How to Coach like a Greek Philosopher

Has anyone heard of Stoicism?

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Two of the biggest influence on my approach to coaching – Process Focused Coaching, are Albert Ellis and Ken Ravizza. Both have passed on, and both were heavily influenced by the Stoic philosophy.

Ellis was described as a ‘Stoic Philosopher with a Sailor’s Mouth’. He was inspired by the writings of Stoic Philosophers to devise Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT). REBT was the first form of Cognitive Behavior Therapy and is still my preferred technique for athlete counseling.

According to Ellis, “people are not disturbed by things but rather by their view of things.” This is a dead ringer to the quote below by Epictetus (one of the three most important Stoic philosophers along with Marcus Aurelius and Seneca).

“It isn’t the events themselves that disturb people, but only their judgments about them.” – Epictetus

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Dealing with Aggressive Coaches

The question put to me by a friend was essentially – what can she do to ask her daughter’s primary school coach to be less harsh and loud?

The primary school softball team had started holiday training in preparation for next year. She observed that the coach tends to yell at the kids when they make mistakes, as a result they tend to be very tentative when they play. Her daughter tends to “freeze out” especially when it’s her turn to bat.

Yogi Berra Quote

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Coaching = Planning?

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A friend serving as a student development officer at a Polytechnic was sharing with me how one of his sports team lost a good coach. The coach did not have her contract renewed because she could not produce a detailed enough training plan. In her place was a new coach who could write a very detailed periodized training plan, but apparently sucked at coaching.

Sadly, there seems to be quite a few administrators (who spend more time behind their lap tops rather than coaching) demanding unreasonable specifics from coaches.

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So You Think You’re Special?

 

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“When One teaches, Two learn.” This statement aptly sums up my experience conducting the ‘Coaching and The Growth Mindset’ workshop last week for Singapore Gymnastics. The coaches present were from culturally diverse backgrounds. There were coaches from Japan, China, Russia, Ukraine, Bulgaria and Singapore.

This group of coaches were particularly generous with their sharing (without going off tangent), and I learnt so much from them, especially when they related their experiences to the Talent-Effort Fallacy.

What is The Talent-Effort Fallacy?

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Effort, Support & Learning

In the previous post, we discussed why praising athletes “shamelessly” might foster the Fixed Mindset. That does not mean we should hold back praises. Instead, we may want to be more deliberate in reinforcing the actual effort that leads to learning (rather than ability), and to mix up external praises with process based feedback.

The objective for this post is similar to the last one – to provide anyone in a coaching role (you could be a teacher or parent) with strategies that will help their athletes foster a mindset that pushes one to train consistently, cope with inevitable failures and to bounce back even stronger and better.

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Why ‘Good Job’ is not good enough…

Ever came across “positive” coaches who praise athletes for almost anything they do? I vividly remembered a rollerblading coach who was constantly praising kids even when they performed the drills incorrectly. There was this one kid who told her that he needed to leave early and her reply was “Good Job! Go ahead”.

How is leaving early deserving of praise I wondered…

“Why Good Job is not Good enough…” 

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Coaching and the Crab Mentality

There were lots of criticism about a local coach on social media the past couple of days. One of his athletes wrote a long post criticizing him about how badly he was running his coaching business and his compulsive borrowing habits.

This is bad news and would inevitably have implications on the coach-athlete relationship which would in turn compromise the athlete’s growth and performance! Besides, no coach should abuse the trust of their athletes especially given their position of respect and authority (at least most of the time lah…).

It’s not about this coach!   

Just to be clear, I’ve got nothing against this coach (just a little bothered that he is not registered with the NROC) and this post isn’t about him. What bothered me enough to write this are the typical response from the coaching fraternity, and a sprinkle of PE teachers, whenever a coach gets into trouble, or when they are doing well for themselves financially.

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