The 4 Stages of Coaching

Women's Steeplechase, 2016 Stumptown Twilight | photo ©

Women's Steeplechase, 2016 Stumptown Twilight | photo ©

During my journey in the coaching profession, I've noticed four distinct stages experienced by practitioners of the craft: 

  1. Eager
  2. Intoxicated
  3. Sober
  4. Serenity  

The novice coach is eager and motivated to learn, teach, achieve, and make a name for themselves. Their fuel is enthusiasm, their limitation experience and knowledge. I enjoyed this stage, personally residing there for a long time, and relish the opportunity to connect with young coaches starting on this path. No one stays in this stage forever, but every coach starts their journey here. 

The second stage of intoxication can be overwhelming. One can become overly obsessed with results, the rigid adherence to their "perfect method" of training, self-importance, ego, or the overabundance of training information on offer. The intoxication is not bad, simply a consequence of lack of discernment as one works towards understanding how to separate signal from noise, truth from ficiton. 

Sooner or later, a decision is made to simplify the complex, mute the ego, not worry about results, and instead clearly focus on what matters most, the people and the work. A sober outlook is earned by deciding all the things not to concern yourself with, and sharply commit to the fundamentals of the craft and the people whom you seek to serve. 

And finally, serenity, the stage of untroubled waters.

Typically, this is the home of a master coach who has multiple decades of experience. A craftsperson who has made countless mistakes, guided some champions, yes, but more importantly, has helped develop countless athletes. In this stage, the coach has come to realize the singular purpose of sport — helping others go places and do things they never thought possible. All that matters is supporting the athlete's journey towards realizing the best version of themselves, however that may come to look. 


Thanks for reading. I'm glad you're here. // jm 

Jonathan Marcus