Honesly, I'm not quite sure if most people understand what "coach" is. Sure, undoubtedly, Lydiard will get my vote; not because of his contribution to training which, I'm sure most of us agree upon, really goes on and on through different coaches in the different parts of the world simply because it is probably most sound physiologically and mechanically. The argument of Coe vs. Lydiard surprisingly still goes on everywhere; but the fact remains; you need high oxygen uptake level in order to succeed in middle distance and distance running. Whether you run 40 miles a week or 140 miles a week, one way or the other, you've got to get it up high. If you already have it high; well, lucky for you. You may not have to struggle as much as most others. You still need to work on your tolerance against oxygen debt and, for that, you'd need to do fair amount of fast running as well--which, against many people's belief, Lydiard system does have plenty of. You can twist things around, do something else before others or whatever; but the bottom line is; you need to balance it and develop each and every necessary elements as much as possible according to your own strengths and weaknesses if you want to succeed. So that's the program side of Arthur Lydiard.
Barry Magee said that Arthur was a great motivator; a great psychologist. Anybody who actually met him and talked with him knows what I mean. He was, in a way, lucky that he had so much more advanced system back in those days; but even without that, he probably would have done fairly well as a coach (maybe not 6 Olympic medals but...who knows?). It's his drive and committment to "coaching" you that made his runners to do what they did. Planned, or conincident, there are so many occasions he just seems to have known the right things to say at the right time. That is the kind of characteristis other coaches such as Percy Cerutty, Bill Bowerman, Pat Clohessy (whose name wasn't on the list), Kiyoshi Nakamura (whose name also wasn't on the list), Bill Squires (whose name also wasn't on the list) or Frantz Stampfl possessed. Without that kind of personality, it is very difficult for anybody to actually "coac" someone, "drive" someone to do such "uncommon" things. Sure, Lydiard may have had much more physiologically advanced training system which he pretty much more orless stumbled upon. But if he didn't have a kind of personallity that he did have, those young kids would have not had such strong faith in him; to slog hundreds of miles in the winter, rain in New Zealand winter, when everybody else is shouting at them, out of their cars, that "that lunatic's gonna burn you out!"
Who's the best coach in the world right now? I'd say coach Yasushi Sakaguchi. His team, Chugoku Electronics, just got 2 runners on the Japanese Olympic marathon team. It's not that easy to get on the Japanese marathon team as some of you might know. When the entire American runnng fans are overjoyed that Ryun Hall ran 2:08, his team, a single team, has five sub-2:10 runners with 3 of them had run 2:07. This is just ONE team! I'd put Yoshio Koide very close second--he would have been first a few years back. He coached Yuko Arimori, a double Olympic medalist (silver in 1992 and bronze i 1996), Hiromi Suzuki (world champ in 1997) and Naoko Takahashi, the 2000 Olympic marathon champion. I'd say this is as close to Lydiard's accoomplishment as can be--3 Olympic medals and the world title with 3 different individuals. And anybody who knows the background of Arimori and Takahashi should know that he actually "developed" these ladies--the argument Rich had on the meaning of "coaching". I have a lot of respect for Dr. Rosa and coach Canova. I really do. But if you call what they do successful coaching, you've got to include coach John Chaplin. If you don't know who he is; he's the coach at Washington State University who "coached" Henry Rono and several other Kenyan runners such as Samson Kimonbuwa and John Ngeno.
Coaching is very much different, as far as I'm concerned, from simple schedule writing. You give a part of your life to the athletes. Without that, no amount of physiological knowledge or college degree would do you any good. Som people believe that athletes choose to be good; coach's contribution is less than 10% or whatever. That's a total BS if you ask me. Anybody who reads any story of how Bud Winter put Lee Evans' mind at ease at Mexico City Olympics, how Dellinger tried to console Pre right after the terrorists attack at Munich, how Bowerman trick with your mind to get some points crossed, etc. Coaches' job is so much more than MOST people realize. It is quite interesting to me; in Japan, we consider coaches as investment--coaches being someone who "teaches how to fish" and continue to produce great athletes. They are treated well; financially as well as in the social status. In the US, or in most Western countries it seems, coaches are nothing more than volunteer. Some people call them "manager". In Japan, managers are more or less a caretaker. Coaches coach. Bill Squires created a marathon dynasty in the late 70s and early 80s. He coached 4 people go under 2:10. He tried to continue his program but no one helped him. What followed was a terrible marathon draught in the 90s. Of course, I'm spoiled. I was a corporate team coach in Japan. Over there, coach would be treated as a manager within the corporation and get paid accordingly. In the country where pro athletes get paid in millions surely don't understand the importance of coaches. Well, so much for my bitching...(pardon my Japanese!?)
Edited by Nobby, 16 March 2008 - 08:13 AM.