How can a coach -- no matter her or his level of experience -- improve?
There is no secret to improving; it takes focus, consistent effort and a willingness to grow. That said, there are four basic ways we as coaches can up our game.
Like the bases of a baseball diamond, you need to touch all four to really score.
Training. This one is often overlooked by seasoned coaches (who think they are beyond the need for training) and overemphasized by novice coaches (who rely almost exclusively on classrooms and books).
Being Coached. When you are coached, you see firsthand what works, what doesn't work and what it's like to be in the PBC seat. Being the client helps you develop a perspective that goes a really long way to helping you improve your own coaching.
Observed Coaching. This one goes two ways: observing and being observed. When you observe someone else being coached (live or a recording), you're able to notice things that go unnoticed when you are the coach or the PBC; this is because the game just moves slower when you're observing it but not playing it. And when someone observes you and offers feedback, they are able to help you see what you couldn't see while playing the game.
Real Coaching. The more you coach, the better you get. There is absolutely no substitute for getting experience as a coach with a real PBC. When you coach regularly (at least once per week), you improve at a much higher pace than when you coach sporadically. Coaching allows you to leverage all you've learned through training, being coached, and the observed coaching and sets you up to make the most of those developmental bases going forward.
Wherever you are rookie coach or a seasoned veteran, let me encourage you to cover all four of these bases. Don't get stuck on base by overemphasizing one or avoiding another.