Using a sailing coach to get better does not have to be expensive. Coaching is an investment that will pay dividends whether it be to work on a particular aspect of your sailing or to prepare for a club, national or world championship regatta.
There are a number of steps that you should take to gain the greatest benefit for the time and money you will invest:
- Find the right coach: you need a coach who will be an expert in the areas that you are weak in and not someone who gives you the answers but someone who guides you in the process of improvement and who can help you find the answers from within yourself. Be open to change, sometimes you need a coach who’s personality is different to yours but the biggest changes come about from coaches who can spot your weaknesses.
- Questions: Don’t arrive at a training session with a blank sheet of paper hoping to be lectured to and the off chance that the coach may touch on something that you believe need improvement. Every sailor will achieve more from the session if the coach can address what the individual or team is interested in.
- Come to the training session ready to learn: Many sailors come to training and treat it as a necessary chore, come with an open mind and be ready to learn something new. You need to keep your emotions under control, you are not there to show the coach how much you know, you are there to add every bit of knowledge you can.
- Know all roles on your boat: You are being coached to improve your sailing in your chosen position but knowing what is expected of your teammates will help you to work more efficiently together. You should pay attention when the coach is talking about a manoeuvre that doesn’t involve you.
- Debrief: Have a get together with your teammates after the coaching session to talk over what you have each learnt and then formulate a plan to implement and practice to make those new techniques second nature.
- Make notes: One of the best ways to guarantee that new ideas are remembered is to write them down. Have a notebook and put down what you have learnt in your own words. Don’t be afraid to make sketches if that helps you to remember better.
- Video and voice recording: Get your on-water sessions videoed, even use your mobile phone to record as much of the session as possible. When you are having the debrief with the coach and then the debrief with the crew, at least record the sound and then rewatch or relisten at a later date. You will be amazed at what extra benefit you will gain by hearing and seeing it all again.
- Further ways of learning to get better: Watch videos of sailing events with your team and critique them. Sail with your fellow competitors from time to time and see how they sail and manage their boats. Attend seminars run by clubs, sailmakers and other class associations. Attend training clinics with other sailors not necessarily run by your chosen class, there is plenty to be learned from those sailing in different boats than your own.