One thing to keep in mind when coaching elite athletes: The best want to get better. Rarely are they complacent or satisfied with where they are. This is a significant part of what makes them the best. They take pride in their craft.
There is a great article at Training Ground Guru about Rene Meulensteen’s coaching process with some of the best players in the world that illustrates this point. Meulensteen served as the “skill development coach” at Manchester United under Ferguson. He was hired to improve the skills of the first team which employed some of the best players in the game.
The article also points to some factors that separate the best coaches from one another.
Requires A Confident Coach
The article describes his confident approach to the task.
“The key to top players is that they recognise whether something is bullshit or quality to make them better,” the 53-year-old says at a café near his home in the Cheshire town of Wilmslow.
“I always said, ‘we’ve got something we can add to your game’. Add is very positive. Add means more, add means better. Not once did a player come to me and say ‘what a lot of bullshit that is’. And believe me, they would have, because they were top players.”
Coaching Elite Athletes: Each One is Different
The articles also shines a light on the different approaches required with different players.
Where Ronaldo was right place, right time, Diego Forlan was wrong place, wrong time,” Meulensteen says. “He was a great guy and a fantastic player, but because we had Ruud [van Nistelrooy] there, scoring every game, he could never get into the side in his best position.
Sir Alex Ferguson
Hiring a skills coach for your talented first team was an unusual approach, and one that only Ferguson employed.
“First-team technical skills development coach: a job I haven’t heard of before or since. It was born out of Sir Alex Ferguson’s belief that any player, no matter how old or how good, could still improve.”
It’s also entertaining to read how Ferguson prepared a team to play.
You can read the article here.
I’ve written about Sir Alex Ferguson before.