Coaching, Instructing, Teaching… Wait, What? Teaching is a two way street.

Of all the crazy things that make me think of how to make drivers go faster, I was watching a DVR recording of this week’s Dancing with the Stars on ABC tonight with my wife.  During one of the “package videos” I saw something that reminded me of the whole issue of instructing VS Coaching, and the relationship of teacher to student, and how the performance of the teacher can impact the student, as well as how the student can bring out better performance in the teacher.  Wait, What?  That is a mouthful, and a bit hard to follow.  Work with me here.

When I am working with a driver at the race track I critique myself based on my ability to help the driver achieve a new level of performance.  Please note, this is not solely based on lap time.  Driving a car well has many parts, the end result of which is a fast lap time.  If I become focused on my own achievements then I lose focus on the real work, which is teaching a skill, or helping bring out what is already there.  In addition if the driver becomes focused solely on the lap time, which is the achievement, and not on the process, inevitably the lap times will not improve, because the process does not improve, and so the driving does not improve.  The same thing is true if the driver feels that he or she is somehow disappointing me.  They try harder to impress me, which causes them to fail at impressing me, as well as fail to improve.   How I connect with the driver and how the driver connects with me is sometimes more important than my teaching method or my own skill set.

The package video on ABC’s DWTS featured Professional Dancer Maksim Chmerkovskiy, himself a multi-time professional Dance Champion and “Star” Meryl Davis, Gold Medal Winner and World Champion Ice Dancer with partner Charlie White who is also a “Star” on the show.

The video is here if you want to watch it.

In the early part of the video, training for this week’s dance is not going well, and Meryle states she is disappointed in getting all 9’s, which is interesting considering the article I wrote just ten days ago titled “Do you want to be a better driver? No, you want to be the “best”! 8 Things to help you achieve greatness in a race car.”  Meryl, clearly is a person who pushes herself to be the best at whatever she is doing.

The interesting part of the video for this article starts at 1:10 where Maks and Meryl are talking through a lot of things. One of those things is fear.  Maks admits to being “terrified” and Meryl begins to talk him through it.  As a multiple world champion and multiple Olympic medalist I am sure she has faced her fear more than once, and worked through all sorts of mental stress in order to achieve all the she has achieved.  You can see in the video that this has an effect on Maks.  Later Maks talks about possibly winning the Mirror Ball trophy, an achievement that has eluded him in 13 seasons on DWTS.  The video ends with the two of them “pep talking each other”.   This sub 3 minute package video provides a glimpse into the life of these two extraordinary athletes and what it takes to achieve greatness.  The two of them, working together, student and teacher are able to achieve more than either of them alone.  Meryl must know this all too well.  In her career as a pairs ice dancer she has both a partner, and a coach, and her coach also coaches a rival pairs team.

After they work through things during the week they give what is arguably the best performance of the night:

As it is with DWTS, so it is with instructing/teaching/coaching a driver.  This is true for any level of driver, from beginner to professional racer.  If you find a mentor you can work with, that relationship will bring sucess to both of you.

-Drew Wikstrom

Tachterion Driver Development

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