Note the baseline when you begin the coaching and learning journey

The following is an excerpt from: Clear Coaching: Harness Clarity To Drive Development by Todd Beane

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"Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted."

-- William Bruce Cameron

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Understand the athlete before you today.

Be careful as you assess the baseline qualities of an individual. Keep in mind that numbers are not a person. Also, understand that you harbor bias and that bias bleeds into every observation you make evaluating the qualities of other human beings. The research on this is clear.

The point here is that children are complex and remarkable beings. They develop better with advocacy than with negative scrutiny. Do not obsess over analytics to the point that a child feels like she is playing sport under a microscope.

Stay true to your noble purpose of promoting learning. As you do, responsibly observe and collect pertinent information. You are attempting to take a snapshot of today.

Knowledge: What does your athlete know today?

Skills: What can your athlete do today?

Character: How does your athlete behave today?

Take note of the knowledge, skills, and character you have listed on the ideal athlete model. You will want to collect specific data that is aligned with those characteristics. There are many ways this can be done.

Athlete Survey
Ask the athlete. Why is she participating? What are her goals? What would she like to improve? What part of her character brings pride? What does she expect from you?

Parent Survey
Ask the parents. What are their expectations? What are their priorities? What background information will support the development of their child?

Physical Metrics
Conduct tests. Of course here it is important to make the distinction between what a player can control and what is beyond his control. For example, a player does not control his height, maturation schedule, or birth month. Do not prejudice a child for factors beyond his control.

Record the training. Record the first day's exercises and return to that video to show the player her progress. Keep in mind that a player's motivation is fueled by a belief in progress. An athlete may not see her own improvement. If you document progress and praise a player's effort, the effect is profoundly powerful. Show and tell, so to speak.

Of course, your specific sport will have its own traditional and creative opportunities.

In clear coaching, you are trying to present a realistic assessment of today without burdening the athlete with negative scrutiny. You will use this information to document the change in your student over the time she spends with you.

There is another reason to collect baseline data. You have an obligation to facilitate improvement. You are also on a learning journey.

The baseline is the version of your athlete today. Note it.

Clear Coaching: Harness Clarity To Drive Development by Todd Beane, 96 pages, paperback $14, Kindle $9.00.

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Todd Beane is the founder and CEO of the TOVO Institute and founding director of the Cruyff Institute.

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