On the first day of pretty much any coach education programme for any sport a question will be asked about the ‘role of the coach’.

It’s pretty important! You should probably know what you’re getting yourself into before you unleash your unbridled enthusiasm on the next generation of Taekwon-Do students.

Everyone looks at each other and they assume that everyone has the same understanding of the question as they do and that it’s all pretty ‘obvious’.

It might be obvious to some longer serving coaches out there but for the new or novice coach… prepare for one or two surprises!

The ‘OBVIOUS’ stuff

A coach is an educator, a teacher, a guide and a mentor. They hold the knowledge and have the skills to share it.

They light the way in the darkness and guide the student to their ultimate destination.

They give sage advice along the way, showing that all that time waxing on and waxing off was secretly brilliant practice all along. They plan, implement and review then plan again. Set goals and make sure they’re achieved.

Some less ‘OBVIOUS’ stuff

The coach is often the taxi driver, the travel agent, tour guide or paramedic. Very often the coach drives the car or mini bus that gets students to events.

They organise the trips by land, sea and air that widen the students horizons and help them to see the world of ITF Taekwon-Do.

They fill the off time with cultural expeditions, making sure no scenic side kick picture is ever left untaken. And when someone gets hurt, home or away, the coach is usually first at hand trying to remember how the triangular bandage goes on or how to strap that twisted ankle.

The really not ‘OBVIOUS’ stuff

The coach is the guidance counsellor, the therapist, the friend, the confidant, the sounding board, the referee, the mirror and the servant.

Time spent in service of your students places you in a very important position of care and trust.

The deeper the connection and relationship the more likely your conversations with your students will deal with career, relationships, stresses and elation.

You’ll hear the next big thing first, have the idea that scares them bounced off you and you’ll often be the mirror held up to show how things could have. been done differently.

Most of all though… yours is a position of service, often thankless but incredibly rewarding if you’re of the right mindset.

If it’s all about you, you are probably less effective in the role. When the athlete comes first and the coach facilitates then great things can happen. When the coach comes first and the athlete has to adapt or fall away the outcome is less fruitful.

If you’re still training, you probably had a coach who made a great impression on you at some point. Maybe they fulfilled some or all of these roles in your life? Saturday 25th September is European Coaches Day and an opportunity to give a little recognition to your Coach and to say thank you for the impact they’ve had on your life.

Maybe give them a call, write a little post, share a picture or video and use the hashtag #thankscoach. Let’s help the role of the coach get the recognition it deserves and thank those who do it well.

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