The other day someone asked what me specialty was in coaching? It is not often I am at a loss for words, but I had to stop and think for a minute. I have no specialty; I specialize is in being a generalist. As a track & field coach my specialty was combined events – decathlon & heptathlon, in many ways that sums it up. Coaching all the events enabled me to make connections between seemingly unrelated concepts and technical elements so that if I chose one event to work on I had better understanding of that event. Early on that defined the direction of my coaching. I worked in professional baseball for eleven years, most everything I did there was not from baseball, the training concepts came from track & field, swimming, team handball and cricket. Using information and ideas from other sports enabled me to see baseball with different eyes. I had an advantage because I had little background in baseball so I went far afield to improve the movements. I looked at the pitcher as a javelin thrower in long pants and trained him accordingly.
Today I consult in many sports and coach day to day doing the physical preparation for beach volleyball. Some of the things I am doing with my beach volleyball players are things that I advise the sprint swimmer to do. Unrelated? Superficially yes, but on deeper examination there is much transfer. I am not a strength coach, that is way too limiting for me. I do coach people to get stronger though. How about a speed coach? Nope, too limiting again, you can’t get someone faster if they do not have strength and power. Don’t lock yourself into a narrow specialty, stay general, and learn from other sports and other disciplines. You will be a better coach for it and there is never a dull moment.