What is a Coach?


What is a coach?

Duncan Holland has asked this question some time ago. What is a coach? A question that every club, every top athlete asks. Go ahead and read what Duncan thinks:

“I have just bought a lovely old book from Way’s bookshop in Henley on the Thames. It is Roy Meldrum’s Coach and Eight, first published in 1932. Meldrum was a leading coach of the time. He was a leader of the orthodox school of rowing who was epitomized by the Lady Margaret BC and in opposition to the Fairbairn types from Jesus College BC.

“Meldrum starts the book with the following passage:

‘A coach is someone of either sex, usually a man at present, who borrows a bicycle and rides beside a crew.  When there is a gale or a poor choice among bicycles, he sometimes rides behind the crew; and sometimes sees for the first time things he had not suspected. He can see as much and in greater comfort if he has a bicycle of his own; as much, but perhaps with less comfort if he is honored with a horse.’

“There is a lot of wisdom in this short passage. Leaving aside the horse, about which I am not qualified to comment, let us think for a moment about what a coach is. Like many, I started my coaching career when I could no longer row. Was it not G. B. Shaw who said ‘He who can, does, he who cannot, teaches’? Relatively few of the top coaches around were top performers themselves. Is this because the success top performers had satisfied their thirst? Is it that the sad people who coach are those who failed to achieve and now eke out a miserable existence warming their egos at the fires of the next generation? I like to think that coaching and performing are so different that few people have the breadth of personality and diversity of skill to succeed at both”.

What is a Coach? How to Identify the Quality of a Good Coach

“An associated question that is exercising many around the world at this time of year is ‘How to identify a good coach?’ This question was raised and also answered by the International Olympic Committee: Let’s quote one of the 10 characteristics:

The best coaches are in the profession because they love it. Besides being strongly
committed to the sports and success, the best coaches display a clear commitment to
looking out for the best interest of the individual athletes. Coaching in many ways is a
24/7 365-days-a-year job as top coaches live and sleep the art of coaching. Able to
think of every possible scenario and allow the athlete and coach to perform at their
best when the pressure is at its greatest.

“The season has already seen its share of coaches moved on, dropped or not re-employed and the searches for their successors, discreet and otherwise, are starting. Every year sees a similar merry go round. The same coaches are shuffled between the same jobs, and off we go again for another season. It has echoes of the greater idiocies perpetrated by the owners of football clubs.

“May I suggest to those searching for a coach that they first look at themselves and their own failings before setting out to find a coach whom they can blame when things go wrong next season?

“To return to the headline; ‘What is a coach?’.

“Did you hear the one about the rugby club who called the guy who ran their practices bus, because he certainly wasn’t a coach?!”

Duncan Holland


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This Post Has One Comment

  1. Gennadii Ochkalenko

    A coach is someone who forces you to do what you don’t want to do so that you become what you want to be.
    Tom Landry

    A coach is someone who is responsible for all failures, and not involved in success ever …
    Dr. Igor Yemchuk, our First Olympian, my Teacher

    My answer to the question: “Who is the best coach?”
    – This is one that does not stop talking for a minute in training. And no matter what he says; the main thing is that he does not fall silent.
    Very often, coaches are evaluated only by this criterion unfortunately.
    I could see this many times in many countries of the world …

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