

Finding coaches that can work with a wide variety is something that we really do pay attention to.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...
How valuable is it to not be as good with variety, yet be superlative at just ONE thing?

 

Won't work for this position. Training a new coach over the last 4 days and looking at all the things that one can take for granted in an experienced coach (as they aren't yet there in the trainees), makes one really see how many pieces there are to doing it well.

 

I'll just touch on one point, riding skill and knowledge of riding: some can ride well, but don't know the component pieces. Some ride OK, but can be trained to a high level, learn the component pieces. This has to be at a very high level for the coaches as they have to present a perfect example when leading a student. That alone is not a minor task.

 

Then (OK, I said only one thing, but I'll add one more) simply being able to lead a student perfectly. First the coach has to obsevere the student's pace, and this can be dramtically different in different parts of the track. Then set a pace the student can handle and learn from. Sometimes this goes up dramtically with student following a coach, sometimes it goes DOWN dramtically.

 

CF

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...