The Most Effective Coaching Styles for Distance Runners

How to most effectively coach your athletes is an ever developing challenge. Each athlete is unique and requires a slightly different coaching style. In a team environment, it is tough to play one role with one athlete and another role with the other.

It is important to maintain a consistent approach to how you coach your team as a whole, but then also how you relate to your athletes on an individual basis as well.

Several factors influence the coaching style you should adopt for your team and your athletes. The main consideration at the high school age is their lack of athletic and personal maturity.

Developing Runner Maturity and Discipline

At the high school age, runners are not necessarily seasoned, or mature in the sport of running. Therefore they require quite a bit of direction and structure to their training, as they will not necessarily know how best to respond to certain aspects of training on their own.

Also, many high school aged athletes need a lot of emotional support as they have not developed a resistance to failure, or to not achieving the immediate success they expect.

The teenage years can be emotionally draining outside of sport, so it is important to recognize athlete’s requirements in terms of emotional support.

Developing good training habits early on in your runner’s careers will pay dividends as they move through high school, and become leaders within your program.

Aligning Coaching Style with Athlete Temperament

It is imperative that as coach you align your own preferences and natural style with that of your athletes. Unlike professional athletes, high school runners do not often have the opportunity to select their coach based on their personality alignment.

Therefore, as a coach of high school runners you need to be prepared to be a bit fluid and flexible with your own style, and be perceptive enough to pick up on subtle personality traits that may indicate an athlete is a better match with one style of coaching over another.

Remain true to your natural coaching style

On the next page in this post, we will discuss the 3 most common coaching styles and their respective strengths and athlete temperament alignment. The important thing to keep in mind as we walk through each of the three, and as you begin to consider ways of adjusting your own methods, is at all times to remain true to your own personality and your own natural coaching style.

Trying to be one type of coach over another, especially if it’s outside your nature will be exhausting. You should focus on being the best version of who you are already as a coach, not some manufactured self. And with that, let’s move on and see what style of coach you identify most with…

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