Coaches, like so much else, are wasted on the young. Learning a skill requires hours of repetition, endless drills; few things are more boring to a child, especially a child of our fidgety, distracted Digital Age.
No, coaches are for grown-ups, the older the better.
Here’s my advice: When your kids enter high school or college, and those weekend afternoons begin to yawn, get a coach. Bring someone into your life who, for starters, can reawaken in you the excitement of starting. You want an expert, a pro, to get you out of your stale, timeworn neural patterns and create fresh pathways in your brain not called upon by meetings and desktop monitors. That’s what learning an activity does, and studies have shown it can help fend off memory loss and worse. You want a coach to get you to embody life, before that body of yours gets the best of you.
It could be golf, or swimming, or rock climbing. But it has to start with a one-on-one relationship, an admired guide, and soon enough, hopefully, a trusted guru. The relationship between you and a coach is as important as your learning. And it’s a humbling thing later in life—at or around the top of your career arc—to have someone you look to for aid and approval, someone who will always be better than you at what you are trying to get better at. Having a coach doesn’t come cheap, but it won’t feel, in those hours of disciplined instruction, like a narcissistic indulgence.