A great performance in athletics can be just as helpful as great grades to get into a college or to be awarded a scholarship. For a parent to invest in a private coach for an athlete who has talent and enjoyment in his or her sport is a smart investment!
However, there definitely are some considerations to keep in mind.
#1. Prepare Your Environment For Success
The first step in realizing a goal is creating steps to get you to that goal. Foreseeing any possible tension that may arise and alleviating it before it becomes a factor of stress for an athlete is an important step to take.
For instance, some high school coaches may find it disruptive to the team or take it as an insult that an athlete will choose to look elsewhere for skill specific work. If this is the case, the coach may not want to support the athlete with the involvement of a private coach. In a perfect world, the high school coach will understand that an athlete seeking extra help is just like a student seeking out a tutor. Extra help to improve and excel is a quality that is admirable in a student and appreciated by a teacher. Hopefully a high school coach is able to appreciate that as well.
#2. Create A Support System
Any goal requires a support system. This is an opportunity for a young athlete to set up a support system for his or her athletic goals. If possible, the athlete can make sure there is an open line of communication between the private coach and the high school coach to eliminate any unneeded tension or confusion. Parents, friends, athletic trainers and bodywork specialists are also part of this support system. Nutrition, rest, and time management fall under support system as well.
A successful beginning with a private coach begins with an analysis of where an athlete is technically as well as an understanding of what the athlete’s goals are. Ideally, some video of competition or training to see the current skill level is helpful. If there is no video available, the first session with a private coach should be used to go over some basic running and jumping drills as well as a running element to see running mechanics in action.
I’ve worked with many young athletes that believe they know what they need to work on. Although I appreciate an athlete that is self-motivated and who is able to critique ability, it can get in the way of real improvement if you are seeking the guidance of a coach that has specific knowledge, experience and results. It is important for an athlete to communicate what they want to work on and achieve yet understand the coach has been accruing knowledge for many years that he or she is willing to share. Unfortunately, an athlete’s receptivity of what a coach is able to offer may be limited if an athlete doesn’t understand and appreciate this, resulting in missed opportunities of improvement.
#4. Discuss, Schedule & Plan
How much time is the athlete able to put in to a private coaching session: 1 x week, 2 x week? 1 hour 2 x a week or 2 hours 1 x a week? These would be typical scenarios. The most beneficial time period for skill specific sessions is two hours. A good warm up and skill work will take 2 hours. The coach should be present for the warm-up because this is where so many bad habits can be corrected as well as where so many bad habits start. Awareness of body position as well as cues in the warm up and in drills, will lay the foundation for successful technical sessions. Small cues with small movements make a big difference in the end result. The athlete should be doing the assigned drills all week on their own and on a session day, a review and critique of the basic drills is always helpful.
#5. Make A Training Plan
Keep in mind that a training plan is separate from a training session. A training plan will take into account what the athlete will do on a daily and weekly basis. Many times training plans are 3 weeks long before the plan needs to be changed. A 3-week training plan individually designed for an athlete would not necessarily be included in the private training session. Unless an athlete is working with a private coach for each day the first week of a 3-week plan with the intent to continue on for the remainder two weeks on his/her own. These training plans would be introduced pre-season most likely. If an athlete is solely looking for technical coaching during the season, then an athlete needs to be aware that the amount of coaching is more limited since competition days and team practices need to be taken into consideration. The last thing an athlete wants to do is accidentally over-train.
If the information you receive is overwhelming or too complex to process, speak up!
The private coach should be able to break things down for you. Most of the time, it should not be. An athlete that asks questions is a student of the sport. He or she is expressing interest in learning. I LOVE working with athletes like that!
The more technical an event, the more complex an approach may be. Either way, this is a good indicator if the coach can break things down in order for an athlete to understand. Open communication between coach and athlete starts here and will grow and form a trust that is essential to the success of any athlete.
If an athlete is ready to take his or her performance to the next level and has ambitions of receiving an athletic scholarship, it is time to hire a knowledgeable private coach!
Go get those dreams. Don’t just chase them.