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Career Tips for Young Coaches

With thanks to www.swimmingcoach.org for permission.


By John Leonard

1. Get a Mentor. Use the Mentor. Learn from the Mentor; don’t try to impress the Mentor with all you “know”.

2. Learn to sell your ideas. Go to the bookstore and buy a book on sales. What you do all day is sell your ideas to parents, athletes and support personnel. Learn to be good at it.

3. Go watch another coach’s workout. A great coach if you know one. Any coach if you don’t. You can learn and reflect on your own coaching while watching anyone else coach. Sometimes its good to watch coaches in other sports (which are naturally inferior to swimming) do their thing also.

4.Have someone video tape you for an entire workout. What do you look like? What do you want to look like? Does your style match your words? Are you someone you would like to swim for?

5. At swim meets, ask permission to listen in while other more experienced coaches talk to their athlete’s pre and post-race. This is one of the most crucial interactions in our sport. Learn to be a good “meet coach”.

6. Make friends with your fellow coaches. The “opposition” is not the “enemy”. You will know many of your fellow coaches for years. Make them a support group for yourself, and be a supporter for them. Speak well of each other. Encourage each other. Help each other. As a coach, you are trying to get many children with low motivation, to do difficult and challenging things.

7. Don’t lose any friends over swimmers changing teams. Swimmers do change teams. Swimmers also drop out of swimming. Swimmers and their parents can easily get the “grass is greener elsewhere” syndrome. Loyalty is hard to come by in society today. Don’t take out your frustration on the coach they go to . . . they are his problem now (and if they change clubs very often they are a “problem”) not yours. Be thankful.

8. Make some lists of what you want to do to improve your coaching this month, this season, this year, next season, etc. Do a plan for your personal development . . . not goals of what you want to achieve, but plans on what you want to improve.

9. Listen first, speak later. Listen first, speak later. Listen first, speak later.

10. “You can get everything you want in life by helping enough other people get what they want in life.” Zig Ziglar. Pick up any of his books or tapes. They’ll help you more than any other coaching you’ll get from anyone.