A great coach is closer to a seller than a teacher.
Teachers - at least in the traditional sense - have knowledge which them impart through instruction. Salesmen, on the other hand, make a compelling case that influences someone’s behaviour.
In the past, the coach has been a teacher. Learners listen, watch and try the correct method as instructed.
Recently though, the power of the coach to instruct has been diminished. Players have got knowledge already because they have had lots of coaching, they have read articles and watched videos, and they have been empowered by knowing there are many ways to do things.
Instead of arriving at a coach with the mindset of “teach me”, players have the mindset of “convince me you’re right”.
Coaches have to start by convincing players. Coaches have to become sellers.
In my opinion this is universally better. Players have to be convinced or they won’t stay the course. If they don’t know why something is important, they won’t stick with it. There’s so many other options. Every time a coach works with a player or team, they must “start with why”.
For example, a team I work with has a lot of players with raw talent but very little team spirit. They don’t fight, but they are not a cohesive unit. They are also very technically focused, using training as a way to correct technique and master the basics.
I went into sales mode.
I spoke to players individually and as a team, asking them to bring in the “Rule of Three” (a method I have pinched from Mark Bennett) as a way to manage training sessions. My selling point was that the Rule of Three would make us better than the sum of our parts as a team. The players would have more space for making their own decisions, organising themselves and building resilience. It would also give them freedom to work on the basics and hone technique. There were no compromises, only benefits.
Stepping into the present; after two sessions, all but one player is nailing it. They are more engaged, working together better and there is less intervention from me as a coach.
All because I spent the time to convince them first, rather than barrelling in t tell them to behave.
There’s still work to do of course. The one player who is not convinced yet will come round if my sales skills are on point. Others will need to build the habit as it’s a big change of mindset.
But, they believe.
And when they understand why, they will follow you.