Book on my desk & Mentorship

Once and awhile I have to clean my desk from the books that I received, bought and read. Thanks to digital technology my desk should be cleaner, but it’s not. Most people I meet, mainly books freaks, still prefer hardcopies over e-books, despite all the advantages of e-books over hardcopies. Anyhow.

Good news: Robert Heiduk’s groundbreaking book about KAATSU training (maybe better known as Blood Flow Restriction training or BFR is now translated from German into the English language. And yes, it’s in hardcopy.

Also this period I read some interesting books that I like to share with you. The latest is the book: “Training Talk” by Martin Bingisser, Martin a American-Swiss hammer thrower, coach and educator, His own website is excellent and full of useful information for coaches, articles, interviews, video’s podcasts, etc: http://www.hmmrmedia.com/

Martin’s is book is also a worthwhile read: “conversations with a dozen master coaches” as the subtitle is. Master coaches like Anatoli Bondartchuk, Dan Pfaff, Gary Winckler, Vern Gambetta and John Kiely.

Reading or listening to accomplished coaches, like these, is still a very good way to create food for thought. You don’t have to copy what they say or did, you don’t necessarily have to agree with what they did or do (better make sure your criticism is justified or based on facts , knowledge or experiences) 

In an earlier post I wrote about if and how coaches still learn. Many young coaches think they can learn from YouTube or the Internet, reading articles (from a limited amount of journals). For many, there is hardly time to read books anymore, or better, they don’t take the time. Yes, course and presentations can be good sources of information as well. But in my opinion having a good mentor is by far the best way to become a better coach. For several reasons:

1. a good mentor has read all the books and articles and probably more than you ever will and he/she can make a deliberate pre-selection what to read and what not. That saves lots of valuable time.

2.  a good mentor has experience, often decades long, which you cannot read in an article or book. He/she experienced in real life ideas and tools that worked and the ones that did not, keeping in mind the contextual and situational factors. What worked for his/her athletes might not necessarily work for your athletes, but a good mentor knows that and will tell you this. Experience might be the most valuable asset of a good mentor.

3. a good mentor will ask you challenging questions or otherwise confront you with challenges, so you are forced to think and often to think out of your own secure and cozy box.

4. a good mentor will act as a feedback system or a mirror, telling you how you did, where you went into the wrong directionand how you might be able to do even better

5. a good mentor should be an inspiration, who practices what he/she preaches, like a torchlight in the dark.

6. a good mentor should be able to leave room for error and stimulate you to develop your own ideas and concepts and challenge you to become a better coach than he/she himself/herself is and make himself/herself redundant in the end. The student will become the teacher and the teacher will again become a student.

7. a good mentor therefore should not produce “clones” or “lapdogs” who blindly copy and uncritically follow everything he/she says or does. Everybody is different and circumstances change over time. What was useful ten years ago might be useless in ten years from now. New technologies and new information might become game-changers. But a good mentor also keeps up with the latest developments in his/her field and hopefully outside that field as well.

In other words: try to get a mentor!

And of course: I almost forgot…

Our yearly “Helping The Best To Get Better”- Seminar will take place on Saturday, November 23, 2019, in Hilversum, in the Netherlands again.

It’s going to be a great seminar, take the look at the presenters and the topics:

1. Hakan Andersson: Technique and Physique for Speed, Three Decades of Coaching Experience. Hakan, a long term colleague and friend, is one of the most innovative sprint coaches in the world and has lots of new ideas to share with you. He has been coaching most of the Swedish sprinters and recordholders. He is also working in other sports: swimming, boxing, ice hockey, soccer, and speed skating. Currently he is employed by the High Performance Center in Vaxjo.

2. Jerome Simian, Fundamental physical preparation for the athlete : a systemic approach. Jerome is a Physical Preparation Specialist from Lyon, France,, who has coached athletes to medals internationally in seven different sports.

In track and field, he supported Kevin Mayer to a world record in the decathlon, as well as others who won medals at the Olympics, Paralympics, and World Championships in the throws, sprints and jumps.

He also trained successful athletes for sports as diverse as rugby, figure skating, skeleton, tennis, judo, golf, basketball, soccer and bobsled.

3. Bill Laich: Mental Aspects of the Preparation for Major Competitions. Scientific view.  An important topic, but  seldom talked about and this presentation is far beyond the usual scope. Bill is a well-known face at our seminars who hardly need another introduction, world-class teacher and educator, an accomplished athlete himself, and top of the bill in sport sciences.

4. Henk Kraaijenhof: Mental Aspects of the Preparation for Major Competitions. Experiences, examples and practical implications.

Interested? The seminar is by invitation only, so send a mail to info@vortx.nl for an invitation.

About Henk Kraaijenhof

My name is Henk Kraaijenhof and I started this blog as a random collection of concepts, ideas, stories and events that are important or interesting to me in my work as an international performance consultant in a wide range of fields, and sometimes outside of my work. I will try to post a new entry every 3-4 days. Feel free to comment if you like.
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