Using a Coach and How to get the Most out of Them

Now that most of us in the Southern Hemisphere have completed our National championships, our attention must turn to analysing our results so that we can improve for next years competition.  

Some competitors will be more than satisfied with the end result but for most, now that they have competed on the same track with the best in their class, their minds will be turning to what they need to do to show up higher on the leader-board next year.

Of course most of us lament the fact that we did not have enough time on the water but a surefire way to shorten the process is to engage a coach.  Coaching doesn’t have to be an expensive venture for it to add immense value.

Step 1: Find the Right Coach

Consider avoiding a coach who has a personality similar to yours. Sailors often assume that understanding the sport will come easier when explained by a like mind, but benefits will come from those who notice your weaknesses. Seek coaches who are experts in your weak areas. For example, if you struggle with starts, look for a coach skilled in that area.

Step 2: Show Up with the Right Attitude

You’re not there to show the coach how much you know, you’re there to grow. Show up with an open mind, ready to improve or learn something new. Keep your emotions in check. they cloud the experience and distract from getting every bit of information from a coach.

Step 3: Come with Questions
If you have a question, chances are that someone else does too. Either as an individual or as a team, spend time writing down a few questions to ask the coach. Having questions ready will help the coach make sure you get the experience you’re looking for.

Step 4: Debrief
Take time to debrief with the coach and then debrief with your crew immediately afterwards to share thoughts and the biggest take-aways. Discuss ideas for improvement and make a game plan for implementing and practicing new techniques.

Step 5: Document & Implement 
Turn your game plan into a playbook for the boat. In addition to being a great resource , a playbook gives new crew ideas on how manoeuvres are made. The key to an effective playbook is to keep it simple with not much confusing detail.

ALTERNATIVE COACHING IDEAS

  •  Video: Coaching doesn’t have to be expensive, take Go-Pro videos and have a coach review them plus trade and evaluate each other’s tapes.
  • Peer Review: Sailors can find coaches in their peers.  Take turns making manoeuvres and then discuss what went well and what didn’t –  exchange ideas. 
  • Split Costs: Set up a few-days training session or a clinic for the fleet, and split the coaching costs. 
  • Seminars: Take advantage of seminars, if there aren’t any in your area, call your sailmaker and arrange one for your local yacht club.

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