The Importance of Specialist Sports Coaches: 5 Minutes with Bo Hanson
There are so many different Specialist Sports Coaches that can make up the coaching staff in modern sport, like strength and conditioning coaches and specific positional coaches. How do you see the role of these Specialist Sports Coaches in developing the team and its culture?
Today in sport there seems to be a role for everybody. There seems to be a level specialties and expertise in all of these roles. If I think back to my own experiences as an athlete, one of the things that we didn’t have was a massive range and diversity of coaches. I think today that’s one of the big improvements sport has made, that is, the fact that we have: nutritionists, strength and conditioning coaches, specialist massage people, physiotherapists and chiropractors all designed to help an athlete to perform at their best.
Where I see this, as a significant advantage is each of these different roles, the coaches or support staff, they all have a very important role in being able to help the Head Coach develop better relationships with their athletes. I think they can all get to know an athlete on a different level.
What’s really critical is that when you have all of these different roles, it becomes an issue for a Head Coach to ensure that everyone is absolutely aligned to the type of culture that the team is trying to create.
One of the teams that we work really closely with we recognized this several years ago in doing some research and finding some specific studies around what was making Olympic Athletes at Olympic Games successful. One of the key factors was that each of the athletes that were able to produce a medal-winning performance, which is a tough thing to achieve, had a very strong support staff behind them. From our perspective when working with this particular team was actually looking at how we can involve all of these people?
Typically with a lot of the teams that I’d seen in the past would have these specialty groups on the periphery doing what they needed to do but there wasn’t a strong level of alignment. So we’ve moved to the point where now, whether you’re a support staff person, every single person was included as being part of the team and subscribed to the same team values, behaviors and ultimately the same team goals as the athletes. When we do exercises and activities with the group we wouldn’t differentiate between playing and non-playing members of the team – we would literally mix everyone in together.
The benefit that this creates is a very strong culture where everyone is absolutely aligned. Most importantly, they feel included. When they feel included, they feel as though they can have a genuine level of ownership in what happens within the program. They’re no longer seen as someone who stands around the periphery of the team, they’re an integral part of it.
The other aspect to this is that when the coaches and the support staff feel that aligned to what it is the team culture is about and they all have these great relationships with the athletes, they’re able to share different types of information about the athletes. Obviously the athletes know that it’s going to be confidential but they recognize that each of these coaches is going to have a different perspective on how to make an improvement in the athlete’s performance. So the relationships between all of them are a little bit different but they can all help to create a very safe and well-supported environment.
Most people are likely to be competitive in that type of environment rather than a highly competitive one.
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You can watch all videos in the 5 Minutes with Bo Hanson series.
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