Posts Tagged ‘coaching’

Choosing The Right Coach

Friday, May 29th, 2015



Submitted by Joni Gerard
Concepts Written by Steven Coyle from The Little Book of Talents

TIP #12

Great teachers, coaches, and mentors, like any rare species, can be identified by a few characteristic traits. The following rules are designed to help you sort through the candidates and make the best choice for yourself.

1) Avoid Someone Who Reminds You of a Courteous Waiter
This species of teacher/coach/mentor is increasingly abundant in our world: one who focuses his efforts on keeping you comfortable and happy, on making things go smoothly, with a minimum of effort. This is the kind of person who covers a lot of material in a short time, smiles a lot, and says things like, “Don’t worry, no problem, we can take care of that later.” This is a good person to have as your waiter in a restaurant, but a terrible person to have as your teacher, coach, or mentor.

2) Seek Someone Who Scares You a Little
In contrast to encounters with courteous waiters, encounters with great teachers/coaches/mentors tend to be filled with unfamiliar emotion: feelings of respect, admiration, and, often, a shiver of fear. This is a good sign. Look for someone who:
Watches you closely: He is interested in figuring you out—what you want, where you’re coming from, what motivates you.
Is action-oriented: She often won’t want to spend a lot of time chatting—instead, she’ll want to jump into a few activities immediately, so she
can get a feel for you and vice versa.
Is honest, sometimes unnervingly so: He will tell you the truth about your performance in clear language. This stings at first. But you’ll come to see that it’s not personal—it’s the information you can use to get better.
It’s worth noting that the word “coach” originally came from kocsi, the Hungarian word for “carriage.” You’re not looking for a buddy or a parent figure. You’re looking for someone solid, someone you trust, someone with whom you take a journey.

3) Seek Someone Who Gives Short, Clear Directions
Most great teachers/coaches/mentors do not give long-winded speeches. They do not give sermons or long lectures. Instead, they give short, unmistakably clear directions; they guide you to a target.
John Wooden, the UCLA basketball coach who is widely considered one of the greatest teachers of all time, was once the subject of a yearlong study that captured everything he said to his team. Wooden didn’t give long speeches; in fact, his average utterance lasted only four seconds. This underlines a large truth: Teaching is not an eloquence contest; it is about creating a connection and delivering useful information.

4) Seek Someone Who Loves Teaching Fundamentals
Great teachers will often spend entire practice sessions on one seemingly small fundamental—for example, the way you grip a golf club, or the way you pluck a single note on a guitar. This might seem strange, but it reflects their understanding of a vital reality: These fundamentals are the core of your skills (see Tip #10). The more advanced you are, the more crucial they become.

5) Other Things Being Equal, Pick the Older Person
Teaching is like any other talent: It takes time to grow. This is why so many hotbeds are led by people in their sixties and seventies. Great teachers are first and foremost learners, who improve their skills with each passing year. That’s not to say there aren’t any good teachers under thirty—there are. Nor is it to say that every coach with gray hair is a genius—they’re not. But other things being equal, go with someone older.


by Joni Gerard




Getting to Know Ben Groen

Wednesday, November 20th, 2013

The name, Ben Groen, is starting to get pretty big around the World Barefoot Center. You see his name on all of our video’s, You see him in the boat, coaching and instructing skiers of all ages and abilities. You see him on the phone taking care of customers and all over the school taking care of business.

Ben is 22 years old and he is from New Zealand. The Groen name is famous in the barefooting circles, as his Dad Rob and uncle Fred have been involved in the sport for over 30 years and are still deeply involved to this day.  Ben first came to the school when he was 18 for what was suppose to be a one week stay, which ended up being being a six week stay. In those first six weeks with us at the World Barefoot Center his trick scores went from the mid 2000’s to around 5000 points.  We were so impressed with him as a young man that we decided to sponsor him. He came back to the school a few months later but this time he stayed for three months. To make a long story short, we all continued to be so impressed with this young man that we started working on making him a full time fixture at the school.  We started working on getting him a three-year sports visa, with the support of his parents Rob and Wendy Groen. And as you now see, the rest is history.

On a personal level, I love this kid and am very proud to be like a second father to him with the support of his wonderful parents.

On the water, he has a great attitude and works as hard anyone else who I have ever coached. He loves the sport, and when he is not on the water, you will see him watching his videos and doing his dry land practice. He is a true student of the sport and it has all paid off as he is one of only a handful of skiers who has ever tricked over 10500 points in the history of the sport.  In the last two years, he has been bouncing between being ranked the 3rd and 4th best overall skier in the world–with only the two greatest skiers ever, David Small and Keith St. Onge, being ahead of him.

In the boat, he has also become one of the most respected coaches and instructors in the sport. The feedback from all of our students at the ski school from first timers to top competitors is just amazing–everyone just loves skiing with Ben and they all learn so much from him. He has truly become one of the worlds best instructors.

Ben is a very unique and gifted person, big hearted, and very friendly.  He has some of the best people skills that I have ever seen. He is very unselfish and always goes out of his way to take care of people and our furry family members around the school. (Yes, he is a big animal lover.)

He is so mature for his age that I always tell people that he is 22 going on 40. Off the water he is involved in every aspect of the business and I would trust this kid with anything. A hard worker and a quick learner and with people skills second to none and then throw in loyalty and a true love for what he does you then have someone who is worth a ton to the business, a person that can not be replaced with ease. So we at the world barefoot center realizing this have made Ben a partner in the business and Ben has now applied for a green card to be a long term part of this great business that we are building.
So there you have it.

Ben Groen is from a great family with great parents
Is one of the top skiers and instructors in the world
Is one of the friendliest and caring persons that you’ll ever meet
And at 22 is also a part owner of the largest barefoot water sking schools in the world
We are so lucky to have him and I am so proud to be coaching and to be involved in the life of one of the finest young men that you’ll ever meet.
Swampy Bouchard

Evert Aartsen, Jr.: A Month of Barefoot Training at the WBC

Tuesday, May 7th, 2013

I will be spending the whole month of May at the World Barefoot Center. I will be cleaning up my turns during this month and hopefully starting to work on some more multiple turns, one foot turns, and toe turns. I hope to get my trick score up a lot this season, and of course slalom and jump too.  Tricks is my weakest event of the three, so I will be working most of my time here on tricks.

I will be spending two times a day in the garage doing dry land practicing on turns to build that muscle memory.  I also plan to spend time in the boat when Swampy is coaching Keith St. Onge, David Small, and Ben Groen–this helps a lot for my skiing, just to listen what Swampy has to tell them, that makes me think about that too.

I want to learn a lot during this month so I can become a better skier. Swampy, KSO, Dave, and Ben are just the right people to learn from!

Evert Aartsen Jr.

Evert Aarsten Jr.: My First Tournament

David Small: A Coach’s Dream

Friday, February 1st, 2013

My history of coaching barefoot water skiing goes back over 26 years with Keith St. Onge and most people out there in the barefooting world know our story.  If you’re not caught up to my relationship with KSO then head over to Amazon or the WBC Pro Shop to buy his new book, Gliding Soles, Lessons from a Life on Water.  for a great read and you’ll learn all about KSO. This write up is about the other half of this amazing duo: David Small, also known as Smallz.

As a coach you are always looking for those dream Athletes, the ones that have all the ingredients to bring it all the way plus more. And trust me they are hard to find. So what are the ingredients that I look for when I am looking for the next great one, here is my list:

1 – Heart

You have to have the heart and passion to be great at anything. If you don’t have it then you will most likely fail at being great.

2 – Strong Mind and Body

You will have to have a strong mind that is not afraid to fail and that is willing to overcome all challenges, that can overcome fear and pain and be willing to change what needs to be changed. You will need to have a strong body that has a great power to weight ratio that can stay injury free and that can deal with the pain and abuse that your body will be given.

3 – Coachability

If you are a know it all and already have all the answers then there is no need to apply. You will have to be coachable with an open mind, willing to change and to adapt.

These things alone will bring you a long ways and can make up for any lack of talent that you may have. If you can fullfill all of the above then you will probably be successful and your talent level from this point will then determine exactly how great you’ll become.

David Small – The Man who never stops earning my respect

Before the New Zealand World Championships and before I really knew Small’z, I was watching his tapes over and over. I wanted to identify his weakneses and strengths, as I was setting up trick runs for KSO.  I wanted to figure  out how many points that it would require to win.

By the time we joined forces to create the World Barefoot Center, I already had a good idea of what needed to change in his sking to bring him up to the next level. At that time Small’z was instructing in Clermont while KSO and I were at the central location in Winter Haven, so one day, I took a ride up to Clermont to see Small’z and to watch him ski. I wanted to either confirm or debunk what I already knew; and after watching him ski, the weaknesses were confirmed in my mind. We  were still in the “feeling out” process of our relationship and I was curious to see how he was going to react to my brutal honesty towards his skiing.  Later that evening, Smallz, Ben Groen, and I were at the Tiki Bar having dinner and a beer, and I finally brought up the subject of his skiing. I wanted to share what needed to be changed. I still remember him looking me right in the eyes and he said, “Go ahead, Big Guy, bring it on.”

I proceeded to bring up the things I felt that he had to work on and change to be a stronger and more consistant skier; mostly working on staying commited to his pivot foot and working on his handle movement. He looked at me and said “I’ll work on them and change it all in a week.” I laughed and told him that it would take a little more than just a week.

The following week, Small’z came down to the school in Winter Haven and as he was walking through the door he asked me if I had a couple of minutes. He gave me a video to watch and asked me what I thought. He had listened to everything that I told him and in one week, he changed everything that I had asked him to work on. It was incredible.

Breaking down the Champion of Champions

1 – Heart/Mind

David Small’s attitude is Awesome. I have never seen a challenge that he did not welcome or wasn’t ready to overcome. I remember one day last year, when we were out training one-foot multiples and he took a bad fall. Small’z is one who does not show weakness or pain. When I idled up to him, I could see that he was in pain–he had a hard time climbing up on the back platform and he was holding his rib.

“Get in the boat, let’s wrap it up,” I said.  Instead, he jumped back in the water and he went back out there to do the exact same trick that just kicked his butt.

Small’z had a broken rib.  When I told him that we would have to take a break to let it  heal, he shrugged and said, “There’s nothing that you can do for a broken rib, so I’ll just have to suck it up and ski through the pain.” He was not about to stop his training.  I watched him go out there day after day in pain, without ever using it as an excuse or complaining about it.  He was out there still doing everything that we normally do on the water. The Man was incredible !!

2 – Body

The Man is a machine, pound for pound he has incredible body strength. When Small’z is not on the water training, he is in the gym working out with his buddy Ben Groen. Ben who is also one strong young man tells me that Small’z is just incredible when it comes to the work outs they do and how much he pushes both himself and anyone else that works out with them. I also get to see his strength when I have him on the water. He amazes me each time I am in the boat with him not only because of his strength but also with how hard that I am able to push him. He takes tremendous pride in over coming challenges that I set for him and he thrives off of them.

3. Coachability

He is a world champion and he is a joy to coach, accepting all challenges that I can throw at him, willing to change whatever I am asking him to change, willing to try new things, enjoys being pushed, and never has any excuses. He wants to continue to push the boundaries and he believes that he can always do better.

To sum it up:

Small’z loves everything about Barefooting! He loves the Business, the Instructing and the training. He loves watching video and talking barefooting. His heart and passion is never an issue, it’s what he lives for.

The more time that I get to spend with Small’z, the more that I respect and admire him. I try to be tough on him and it just seems to motivate him. All the things that it requres to be great he excels at. That is why he is the ultimate athlete: a Champion.

For anyone out there who wants to be an elite athlete no matter what the sport, this is what it takes. David Small and Keith St. Onge are prime examples of two great athletes who are willing to do what it takes to be the best ever!

By: Swampy Bouchard

All “Betts” are on!

Monday, June 27th, 2011

Lauren and I arrive at the Anytime Fitness in Angola, IN to meet the owner, Mike Betts.  Mike and his wife Natalie sponsored our RV wrap with an Anytime Fitness logo so it was best to leave the motor home as a billboard since we get so much attention from it.  Just pulling into the parking got people’s attention!  We left there and stayed at the lake house during the three-day clinic.

We caught up with the Betts that evening and shared stories of being on the road for one month thus far.   We continue our conversations over diner at Timbuktoos, that is a local favorite.  They have an amazing and unique menu!

Lauren and I had just caught an REO Speedwagon concert a few days before.  Mike told us he sat next to the lead singer (Kevin Cronin) on the plane before and like always we say, “What a small world.”  Mike is originally from Australia and has a few Anytime Fitness gyms there as well.

The next day we finished early so Lauren and I played on Mike’s stand up Jet ski.  This is the only Jet ski I actually have a tolerance for.  I like the challenge compared to the sit down jet ski, which involves no effort to ride and provides no exercise whatsoever.  After Lauren and I had our competitions on who could turn to the left and right the fastest we parked it.  It was a toss up on who was champion.

Mike had his buddy Greg coming over the next morning with another local footer, Jeff.  We decided to start skiing at 6:30am to beat all the Wally’s out on the lake since it was Sat.  Mike started the crew off and he looked great.  I taught him the lazy boy position a few years back at the ski school and he was comfortable doing that.  The “Lazy Boy” is similar to reclining a Lazy Boy recliner while riding the butt.  The position is riding on the tailbone with the handle pulled in.  Knees and feet are squeezed together while knees are slightly bent.  Just think of the sitting V position in P90X and that is the “Lazy Boy.”  This position will help you do long butt slides at the end of your runs or get you in control before standing up.

After Mike’s feet got a little sore we moved onto backwards deep water starts on shoe skis.  He perfected that last year on shoe skis and was back for more.  He took a backwards fall last year that slightly injured his back so getting up wasn’t the problem but skiing away from the starts challenged him mentally.

Mike Betts Frontwards Barefooting

This was Greg’s first time learning a deep-water start since his early days of standing up off a kneeboard.  I went over the basics with him on dry land first and he adapted quite easily!  He was stoked to be standing without the aid of a kneeboard and had this smile that lasted all day.  I taught him the lazy boy as well and that kept him in control before standing, which I recommend.

Greg Smiling Ear to Ear!

Greg’s wife Elena came out for a set.  A few years ago Elena had tired barefoot waterskiing and had a bad fall the first time, like many this shyed her away from the sport until now.  First try and look at her go!

Elena Female Footer! Yay!

Greg and Elena brought there very own little cheerleader! Rosie will be getting her feet wet soon!

Soon to be Barefooter

Jeff was the guy that was self-taught and I could tell.  Straight legged and rough on the starts but after a few pointers and tricks of the trade I could tell I made his life a little easier and more enjoyable! Jeff got up on his second attempt backwards on his feet!  He never thought he would ever go backwards but with a little push from me and the aid of thewaterproof  HeadZone helmet he learned it quickly!

Barefooting on the Boom

I ran into an old time friend and student that morning named Randy Strebig.  He joined in the clinic on a last minute invite and since the wind had started to blow quite hard he invited us all out to a private lake in the area.  Randy is a wild man that likes to live on the edge and after he let me look him over he wanted to do surface turns.  I corrected his position and he began to turn easily.  Towards the end he took a few falls and I explained to him that his head and shoulders were turning before his hips and feet.  Everything must turn as one unit.  I had heard Randy competes in ballroom dancing and he brought up a good point just as I was going to make fun of him.  He said they are taught to turn their head last, called spotting.  They turn their head last so they can focus on one point to prevent dizziness as well as stopping the twisting motion.  So, he tried to keep looking backwards when he did his back to front and it helped out tremendously!

Barefoot Clinic

Greg and Mike took one more set a piece and had fun on the private lake.  It’s always nice not having to worry about other boats or competing for calm shorelines.

Natalie barefoot water skied in the clinic last year but just got eye surgery and could not play.  We hope to meet up with her later this summer so we can get her on her feet!

Lauren and I were able to get a few runs in as well.  I just did a little showing off but Lauren nailed another toe up start on the ten foot extension so she was happy!

It was a fabulous three day clinic, great skiers and great fun! Thank you to all who participated.

By: Keith St.Onge