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Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Coaching vs. Fighting

Talking with my father over the weekend, and I remembered this.

As a kid, I took archery lessons with a man named John DiMura. Everyone called him "Little John". At the time, I didn't appreciate the resource that I had, or put nearly as much time in as perhaps I could have. John was an amazing coach; without ever having to put his hand on me or my bow, he could guide me to change my targeting so that I would hit pretty close to the mark on a consistent basis. His instruction made a huge difference in my technique. I imagine if I had stuck with it, I'd have been pretty good. The folly's of youth.

What's always stuck with me about John is this.

John didn't do any physical corrections when he taught because John was a quadriplegic.

Years before I met him, some fool ignored basic archery safety and shot John in the back while he was retrieving arrows from a target. When I met him, he had the use of a couple of fingers, and his head, and that was about it. And while he had created some interesting rigs so that he could still shoot a bow, his days of professional competition were behind him.

None of which stopped him from being an excellent coach.

John was my first example of this basic truth, and one of the strongest examples I've ever found.

Coaching and fighting are not the same skill. While some can blend both, I've rarely met anyone who was equally good at one or the other. Something to think about next time you go looking for someone to train with.

John apparently passed away last year; for some reason, I thought it had been longer ago. I'm sorry I didn't know him better, but I'm glad for the time I did have with him.

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