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IGNORE YOUR COACH (SOMETIMES)

Saturday 12th July 2014

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What does my recent role as Darwin in a TV documentary, Tiger Woods, and the academic International Journal of Sports Science and Coaching have in common?

They all highlight the potential dangers of coaching. There is only one person responsible for your performance, and that is you. Many coaches fall into the self-deluded fallacy that they are responsible for the performance of their client. Only when it is good of course.

Let me explain. An actor is responsible for giving the director footage that can be edited and used. Directors vary in the extent they lead their actors. Some hardly at all, and some give precise instructions. The danger is that too many instructions interfere with an actor’s flow, and the same rules apply on the sports field too.

Tiger Woods expressed this elegantly in an interview.

One of the things I’ve always said, even when I was working with Butch at the time, ninety percent of the things I’ll hear, I’ll throw out.

Five percent of the things I hear I’ll try and throw out, and then five percent I’ll try and I’ll use.

It’s just one of those things where you try to get a feel for what’s going to work.

The link to the International Journal of Sports Science and Coaching is that I’ve been asked to write a commentary on Professionalism, Golf Coaching and a Master of Science Degree.

I found it a difficult challenge, because it so hard to define what makes a great coach, and it has very little to do with their qualifications. When the journal is published I will provide links to it. In the meantime these were my closing words.

Will such change be sufficient to entice Foley and others to join the PGA? Perhaps, time will tell. Either way the mavericks will need convincing of the benefits to embrace such change, and the scientists will require a wider appreciation and respect for the mavericks too.
As Groucho Marx famously stated, ‘I don’t care to belong to any club that will have me as a member.’
Finally my brief views about coaching and ego for what they are worth.

  • Coaches do not give their clients anything. The most they can achieve is to ignite what is already there. 
  • Clients produce results, not their coaches, and so deserve the credit for them.
  • Coaches get plenty of other things that are far more valuable, like having one of the most varied and satisfying jobs possible. That should be enough for anybody.

Remember that coaching is always a two-way process, so trust your instincts and inner voice to guide you. Learn what to use, and what to ignore.

Less is more, and ‘simple’ usually works just fine.