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Coaching is not all about building skills.

Coaching is not all about building skills. Think “experiences” too!

One thing that is cool being an “old dog” in the profession of coaching, is you get lucky enough to experience a lot: the highs, the lows and everything in between.

I have been fortunate enough to help during this past season some of the AASI’s top instructors and trainers as they prepared for a 4-day course to win selection to the AASI National Team. It’s a huge honor, and it brings together the very best from around the nation. Not only is it an intensive exam, but it also a GREAT forum to bring together opinions, expertise and discuss all facets involved in the sport of snowboarding.

During my time with my crew, we discussed many things, and one of the main talking points was how do we as coaches, instructors and trainers make what we do “cool” again? As we kicked the can down the road, we started to look at building cool snowboard experiences vs only teaching or coaching for skills-based results.

In my over 25 years of coaching, I can never remember any one of my clients or athletes coming back years later and having one of their highlights being a specific skill that they learnt. No-one has ever said to me “Remember that sick heel-side turn I did back in 97?” or “Boydy, that carving drill we did in 2001 was one of the highlights of my career!”

Our athletes remember “experiences”. They remember awesome powder days, or highlights from a road trip, trips to New Zealand and a multitude of other things.

It got me thinking that maybe, as teachers and coaches, we need to be looking at the total package we provide as coaches. Sure, acquiring skills is the ultimate way that we progress athletes, but unless the athlete is engaged and happy, they are not going to want to learn new skills, nor will they stick with the sport.

Experiential coaching (or learning) provides many advantages for our athletes:

  1. It makes a sport a culture and life choice more than just a chore.

  2. It keeps the “fun” in the sport.

  3. It allows the athlete to focus on more than just results and building skills that helps to alleviate pressure and the “eggs all in one basket” mentality.

  4. It provides the athlete to learn about the culture and history of the sport.

  5. It helps the athlete to have a lifelong love of the sport.

  6. It allows you, as coaches, to be more creative in how you build out your coaching plans.

  7. By focusing on experiential coaching, it encourages the athlete to improve their skills so they can enjoy more experiences.

  8. It helps provide balance in the athlete’s life.

Now, not for one minute am I suggesting that we abandon building athletic skills for the sake of fun, but I would suggest that coaches start to place building positive experiences for their athletes into their bag of tricks.

At the end of the day, all we really want to see as coaches is our athletes progress with a smile on their face. By employing some experiential coaching techniques into your playbook will help you achieve this!

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