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  • Writer's pictureJack Mullaney

Inside-Out Coaching

The best coaches I've observed are what I would describe as "inside-out" coaches.

They start by understanding their athlete as a person.

Then, they understand their athlete as an athlete.

Only then do they provide coaching to the athlete, based on that understanding.

Inside-out coaches prioritize connection before correction. They learn what's going on inside before they bring in something from the outside.

Unfortunately, I think a lot of new coaches can do the opposite. These are the "outside-in" coaches, who prioritize correction before connection.

They come in with their philosophy, their rules, and their vision, and begin "coaching" to that model right away.

Based on the athlete's response, they start to develop an understanding of the athlete as an athlete.

Only some time into the partnership do they begin to ask about the athlete as a person.

The problem with outside-in coaching is that it asks for compliance before trust. Conversely, inside-out coaching seeks to establish trust first by starting with connection.

As former Surgeon General Vivek Murthy remarked, "When we are deeply connected to other people, one of the great things that happens is that we’re more able to listen to them, we’re more able to give them the benefit of the doubt, and that makes dialogue possible.”

I feel like that goes for both athlete and coach. When a coach better understands their athlete, I think they're more likely to be adaptable in their coaching. When an athlete better understands their coach, I think they're more likely to trust their teaching.

There's a reason the adage that "they don't care how much you know until they know how much you care" has stood the test of time.

It's about coaching from the inside out.

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