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Coaching Chapter 1

By Craig Pickering

I’ve contributed articles to this website for nearly a year, and it has been a very worthwhile experience. I have discovered a wealth of interesting information, tried to understand how best to implement it, and organized my thoughts on a wide range of subjects. I think more of you coaches should join me in this worthwhile pursuit.

Here are eight compelling reasons.

Writing keeps you honest

Do you have a good idea about training? A specific method you implement with your athletes? Why not subject it to a peer-review process by putting it out there for people to read and provide feedback? You’ll soon find out whether readers agree with you. Because the internet removes face-to-face interaction, people can be quite honest!

It’s also a great opportunity to see if others utilize your ideas, or if they might do things differently. Their feedback may prompt you to refine your methods or techniques, and perhaps even find completely new directions to consider.

Writing increases the exchange of ideas

Everyone has ideas: the best ways to train, the best diets, the best ways to prepare athletes for competition. If everyone kept such ideas to himself or herself, the coaching world would have far fewer choices. By writing articles, you’ll be contributing to the ongoing conversation regarding training approaches and physical preparation. After all, if you’re using other people’s ideas, it only seems fair to add some of your own. As a bonus, you will learn a lot in the process.

If everyone kept ideas to themselves, the coaching world would have far fewer choices. Share on X

Writing helps you remember

How many times have you read a good book or research article, decided that the key points are useful to you and your coaching, but then forgot to implement those ideas? Writing down key points and engaging in conversations about them helps you recall and revisit the key areas. So when I read something that I find useful, putting what I’ve learned into an article helps me remember it.

Writing improves your communication skills

Communication is one of your most vital skills as a coach. You need to communicate your ideas to your athletes in ways they can understand and retain. Effective communication is not always easy to master. It is also individualized—people can respond to the same information in different ways.

Writing provides the opportunity to improve your communication skills by passing along ideas and information in a useable format. You can also utilize different writing styles to see if one method is more effective than another in dealing with especially complex topics.

Communication is one of your most vital skills as a coach. Share on X

Writing gives you reasons to research

Researching different aspects of training and performance can be interesting, and (for me at least) enjoyable. But let’s face it—we’re all busy. Finding the time (and a reason) to carry out this research can be tough. Writing articles gives you a reason (or an excuse) to carve out the necessary time to research areas of interest. And who knows? You might find new information that contradicts some of your long-held beliefs. In addition, constant research keeps you up-to-date with the latest cutting-edge thinking. Updating their understanding of lactic acid is one place where all track coaches should start!

Number 6

Writing increases your visibility, and can improve your reputation

What if you have a bunch of really good ideas, but no one hears them? Nobody would know that you are a good coach! Recognition of your coaching ability can attract high-quality athletes. Getting your ideas out can also lead to speaking engagements or even job offers. Your growing reputation, in turn, fosters opportunities to improve your learning even more.

Number 7

Writing can organize your thoughts

Can you accurately sum up your thoughts and beliefs on hamstring injuries in sprinters? What exercise(s) should sprinters do to reduce their risk of these injuries? Should endurance athletes do plyometrics? Why? What’s more important in athletics—genes or environment? How can sleep affect your performance?

I have researched and written about all these issues for this website. As a result, my thoughts and beliefs on these topics are clearly organized. In turn, this clear organization better informs my training and coaching practices. You’d be surprised at how often you don’t actually know your opinion on something (or, in fact, how little you might know about a subject) until you start putting your thoughts into writing.

Number 8

Writing can monitor your growth as a coach

Four years ago, I had a brief stint writing articles for a different website. I thought I was smart, and I wrote like I knew everything. A few people tore me to shreds for this attitude, forcing me to step back and look at my thoughts and how I was presenting them. This self-examination wasn’t particularly enjoyable. The result: I took a break from writing for three years (so I wouldn’t recommend it!), but it was useful.

Looking back, I cringe at some of the things I wrote during this period. My interpretation of evidence was weak, I wasn’t doing the right kinds of research— nothing was quite what it should have been.

Despite my embarrassment, I’m proud of how far I’ve come. I could quite easily delete those early articles, though I choose not to. I made this decision for many reasons, one of which is that it’s proof of how much better I’ve become over the last few years. But please don’t try to find them!

There you have it— eight reasons why writing articles and blogs can be useful to you as a coach or trainer. So why not start today? Pick a subject, do some research, and put it out there. And enjoy the experience!

Please share this article so others may benefit.


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