In my 23 years of teaching, I treated my students like I was a doctor and they were a patient. Doctors don't treat each patient the same. Doctors find out their patient's history and symptoms and come up with a unique plan to help that person.
In translating this to pickleball, a great coach will see a player as a unique individual with a unique set of strengths and weaknesses. A good coach will recognize a player's strengths, acknowledge those strengths, and then move forward capitalizing on those strengths. A good coach will also see areas for improvement and can create a plan with a logical progression of steps to help a player be successful.
Granted, there are basic skills to pickleball such as getting up to the net, or serving and returning deep. If you are not getting up to the net, a great coach will stop, find out your thinking about it, talk about why it is important, and then focus on acquiring this skill. Again, it's that personalization that isn't simple to define. There are myriad ways for a coach to make the learning relevant which means that great coaching is not easy. A great coach has a certain "je ne sais quoi" and has to be a psychologist, a doctor, a cheerleader, a parent, and a friend all in one.
After reading Dayne Gingrich's article "How to Find a Great Coach," his philosophy resonated with me as it seemed similar to my classroom teaching. Progressing in anything, whether it's a new language, a history course, or an athletic skill (like playing pickleball) is multidimensional and if you're interested in progressing as far as you can as a pickleball player, I think Dayne's advice is spot on!
How to Find a Great Coach
by: Dayne Gingrich
Coaching is more of an art than a science and more of who you are than what you do. Great coaches feel it flowing through their bloodstream and experience it 25/8, 366 on a cellular level. It can’t be turned off or slowed down, no matter how often your significant other or children ask. Coaching is a process in which ideas, experiments, and learning opportunities endlessly flow. PB athletes, find a coach! When searching for that man/woman that’ll make the difference for you, look deeper than his/her technical knowledge. Is he asking about your past - your athletic experience, emotional triggers, pain thresholds, partner challenges, and celebrations? Is she interested in digging deeper into what makes you tick OFF the court? Our off-court personality plays a huge role in our in-court tendencies and patterns. Does he want you to create “realistic” goals or giving you permission to raise your bar beyond conventional, safe thinking? Does she want to teach you at your current level, or push you to believe in a bigger, not yet accomplished set of goals? Does he think confidence is a result or a choice? Will she challenge you to mentally design a long term picture that exceeds your current belief system? Great coaching steps far beyond X’s and O’s. It gently, yet firmly dares you to take action on a blueprint you, in the beginning, believe to be impossible. Choose THAT coach ⬆️.
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