Wednesday, 6 April 2011

A Guide to "Finding a Coach"

by Jodie Bakewell-White

Here is a list of things to consider and questions to ask when selecting a coach. When undertaking this process, take time to consider your stage of development as a sailor.

Is the coach...?

* Qualified – Do they hold a qualification that gives them coaching expertise in your stage of development? In Yachting? Or in your particular class or discipline (e.g. Optimist, 420, double handed, Multi hull etc)?
* Experienced – How long have they been coaching? How many sailors have they coached? Where?
* Accredited – Are they accredited by Yachting NZ or another national Yachting National Body? This means they are up-to-date with their knowledge base and regularly attend coach development opportunities. Have they signed a code of ethics?
* Willing to attend Competitions? – This may be an important aspect to discuss with a prospective coach.
o Local/Regional/National/International Events?
o How many events per year/season? How often, what would the process entail? (Ask for examples)
o Would your coach be attending the event with you personally, or would it be with a team?
o What are the costs – fee, transportation, meals, and accommodation?
o Do they have experience in taking tours/traveling with athletes of your age, gender, stage of development, ability?

Has the coach got a proven track record...?

* In working with athletes of the same standard, gender, stage of development and achieved the results you are looking for?
* Do they have references from sailors they have coached?

Can the coach provide...?

* Environment – The right environment for your development as a person and as a sailor.
* Programmes – Squad/individual training. Times that complement your school/work/family routine?
* Location – Is the coach easily accessible relative to where you live/work/go to school?
* Expertise – In the areas you require:
* Technical – Improving an area of your sailing technique (e.g upwind, downwind, starting). Improving your understanding of the boat set-up
* Planning – Can the coach develop a training and competition plan; help you with budgeting and time management
* Mentally – Help you improve your competitive mindset and teach you mental skills that will assist you in training and racing; developing self-awareness, self-responsibility and self-confidence; teach you how to succeed
* Physically – Improve your conditioning and develop your speed, endurance, strength, power, core strength, flexibility, etc?

Things to think about...

* Why are you looking for a coach?
* What is your commitment to yachting? Are your goals aligned with how much effort you are willing to put into your personal improvement?
* How much time and funding do you have to spend on yachting?
* If you are changing coaches:
o What are/were the reasons for the change? It is important you clearly understand why you are looking to change and what contributed to this (positive and negative)
o Personal – Misunderstandings between you and the coach? Difference of opinion, expectations, etc. Were your expectations realistic? Did you do the work needed to achieve the goals you had both set?o Professional – The coach lacked the skills and knowledge to help you meet your goals

Things to discuss with a new coach...

* Expectations – It is essential you clearly state your expectations in all areas of training, development and competition. This will avoid potential misunderstandings in the future and assist in establishing a clear plan. Use the categories above to outline your expectations (e.g., technically – improve my upwind hiking technique)
* Goals – What are your goals? Make sure they pass the SMART test (simple, measurable, attainable, realistic, timely). Discuss these with your potential coach.
* Communication – How often will you communicate? How will you communicate? Will you meet face-to-face on a regular basis?
* Review – Set-up a regular time period in which you would like the coach to review your progress and give you feedback. This is an opportunity to do the same and share your thoughts with the coach on how the partnership is working. Every 2-3 months works well with a major review after important competitions or at the end of the programme cycle.
* Significant others – Partner/Friends/Parents/Sponsors/etc – What role does the coach expect others to play in the developmental team? This is critical to establish the coach’s philosophy on developing a team in the training and competition process. Clearly outline your goals and expectation to the coach.

Note from SailRaceWin: It also depends on what type of coaching you need... Experienced sailors without qualifications, but with the right temprement, are often coaches to the pros! Personality is key to good coaching. See the SailRaceWin article on Andrew Palfrey (aka Dog), head coach to Artemis Racing, here

Yachting New Zealand