Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Positive Coaching by Jim Thompson

A lot of coaches and teachers come from a relatively successful background in their field and they never suffered from a lack of interest or motivation. Or, they weren't particularly successful and consequently have a my-students-won't-make-the-same-mistakes-I made attitude. Because of this, it can be tough to empathize with a student who is low on volition and motivation.
I would say that one of our primary roles as teachers, trainers, coaches, mentors, and parents is that of a motivator. When I start to get exasperated that a student isn't motivated to learn the difficult subject or skill I'm teaching, I just have to remember that I still have to motivate my 4 year old to take a bath and I simmer down... Now, I know that many will say "Well, I can't do anything if they don't want it themselves!", and yeah, it's true that "A mind is like a parachute - it only functions if it's open." and "You gotta want it!". But remember that adults, just like kids, have motivation levels that sometimes gush, and sometimes wane.

About 7 years ago, I was starting to get back into coaching after a long hiatus and was in the bookstore looking for books that pertained to competitive swimming and coaching in general. I found some great ones, among them was the latest edition of Ernest Maglischo's classic "Swimming Faster", appropriately titled Swimming Fastest, and another that came to be one of my favorites, Positive Coaching by Jim Thompson. Although the book's primary focus is on age-group coaching, I think this is an incredible resource for anyone who teaches, coaches, mentors, trains, or parents. Pick up a copy if you have a chance.

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