Many archers start shooting without a coach, but many others take lessons through clubs or school programs. After completing beginner lessons, archers seeking to advance as far as possible must choose a coach for individualized help.
Qualities like experience, friendliness, and personality fit should be considered when searching for a coach and these traits vary by individual archers and their ultimate goals.
When seeking a coach’s help, archers must consider if professional qualifications matter to them, such as certifications from national governing bodies like USA Archery, Archery Canada, etc. Courses on coaching and subsequent certifications tend to focus on Olympic recurve and compound archery.
For traditional or barebow archers, finding a certified or accredited coach might be less important than finding one whose style of shooting most interests them. A coach with deep knowledge gained through personal experience might make an excellent instructor, even for Olympic recurve and compound archery, even if they lack professional certifications.
Let’s review some considerations when seeking a coach.
Coaches must be great communicators to convey their ideas to athletes, parents and support staff. Neither coach nor athlete should be afraid to address issues that arise. After all, open communication can make the coach-athlete team unstoppable. Good communication leaves no ambiguity, and it makes training and practice efficient.
“You can’t over-communicate in relationships that are important to you,” said Kyle Paquette, my personal sport psychologist. Even if the topic is potentially awkward, such as creating distance in the relationship, archers must communicate their desires or concerns without hesitation.
Athletes can’t work closely with a coach unless they trust and respect each other. They must consider each other’s opinions, and the athlete must trust what the coach says and does during practice and competition.
Likewise, the coach must trust that the archers know what’s best for themselves while practicing and competing. Archers must share, for example, whether they want to receive technical or mental advice while competing, or if they want to know results throughout the event. Coaches must tailor their methods to accommodate the archer’s requests.
Coaches shouldn’t disregard the archer’s preferences except when they direly need help. In those cases, the archer should trust that the coach has their best interests in mind. Such trust takes time to develop, but it’s crucial for archers at every level.
Willingness to Learn
Good coaches also learn teaching methods and techniques from several sources. Coaches unwilling to learn from coaching colleagues can be stubborn and difficult, which leads to frustrations from their archer and others at the range.
Coaches who expand their knowledge and repertoire are more effective with a wider range of archers in more situations because they know endless ways to teach archery’s subtleties. These effective coaches also learn from their archers each day they work together. Those lessons give coaches perspectives they can’t acquire through textbooks or certification courses and these face-to-face cooperative interactions are always more effective than confrontations.
Combining Vital Traits
Those three traits must combine when a coach suggests changes in an archer’s technical form. If the archer sought the coach’s help, they must trust the suggested changes, even if they feel awkward or difficult. If the archer tries to change but then struggles, the coach should help find alternatives to try.
Although the traits we’ve discussed don’t cover all aspects of great coaching, they’re important attributes of every great coach.