How do you feel about coaches? Do you have a coach? Do you think you need a coach? Coaching as we know it has only been around for a short time. 150 years ago, coaches did not exist. Now, you can find a coach for just about anything, not just sports. Part of the reason coaching has increased so much in recent years is the value people see in it.

The simple truth is: if you want to grow and get better, you really need a coach a quality coach. Coaching is important for all levels of athletes. Coaches thems elves can also benefit from feedback, as coaching or mentoring is equally important for all levels of coaches. Let’s dive into this more and see why it is important for athletes and coaches to have a coach.

Quality Coaching and Mentoring

Quality coaching is about focusing on the learner, not the teacher. Quality coaches are flexible in their approach depending on the person they are working with and able to adapt to that person’s communication style to build trust and rapport. Quality coaching is not just about telling someone what to do as if they are a puppet; it’s about guiding them to solve their own problems. As you will read in this quarter’s technical bulletin, it’s important for people to be challenged to stretch beyond their current capabilities. A good coach can do this through a combination of direct feedback and insightful questioning.

Coaching and mentoring can have a huge impact on an athlete or coach’s growth and development. As athletes and coaches become more experienced and learn more about archery, the difference between good and great is often being able to internalize that information and apply it correctly. A good coach can not only provide the right information but also ask the right questions to help the athlete or coach reflect and s olve problems on their own.

Even the best coaches can benefit from coaching or mentoring. The US Olympic and Paralympic Committee has adopted this mindset and contracted several quality coaches that provide consistent coaching and mentoring to many of the national team coaches working at Olympic Training Centers. Many of the coaches work with athletes or teams that are already the best in the world but are looking to stay ahead. I have had the opportunity to witness the transformation of top coaches and pr ograms at the Olympic Training Center from this initiative and the result has transferred to a drastic improvement in performance.

Next Steps

If you do not have a coach or a mentor yet, I highly recommend finding one. Athletes can find coaches on the USA Archery Coach Locator and can also check with other archers. Coaches can check with more experienced coaches on the coach locator or even partner with a coach of another sport. Athletes lookin g for a coach and coaches looking for a mentor should always start by asking the coach what their coaching philosophy is, what the expectations are, and what the compensation amount is prior starting to work with each other. Both athletes and coaches shoul d also consider registering for the 2020 USA Archery Virtual Symposium While some of the live sessions have passed, all registered participants can view recordings of all the sessions at any time.

By Guy Krueger, USA Archery Education and Training Manager