NOTE: The following, used with permission of the author, is excerpted from the Conscious Coaching Field Guide by Brett Bartholomew. This field guide is a companion piece to Bartholomew’s book, Conscious Coaching: The Art & Science of Building Buy-In, which is mentioned at the bottom of this piece.
“Be practical as well as generous in your ideals. Keep your eyes on the stars, but remember to keep your feet on the ground.”
– U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt
For strength and conditioning coaches, Teddy Roosevelt’s message still resonates today: Theory is great, but nothing beats applied strategy. So, the info to follow will give you practical ways to put key strategies and principles in Conscious Coaching to use in the real world. The aim is to help you become a more well-rounded coach who’s better equipped to deal with not only the physics involved in training but also the social physics inherent to our vocation.
Lead better, communicate better
In our never-ending quest to be better informed in order to predict outcomes, we’ve forgotten something important: coaching interactions are dynamic, and power always plays a role, so outcomes can never be fully anticipated and are instead constantly negotiated (Jones 2006).
In the “information age,” we know more than ever before about the world, but in many ways it has also become less predictable. That’s because data is only one part of the equation when it comes to knowledge transfer and craftsmanship. Coaches are not lacking in theory or studies, but rather application and understanding.
We have heard the voices and frustrations of countless coaches who want to become better leaders and communicators.
Understand people, not just exercises
For too long there was a push to enhance movement quality and efficiency while neglecting to do the same for coaching strategies and communication.
There should be no argument about which is most important: improving our athletes’ movement, and improving our own strategies and communication both hold the same critical importance in what we do.
In fast-paced, pressure-packed high-performance environments, fluctuating agendas and attitudes can dramatically impact the task-based outcomes and relational outcomes we are trying to achieve. It is within this sociopolitical context we learn that understanding people can prove to be far more challenging than understanding exercises. Yet you can find ample resources if you want to learn about weightlifting movements or other technical aspects of training such as speed and agility, but few that can help you learn adaptive coaching strategies.
This info is another contribution on my part to help you add more coaching weapons to your arsenal. By developing effective strategies for interacting with others, you and your colleagues can bridge the gap with every high performer you support.
The activities which will follow in the posts to come, have been designed to help you and your colleagues hone your abilities to effectively navigate the highly interactional playing field you, your athletes, and members of your organization face daily. As with the information in Conscious Coaching, the activities are not useful just for coaches, but for leaders in any realm who are looking to improve themselves in communication or conflict management.
They can be adapted in any manner that you like, and you can pick and choose those that are most relevant to the issues you currently face or the abilities you or members of your staff need to improve. These activities are going to be uncomfortable for some, and require creativity, vulnerability, and the ability to improvise on the spot. Such is the nature of the world of coaching. Successful interaction in these activities – and in situations you’ll experience throughout life – will depend on your ability to fully engage no matter how “foolish” you may feel in the moment. Play the long game, and don’t let pride or ego corrode an opportunity for improvement.
Each activity has been divided into: an overview; the application, which includes instructions on how to do the activity; and some guiding insights in a “helping hand” note at the end.
Stay tuned for the upcoming Conscious Coaching activities to help: Coaching, Leadership, Communication and Managing Conflicts…
For more info from the author, check out Conscious Coaching: The Art & Science Of Building Buy-In
In the world of strength and conditioning, learning how to move others—not just physically, but also psychologically and emotionally—is the key to getting the most out of them. Understanding how to effectively blend knowledge of proper training with the nuances of human behavior is vital to helping athletes achieve their ultimate goals. But while much attention has been given to the science of physical training, little attention has been given to the science of communication.
Conscious Coaching: The Art and Science of Building Buy-In bridges this gap. It teaches the foundational principles of improving relationships, enhancing engagement, and gaining the trust of athletes through targeted communication. Just as important, it teaches concrete strategies to apply these principles in day-to-day coaching situations. By doing so, it sets the stage for coaches to create a culture of success within sport, but also beyond.
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