This may not be true of everyone, but I find that I am often my own worst critic. Oftentimes I struggle to believe that my own methods and skills are going to yield results. It can be incredibly hard to trust your own ability! So that’s what today is about: a few methods to enable coaches to test the effectiveness of their work and trust in it.
First and foremost, surround yourself with other coaches. Ensure that you are learning from peers and more experienced coaches. Whether that means getting involved with local clubs or centres, taking part in online seminars or absorbing information from experts in the form of books or videos, it all helps! The more (and more varied) coaching methods you are able to observe and test out, the better your overall approach will become.
Obviously, comparison, especially with people on the top of their game, can be unhealthy and disheartening. However, this is not about saying, “they did it like this – that makes my way look rubbish!” Rather it is about saying, “that’s a really valuable technique – I wonder if that could work for me.”
Being in a forum of other coaches is so useful for your own growth. Plus you may also find that others want to try something you share with them. That can be a huge confidence boost!
Secondly, be aware of the flaws, but don’t rush to fix them. We all make mistakes, all the time! We look back (quite often immediately) at the way we delivered a coaching point and think: “that was rubbish! I could have done that so much better.”
In those moments, have grace for yourself, and don’t rush to correct the perceived issue. As I said at the start, we are often our own worst critics. And yes, it is really important to critique your own work and consider how to do it better, but that is a long-term process.
As an example, recently I have been really seeking to switch my coaching language to a more affirmatory style – praising the good, or even the desired good, rather than focusing on the improvement points. I constantly find myself jumping straight to a “how to improve” rather than stressing what already went well. But the more time I spend coaching, the more natural the new style becomes.
Trust your own ability as a learner to gradually adapt to a new (better) methodology.
Lastly, and most importantly, celebrate every one of your student’s victories, because they are your victories too! They are a direct product of your work and methods.
Obviously, if you are not experiencing any successes whatsoever, that could be a sign that something is awry! But if you are not celebrating the little victories, especially in slow-pace programmes, then you will very quickly end up feeling disheartened and unsure of your own capacity as a coach.
Some victories, like Jordan’s learning to roll without any physical intervention on my part, are huge and obvious. Others, like Jordan making a slight increase to his torso rotation during forward paddling, are subtle, but no less worth savouring!
Hopefully these points have been really helpful for any other second-guessers out there! How do you combat self-doubt as a coach? Let me know in the comments!