In yesterday’s Daily Telegraph, there was an interesting article on British cycling. This is one of the sports where we are likely to achieve success in the Olympics. The article talks about the outstanding cyclists many of whom have a chance of winning medals. They are clearly great performers but they are also strongly supported by a team of specialist coaches. It is these coaches who will help the performers peak when it matters at the Olympics.
It may be something of a stretch to compare these peak athletes and their coaches with the average professional pitch situation. However, there are some useful lessons to be drawn. I am not talking here about external consultants (although that can be a good idea!), but the way informed insiders can fulfil a coaching role.
There are two stages. When it comes to writing the proposal using a senior colleague as a sounding board can improve the sense of the presentation. For the pitch itself, someone acting as coach, an impartial observer, can be particularly important.
The temptation of any pitch is to pile stuff into the presentation when what matters is what the audience takes out. In rehearsal an objective coach can spot mistakes the team themselves will miss. The best practice guide, Rehearsal. The Discriminators, suggests what to look for.
One lesson I have learnt is that anyone acting as coach must first of all encourage and inspire before they start tearing the presentation apart. I was fortunate enough when an athlete to have an inspirational coach, Bill Marlow, who made me feel good as I clattered the hurdles, but he always helped me raise my game when it mattered. Today as a very indifferent tennis player, my coach, Preston Thompson keeps me encouraged despite my backhand.
Breaking news. In a few weeks, a specialist coach will be contributing to Pitch Coach. He will bring huge understanding from the receiving end of the pitch.