Book ReviewsYouth strength and conditioning

Conscious Coaching – Book Review


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Title: Conscious Coaching: The Art and Science of Building Buy-In
Authors: Brett Bartholomew
Topic: Coaching, Psychology, Personal Development
Appropriate for: Coaches of all sports
Overall rating: 5/5 – this should be a key text on all coaching courses and exercise science degrees!
I’d heard a lot of hype surrounding the release of this book. There’s a lot of books on programming, skill development, the science of training and training methods, but very few resources dedicated to the psychology of coaching and how to improve the connection with your athletes.¬†The longer I coach athletes, the more I understand that being able to achieve high level performance is often based on habits, which are usually difficult to understand or alter without understanding the person behind the athlete. Hence, psychology and behaviour change is something I think is really influential in good coaching.
As I’ve written about previously, you can have the best training programme and get awful results and contrastingly have a lacklustre program that gets great results. Additionally, many of the most knowledgeable coaches struggle to get or keep jobs, while others with only basic understanding manage to get great jobs! I believe much of this is down to interpersonal skills and emotional IQ. This is pretty much what this book goes into in great depth, complete with supporting research and direct examples from coaches in the industry.
So, over to the book! The content within this book covers understanding yourself as a coach (motivations, behaviour, personality etc.) as well as the coach you want to be. From there it discusses how to best utilise you own traits rather than imitate others. The author then discusses the 12 archetypes in terms of the type of people we tend to come across as coaches, as well as the pros/cons and challenges of each. Each archetype is described in details and a coach contributes an example of the archetype in their own practice and how they may have connected with them. Some examples are the soldier, the wolverine and the hypochondriac. I found this really interesting and as I was reading each archetype it was opening my eyes to the athletes I coach as I would think “That’s definitely describing this athlete”.
The author then offers 13 coaching mistakes to avoid in your practice, which I definitely have been guilty of and would agree are definitely worth be wary of. For example, focussing on your own agenda only, not getting feedback from your athletes and always wanting to be the expert. He then goes on to discuss 7 “Trust Tenets” which can help you avoid or remove some of the barriers in your coaching. A key tenet is the “3 Rs”:

  • Research your athletes
  • Relate to your athletes
  • Reframe the athletes point of reference/your own point of reference

The final part of the book looks at the application of conscious coaching to our craft and lives. The author has also put together a “Field Guide” to help with this aspect which contains numerous tasks and activities to help apply the theory to practice. It is available to download here.
The information provided in this book will undoubtedly help better my understanding of the people in front of me, their motivations and their potential challenges, ultimately improving my coaching. I would definitely recommend purchasing it!! If this review hasn’t convinced you yet, Brett Bartholomew is also offering a free chapter as a download here.
You can find the book here: Conscious Coaching: The Art and Science of Building Buy-In
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