Australian Olympian and seasoned triathlon and athletics coach Tony Benson underscored the pivotal role coaches play in unlocking an athlete's full potential during a two-day Tri Right Mindanao coaching seminar at the Lyceum of the Philippines University (LPU)-Davao over the weekend.
"Wasting an athlete's potential is a coach's biggest sin," Benson, a level 3 triathlon coach and level 5 track and field coach, told nearly 20 participants from across Mindanao.
With a wealth of experience, including being the former national track and field coach of the Philippines during the Gintong Alay program's glory years Prado, highlighted coaching as a serious profession, emphasizing the need for full-time commitment, continuous assessment, and accountability.
The Gintong Alay program produced track and field icons, the likes of the late Lydia De Vega, Elma Muros, and Isidro del Prado.
He outlined the fundamentals of successful coaching, encompassing personal experience (as a competitor whether as an elite athlete, for the club, or fun); experimentation (one's self); personal contact (with elite athletes, coaches, officials, and meet organizers); education (earning qualifications, attending courses, seminars, and clinics); personal library (auto/biographies, research papers, magazines, journals, IAAF handbook, audiovisuals); mentoring (seeking assistance from elite coaches and athletes and consulting with sports science, sports medicine, and retired experts with each team having a sports physiotherapist), effective communication, and family support.
"Each athlete has only one career. It must not be unfulfilled because the coach is a novice," Benson said. "Equally the coach may be approached by an athlete with Olympic potential early in their career. Therefore, coaching is not a hobby, and a coach cannot `learn on the job'."
Benson also said, "Family is a very time-consuming endeavor. Family support is crucial and family that is genuinely interested in the coach and his/her athlete is the biggest asset of all."
He added that coaches ideally ensure the family benefits from his/her coaching in many forms such as travel, finances, friendship, role models for kids, and life experiences, among others.
The two-day event, organized by Stax Savellano, vice president for Mindanao of the Triathlon Association of the Philippines, had participants from Davao City, Digos City, Dipolog City, Tagum City, Cagayan de Oro City, Butuan City, Pagadian City, Camiguin, and Surigao).
Noli Ayo, LPU Davao assistant to the President for sports and development and PSC coordinator for Mindanao, extended a warm welcome to the participants, while Savellano shared the program overview at the start of the seminar on Saturday, January 6.
It continued on Sunday, January 7, with Benson delving into practical aspects of coaching, enhancing the knowledge and skills of coaches.
Savellano mentioned that participants, consisting of five world triathlon-certified coaches and the remaining newcomers, expressed gratitude for the invaluable mentorship provided by a world-class coach. They described the experience as "unforgettable."
He said the coaching seminar was the first step of Triathlon Mindanao: Developing Grassroots and High-Performance Program. MLSA