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3 ways coaches can become mentors

If you are new to the game, coaching is defined as 'a process that aims to improve performance and focuses on the ‘here and now’ rather than on the distant past or future.

(Source: On tennis courts everywhere, this can mean a focus on following instructions -- the tried-and-tested method of the instructor as the 'giver' of knowledge and guide, and the learner as the 'taker' of said knowledge.

A powerful way to expand this model can be turning this one-way flow into a two-way communication of ideas and experiences, wherein both the coach and learner are equally part of the learning journey. Mark Van Doren, the American poet, writer and critic was a scholar and a professor of English at Columbia University for nearly 40 years."The art of teaching, he said, is the art of assisting discovery."

Coaches can up their game considerably with three tried-and-tested methods:

First, a regular practice of self-reflection can plow back valuable learning. Many people using journaling as a tool for self-reflection. Others have access to mentors who can help them talk through an issue or challenge. Whatever your method, self-reflection, which the Cambridge Dictionary defines as 'the activity of thinking about your own feelings and behaviour, and the reasons that may lie behind them,' has the power to strengthen one's emotional intelligence. It has been linked to acting with integrity: being clear about the core values that define you will lead you to better decisions.

Second, learning how to give feedback may improve your communication with students and make sure that your inputs are always valued. The purpose behind giving feedback is to help improve the learning levels or teach a skill. Try not to use one-sided, exaggerated words or phrases to make a point. Examples of such words could be "always" and "never", which can imply that things will not change.

Third, omit blame. When things go wrong, find a way of framing what just happened using a specific set of actions and instances that could be carried out differently. This builds confidence in the learner and deletes the helplessness and anger that triggers blame.

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