Thanks Vern Gambetta for his wisdom and insight into coaching longevity.
If I were writing this 30 or 40 years ago it would have been a very different blog post. I would have focused on technical knowledge, the importance of understanding training theory and the nuances of periodization. Don’t get me wrong all of that is important if you want to be a good coach, but if you want to be a great coach there is more to it than that. The technical part can be learned fairly easily through study, observation and practice. The difference makers are what some people would call the intangibles, the social and emotional intelligence that allows you to connect with you athletes, your colleagues, administrators and parents on another level.
Simply put it is mastery of communication skills.
All the knowledge in the world is for naught if you can’t communicate it. We coach people, people who respond to coaches who show they care about them as people. It is the little things that count, a smile, a pat on the back, an admonition to try harder or simply the tone of voice and body language when making a correction. I wish I would have figured this out earlier in my career. I can’t help but think about how much more effective I could have been as a coach and happier as a person. Learn from my mistakes, work on the intangibles raise your level of emotional and social intelligence to new heights, hone your communication skills to a fine edge and you will be the best coach you can be. That is all we can ask.
I’ve been fortunate to learn this from one of the best in the business in Head Coach Carolyn Condit here at Miami University. She is not only a master of communication skills, but also relationship skills. There are no books or words that can explain this form of mastery. It is experience and upbringing that molds a master coach.