Coaching Tools: Draw Out The Best

What is different about the best coaches? What coaching tools do these legends use to connect to their athletes and consistently deliver champions – even in different locations, with a different group of athletes, and against different competitors? Yes, think Phil Jackson, Tara Vanderveer, Janine Tucker, and Jack Clark who has won a combined total of 27 national collegiate rugby championships.

Without question, coaches need a sharp eye for physical talent and a knack for recruiting. However, the best coaches are masters at creating connection to their athletes generating a consistency across their program. They do it by addressing what leadership experts call ‘individualization’. This means they study each athlete in order to tailor their approach to the unique needs of that individual. They understand that ‘one size does NOT fit all’. One style of coaching does not work on every athlete.

It sounds like common sense, but it is not common practice. Many coaches maintain a stance of 'It's my way or the highway'. Maintaining this dual focus on the physical and mental requires direct intention to use coaching tools that regularly draw out the best of each athlete. Championship-caliber coaches understand and employ these types of coaching tools.

Coaching tools dual emphasis: physical & mental

Legendary coaches who repeatedly win know every athlete is a complex bundle of both physical and mental capabilities. Discerning the physical is done often by observation and specific measurements. Figuring out the mental is more difficult. It requires a thorough understanding of the intangibles (mental processing & traits) through observation, interviews, assessments, and background research.

Over the years, researchers in every sport have developed scientific and objective methods to evaluate an athlete’s physical abilities. They may look at speed, size, strength, agility, sport-specific motion, flexibility, and stamina. They also want to know injury and illness history.

Physical abilities are only half, if that, of the performance equation. Elite-level coaches also focus on uncovering the unique mental make-up of each athlete. How are they motivated? How do they learn? How do they compensate for a weakness? How do they respond when they are intimidated, in pain, or dealing with a tough opponent or under high pressure? Do they read, react, and respond quickly or is there delay? They want to know which athlete to call upon to inspire the team and who is better at admonishing a fellow player. And, coaches definitely want know the athletes who will instill their culture and generate team unity.

Scientific coaching tools to know innate mental wiring

The good news is there is an equally scientific and objective way to answer these connection questions about the mental make-up and mental performance of an athlete. The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator™ (MBTI™) is a coaching tool when properly administered and interpreted, provides a more complete understanding of how to train athletes given their innate physical and mental strengths and deficiencies. When you know how an athlete is inherently wired, you can better lead, admonish, motivate, and teach an athlete. You gain insight on how an athlete handles pressure, conflict, and stress.

Clearly, in your role as a coach, you need to discover and connect to each athlete and learn the right style to draw out the best in their performance. Expectations you set will be slightly different for each athlete. The way you interact, persuade, and correct will be different. The way you nurture a strength, give compliments, and the way you develop a weakness will be varied depending on the athlete's innate mental wiring.

As a coach, you do not want to label or select an athlete solely based on a MBTI ‘braincode’. But, MBTI results certainly can help you understand your athletes. This coaching tool also provides insight on which position or role he or she is best suited for, which players tend to perform better in a team situation versus an individual situation, and which athletes will lead more by example or be the leader who rallies the troupes into high octane action.

Knowing how to connect to your athletes leads to unlocking their fullest athletic and mental potential. Again, the MBTI is one coaching tool to guide you to generate a winning consistency across your program while addressing the specificity of your athletes. NeuroSport provides this thorough athlete assessment using neuroscience, the MBTI, and a personal interview & intake form. The results generate vital information in the quest for consistent high performance of each athlete.

Kip Rodgers, LPC-S

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