Ashley Zehnder: Important Tips for Beginner and Inexperienced Coaches

The best coaches are the experienced coaches. This does not mean the best coaches are older, this means that the best coaches have taken their time to learn, observe, reflect, and, therefore, improve their skills and knowledge. Being a coach is very similar to being an athlete except that you have to be able to communicate your skill and knowledge of the sport you are coaching rather than perform your skills and knowledge. Inexperienced and beginner coaches learn this the hard, but that’s how you become better as a coach. Here are some tips that will be helpful for inexperienced and beginner coaches looking for ways to improve their abilities.

The number one thing that all coaches must remember is that patience is a must as a coach. You have to be patient with yourself and your athletes. You can’t expect to become a great coach within a week, nor can you expect your athletes to pick up on what you are trying to teach them immediately. The best coaches are patient because they are able to get the best out of themselves this way and the best out of those they are coaching.

A patient coach will also keep his or her mind open and learn while on the job. The best way for coaches to improve is to learn from their mistakes and their achievements. Good coaches don’t let themselves get stuck in their ways. Instead, they keep their mind open and sponge-like so that they can absorb new information, process new information, and decide what to do with what they’ve learned.

Part of keeping an open mind is welcoming feedback and using it constructively. You cannot go around thinking that you know everything there is to know about coaching. You have to listen to your peers, hear their advice, and then consider what do with it. You do not always need to act upon criticism or feedback; you merely need to keep your mind open enough so that you hear it and understand it.

Recommended read: Ashley Zehnder: Ways to Improve Your Coaching

The best coaches enjoy what they do. If you’ve been coaching for a little while now and you still aren’t having fun, then maybe coaching isn’t for you. If you’re not having fun, you won’t do your job well, and your athletes will pick up on that and respond poorly. Furthermore, coaching is a lot of work, and if you’re not having fun, you won’t complete everything that is expected of.

Another reason to quit if you haven’t been having fun for a while is because you need to believe in yourself. If you’re not having fun, why would you believe in your coaching abilities? You have to believe in yourself because your athletes have to believe in you. If they don’t believe in you, it will be very difficult to accomplish anything. Self-belief is where success as a coach starts.

Lastly, and possibly most importantly, make sure that you have set some time aside for yourself. You don’t want to become too consumed with your job because then you won’t think straight. Set some time aside to do things that you enjoy doing and that are relaxing. You will think clearly if you do this and be able to self-reflect, thus improving your coaching abilities.

ashley zehnderAshley Zehnder is an experienced swim coach and an expert swimmer. She was a swim coach for a few years at the Clearfork Swim Club in Lexington, Ohio. She was also a Kent State Masters Swim Coach for a few years while she was a student at Kent State University.

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