From June 6 to 8, Beat the Streets leadership attended an educational course hosted by United World Wrestling designed to help coaches learn how to teach one another. The course was held at the Hilton Hotel in Los Angeles, where Executive Director Brendan Buckley and head girls coach Jacque Davis were in attendance.
On the first day of class, instructors wasted no time getting right to the first “practical,” where each attendee had to get in front of the group and play the role of an educator. At this point, the instructors had not yet explained the role of an educator, so it was a chance for the coaches to act on what they thought was expected of the role.
“One by one, we all floundered,” said Davis, “but what we later found out is that our mentors were letting us fail on purpose.” There were a lot of challenges associated with trying something so unfamiliar for the coaches, but at the end of the course Davis felt they had all been better prepared for shifting from being a coach to being an educator, as well.
“This course is something that is so far from the realm of how we coaches usually think and practice that, to be honest, it was sort of overwhelming at first.” Davis said that the course was focused on helping the creation of a long-term development plan for the sport by giving attention to new coaches, the people with the most influence and ability for creating growth.
As Davis learned, the role of an educator is vastly different from that of a coach, and success requires masterful communication. Contrary to what one may expect, “this doesn’t mean talking a lot, rather it means talking as little as possible.” Finding the middle ground between asking and delegating is how coaches can lead to this kind of educational growth.
“As a former wrestler and a collegiate coach for 19 years, the methodology and the philosophy being taught completely challenged everything we have come to know as coaches and educators in the sport of wrestling,” said Buckley. They were pushed to use their communication skills to ask coaches their goals of the session and find the methodology to teach the skill, and then let the coach do so in a hands-off fashion. It was a challenge for even the most seasoned coaches in attendance.
Davis and the other coaches left the intense multi-day session with the sense that teaching others how to become effective coaches meant learning to ask, not tell, making failure safe, and helping people generate their own answers and ideas. They would also strive to help people recognize the “why” behind the “what,” be positive, give personalized feedback, and let their athletes play and learn through games. We’re excited to bring these lessons back to NYC to help bolster the wrestling culture of the city!