This is a massive area of importance in coaching and an area I am very passionate about. This will probably be the first of many rants on the subject, so buckle yourself in and get ready for the first instalment of the "World according to Mackers!"
The difference between an ordinary coach and a truly great coach is having the ability to think critically, apply your knowledge and experience and the ability to understand how your athletes really “work”.
Once you have thoroughly understood the scientific background to training we need to apply it and be able to adapt this understanding to each individual. As part of developing your athlete I feel you need to have the concept of how to develop an expert. An expert in movement (under physiological, psychological and structural stress) and then consequently in skill, tactics and performance leading to success.
The following 3 books have been important in how I have developed over the past few years and how I attack these problems within coaching. I don’t necessarily want to force upon you my conclusions from the books as I feel each person will be different but would be very much interested in any comments on the subject once you have read these, we can each relate in different ways to what is proposed and will have different experiences so I don’t want to bias you before you start.
The 3 books are
1. “Outliers” Malcolm Gladwell
2. “The Talent Code” Daniel Coyle
3. “Talent is Overrated: What Really Separates World-Class Performers from Everybody Else” Geoff Colvin
Hopefully by directing you down this thought process and with personal reflection you can evolve your own concepts in the area and add to your understanding of your athletes and how to get the best out of them. For a more academic stream of work and to cover the classic, seminal work of Ericsson I direct you towards “The Cambridge Handbook of Expertise and Expert Performance” Charness, Feltovic, Hoffman & Ericsson.
NB. Malcolm Gladwell’s other books, "Blink" and "Tipping Point" are also interesting reads although not quite as applicable. His newest book “What the Dog Saw” is excellent but I am only half way through, I will write a review once I have finished it.
Following on from these books and in my “library” at the moment are other books I have still to read loosely related to the same topic (I buy a load of books every time I am back in UK because the price of books in Australia is outrageous – I reckon this could be part of my first little angry man rant! Stay tuned for that!), I am looking forward to getting around to reading...
“The Genius in all of us” David Shenk
“Drive” Daniel H. Pink
“Mindset” Carol S. Dweck
If anyone out there has read these books/authors or has any other suggestions please post a comment so that we all develop.
As coaches I implore you to spread the word of athletic development, in particular I reckon that these concepts need to be passed on to EVERY coach and parent out there. As a consequence those who make decisions about sporting structures and pathways will understand what is required for the next generations to make it as competitors on the world stage. Without this we can only go so far before hitting the wall of bureaucracy and frustration that is always lurking around the corner.
I would love to have a discussion around any of this post; I feel it is vital to coaching and also to me as a person to continually evolve my thinking in this area of expertise and deliberate practice. I trust you will too, happy reading and happy pondering!