Mentoring in sport is becoming increasingly important and I hope to highlight the reasons for this here and explain the differences between coaching and mentoring.
My mentoring experience occurred without any formal program having been set. Jim Selby, the coach who was most influential in my International playing career, was also my mentor.
As a coach, Jim was an employee of the association responsible for football operations in this country. He was impartial, with his major focus being performance and teamwork; developing specific skills for the tasks and challenges at hand and meeting ‘work’ expectations.
As a mentor, Jim took a deep, personal interest in me, and my long-term development. I would describe my mentoring experience as having a caring friend; a sounding board where advice was freely offered, knowledge and experience was shared and I was encouraged and guided to find a successful pathway.
The profound effect of good mentoring can be found in the following example. Prior to the inaugural Women’s Pilot World Cup I was going through a debilitating form slump. Many well-intentioned coaches tried to ‘correct’ this slump based on methods founded in textbooks; and those from folklore. One attempt involved yelling at me to try to make me see ‘sense’. Jim however, spoke to me as a friend and offered a different perspective, which in turn empowered me to see beyond my own doubts.
Jim helped me regain my confidence, not through clinical coaching based articles but through a sensitivity borne of a successful mentoring relationship.
Central Coast Sports College