Benefits of a Good Coach
by Terri-Ann Firth
In archery, I think it’s paramount that you never underestimate the benefits of having a good coach. As a junior archer, when I first started working with my coach, he did something that I’ve never forgotten. When he first offered to be my coach, I shot a few ends for him, and he watched from all different angles, taking in everything I was doing, then he called me over after I collected my arrows for a chat. I was very nervous as I never had a coach before this, and the first thing he did was spend a good ten minutes talking about all the things that I was doing really well, and referred to anything that I wasn’t doing too well as “things we need to work on”. Whilst this may not mean much to some people, but as a timid young archer, this meant the world to me, and something I will definitely remember, and use moving forward in my life.
One Size Doesn’t Fit All
The one thing my coach is very conscious of is that you can’t coach everyone the same way. He understands that everyone is built differently, everyone learns differently, everyone has different strengths and weaknesses, and one thing that works for one archer, won’t necessarily work for another. I believe this is key when it comes to archery, and will see more people stay within the sport, because if you go for the one size fits all approach, this may stick with a few archers who get the hang of it, and a lot of archers will stop shooting because they aren’t getting anywhere.
Training Is Key
There’s nothing better than working on something for quite a while, and seeing the positive affects it has on your shot. It’s also just as gratifying when your coach turns around to you and tells you that “it’s now dialled into your muscle memory, and we don’t need to worry about it now”. However, this scenario doesn’t come without its ups and downs. One of the key things I remember my coach saying to me was, the reason you train like you do, working on your form, focusing on shoulder positions, ensuring that you use the correct muscle groups, is because when you are on the shooting line at a competition, the last thing you want to think about is your shot process. At that point, it should all be within your muscle memory, and you should be focusing on the competition rather than any of the technicalities of your shot process. For me personally, myself and coach will have a quick chat before I start shooting, and write down the goals for the session and then at the end of the session we debrief about if we met the goals set out at the start. It’s also worth mentioning that every session isn’t going to be brilliant, especially when you’re starting something new, but the key thing to maintaining good training, is remaining positive, and having a dialogue with your coach with how things are going (good or bad).
Another big part of a good coach, is having an open discussion about your goals within the sport. I currently have my goals set for short, medium, and long term, all of varying difficulty. This enables your coach to understand what you want to achieve, and then you and your coach can then tailor your training sessions to suit the needs of your goals as well. My goals are split between performance goals, and outcome goals. What this means is, before a competition, I will discuss with my coach what my performance goal will be during the round, for example: This can be something you’ve been working on in training for the last few weeks. Outcome goals are what you want to achieve at the end of the competition, for example: A certain classification score, reaching a particular round in a head-to-head. For me personally, I like to have my goals on hand, either on the wall in my room, or easily accessible on my phone so I can have a look at them often, and motivate myself to keep pushing forward.
No matter who I’ve spoken with, whether its club archers, county archers, or archers who have shot for Great Britain, there is always the one constant, and that is a fierce coach behind the archer pushing them to their limits to be the best they can be. I would like to personally thank my coach for all the help, guidance, and patience he’s had with me over the years, I definitely wouldn’t be where I am today without you.