Why You Need a Coach: The Little Big Things

by Detric Smith, CSCS, USAW, ACSM-HFI

For most of you reading this article who used to compete in sports, think back to your younger days. Can you imagine stepping on the field without the direction of a coach? Without someone calling the plays? Without someone providing structure and discipline? Without someone making you do the things you hated or without setting standards and providing goals that were high, yet attainable? Can you imagine competing without that “coach” who probably knew more about you than you knew about yourself?

In life, I feel that we all need coaches and that we all have the potential to be great coaches in some aspect. However, my definition of coach is not limited to sports. A coach can be a teacher, business owner, mentor, or anyone who guides someone else or an organization to reach their potential.

The following is a list that I feel all great teams, organizations, and individuals have:

Discipline: Ever see a successful business where the employees come in whenever they feel like it? Ever see a successful team with no guidelines or disciplinary procedures for those who skipped practice? I see success as reaching your potential. Champions raise the bar even further. We have all seen that team with all the talent in the world but that never seems to win. If you’re a good coach, you have discipline because without it, you have nothing.

Work ethic: It’s true that to reach the top of your given field you have to have some “natural talent.” If you are 5’6” with no athletic ability at all, maybe the NBA isn’t for you. However, for the most part, it’s overrated. If you take a look at champions from any sport or life endeavor, they worked harder than most, if not all, of those beneath them. You want to be like Tiger? Then maybe you should have started hitting golf balls when you were two years old. You want to be like Mike? Wake up every morning at four and start practicing your jump shots. If you’re a good coach, you will make sure your athletes work hard and smart.

Goal setting/focus: Being able to set goals is important. They have to be high but achievable. You have to have short- and long-term goals or else you won’t be able to stay focused for the long haul. Goals need to be broken down into years, months, days, and even hours. If you’re coaching a team that says they want to be champions but can’t focus on what is important right now such as practice, forget about the long-term goal.

Mental toughness: The goal that you set above (if it’s worth anything) will be tough to reach. You will have setbacks. The strong will fight through it. The losers will give up.

Motivation: A good coach is able to find out why their athletes are doing what they’re doing and how to get even more out of them. This extrinsic motivation needs to be internalized as intrinsic motivation inside that person. Most major changes in a person’s life come after some failure or the realization that they are not even close to their potential. Motivation needs to be individualized, and it comes in many forms, though anger is the most common. Anger is a strong energy, and if channeled the right way, can make your average person downright dangerous in a good way. Remember those people who told you “you can’t.”? The company that didn’t hire you? The person who wouldn’t give you a reference? The times you failed and had to look yourself in the mirror for what you truly were?

Consistency: All of the above need to be done over the long haul. If you want to be Tiger but you’re just picking up the clubs at 25 years old, you might need to find another profession. It takes years of the above to be successful (see my definition) at anything.

You can not do it alone because knowledge is necessary to reach your goal. Take a look in the mirror now. See yourself for who you really are and what you want to be. Print out this article and read it again in the near future. If you see the same person, analyze what you have been doing since you first read this. If you see a different person, stay on that same path that leads to success.