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“Great players don’t make great coaches”

One of the most challenging things about coaching is having the metacognition necessary to be able to understand your own through process and impart that upon others.
Others who don’t have a lot of experience or understanding of movement, how their body feels, what kind of discomfort is acceptable vs unacceptable, etc.

There’s an adage that “great players don’t make great coaches.” I don’t think this is necessarily true, since there are plenty of great players who also became great coaches.

Tthe wisdom goes that “everything comes easy to great players” so that they are unable to explain this to others.

I don’t think this is quite right. Instead, I think that the skillset of highly adapted metacognition surrounding “how you do something” is exceedingly rare.
And, the skillset of being “great” at nything is also extremely rare.

So, I think these variables, in most cases, are relatively independent – although I would bet there is some overlap in metacognition with greatness in that an element of self-reflection and understanding what to work on is probably a key component of the practice necessary to become great.

Since we have two extremely rare traits, the intersection of the two – “great coaches and great players” – is vanishingly small. I don’t think great players can’t be great coaches, just that very few are blessed with the metacognition necessary to become a fantastic coach.

Anyway, as in most scenarios related to athletics, coaching, and business, we spend a lot of time on plateaus. We struggle to figure out what we’re doing wrong, we flail around messily, we make fits and starts of progress, then we suddenly “level up.”

Watching our proteges go through this process can be frustrating. We can see that they’re so close to the “next level,” and they just need to figure out a few more steps to get there.

We want to jump in and give them the answers that will move them to the next step.

However, oftentimes the best action that we can take is to simply wait and allow time to take its course.

Sometime soon, the accumulation of work, reps and practice will result in the leveling up that we’re looking for. While a coaching cue or a piece of feedback can accelerate the process, we must learn to love the plateau since that is where we will spend most of our time.


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