Guided or Discovery Coaching

This article was written and submitted to me by Björn Galjaardt. The article has application to coaching regardless of the sport that you coach.

With a flirt to water polo…

What do you do? How do you do it? Questions that are less important after understanding the why. Why do you wake up to go to training? Why do you want to learn? Why do I do this drill?

The ‘why’ also works on self-reflection and stimulates the positive actions by self-acknowledgement.

In The Netherlands where I grew up these were normal questions. Even to ask teachers, heck even to ask teachers in primary school (hence the Dutch educational system is in the top 10). From athletes, coaches, parents, stake holders point of view, the ‘why’ is more important than ‘how’ and ‘what’.

Without reason, true motivation will lose its power over time. Why athletes do certain drills has to be made clear. Athletes also need to ask for clarification and, from a coaches’ point of view, the question also needs to be asked back(!). Why do you swim there? Why do you slide left before you baulk? Sometimes athletes already doing great work, but aren’t even aware of it. The ‘why’ also works on self-reflection and stimulates the positive actions by self-acknowledgement. In addition, this doesn’t need to be initiated by the coach. The ‘why’ can work as a mirror both ways! (E.g. Why do I teach reverse guard?).

Fancy terms like “guided coaching style”, “discovery coaching methods” don’t suit everyone. Subsequently not everyone is suited for this style. Meaning that the best coaches cannot always be successful everywhere. Depending on the culture, and many other factors, but also finding the ‘why’ in the team, individuals and support around it.

Sometimes it is a matter of understanding and sometimes there is no need for clarity. Sometimes it just needs to be done. As part of the learning process and extending the boundaries. Lately I read the book Start With Why from Simon Sinek. Although I won’t get a free book by promoting this, it is one of those interesting reads I would certainly more than recommend as ‘food for thought’.

The ‘how’ and the ‘what’ will show results in processes and/or products.

Recently I have been privileged to work on the board with great members in Water Polo Queensland. Finding the ‘why’ resulted in a fantastic strategic plan, great new people and many more positive changes to come. The ‘how’ and the ‘what’ will come out in services, up-skilling programs, development, providing competition, state wide quality, etc. I also see changes in athletes, parents and clubs with who I worked with and extended my network.

Individuals and surroundings will always change. So do teams, coaches and athletes. Daily, weekly, through the season and yearly. Sixty butterfly in late season, learning tactics to twelve year olds, the elbow in the water whilst shooting, the block with the wrong arm, etc. Sometimes pause a second and go back to the ‘why’. It gives more power, energy and above all clarity to fulfill the ‘how’ and ‘what’.


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