Updated: Mar 1
Here are some names to conjure with:
Peter Carter and Paul Annacone
You may or may not recognise any of them but even if sport is not your thing, and I can’t say it’s mine really, you are likely to recognise some of the names they are associated with:
Tennis aces Roger Federer and Pete Sampras
Cricketer Sachin Tendulkar
Olympic rowers Steve Redgrave and Matthew Pinsent
Rugby Union’s Jonny Wilkinson
Carter is credited with spotting Federer’s talent when he was only nine years old and Annacone went on to coach Federer and Sampras.
Acherekar coached Tendulkar, arguably one of the greatest batsmen of all time.
Gröbler is a legend, largely staying out of the spotlight, yet instrumental in British rowing gold medal successes in every Olympics between 1992 and 2016.
Aldred was Jonny Wilkinson’s kicking coach leading up to England’s Rugby Union World Cup success in 2003.
We can discuss some other time whether as coaches in a more general setting, we can learn from coaches in sport; that’s not my point, but there are at least three important lessons here.
Firstly, when we enter into a coaching relationship we have no real idea where it might lead the person we are coaching, or us for that matter. We invest our time, our energy, our emotions, ourselves, but did Gröbler know what Redgrave and Pinsent were capable of at the outset? Did Carter really know how good Federer was going to be? Did Aldred know how important Jonny Wilkinson’s kicking would be in the World Cup? As the coaching relationship develops we may see some potential in the other, but we need to remember that it is their journey, not ours.
Secondly, we may never coach a sporting superstar or an icon of the business world but as a coach, playing a part in another’s growth and success is a real privilege and honour in itself, one not to be taken lightly, and one where we have no right, nor should we expect, a share of the limelight.
And finally, we have to accept that sometimes we may not see the impact of our work or the results of our involvement with another. There is a poignancy to the Carter/Federer relationship: Peter Carter died tragically in a car crash in 2002. Federer’s first grand slam success, at Wimbledon as it happens, was in 2003, but all these years later when Federer talks about Carter in interviews, you can tell that Carter’s influence lives on. Federer has said, “Peter was an incredibly inspirational and important person in my life. He taught me respect for each person. I can never thank him enough.”
What other motivation do you need to be involved in coaching?