Monday, April 30, 2012

Tough One

This is for the coaches out there. If you are a swimmer it may give you insight into our profession and help you understand the coach with whom you work.

We find the biggest dilemma in our profession is how to reconcile the fact that many times as coaches we "want" it more than our athletes seem to "want" it. Most coaches spend a fair amount of their own personal time simply thinking about ways to get more from a training session, more from an athlete. Many of us have the luxury of a certain amount of time to devote to this "practice" of personal brainstorming. If we are lucky we can sometimes do it with a staff member or a colleague. In my own case I spend an hour or so a day walking for fitness, plus a bunch of time driving around doing different things. Nearly all of that time is spent thinking about swimming - training, racing, dry land, mental prep, pool time, scheduling, arranging groups, fund raising - the list is endless. However, the vast majority of time is spent on figuring out how to enlist more passion from our swimmers.

Many coaches can identify with this. The question that comes to the forefront, at least in our minds is this: how do we/you handle it when the athlete(s) doesn't match our own personal level of commitment? We think it is really important to find that sweet spot, the balance between conveying our personal passion while not getting overly disappointed when our athlete(s) doesn't buy in at the same level.

It is tempting to shrug our shoulders and simply say, "We cannot do it for you"...and yet if we take our foot off the pedal too much, the swimmer senses this immediately and they suffer from being led by someone who doesn't have the same level of enthusiasm for them that might previously have been exhibited.

The other challenge is that you may need to say the same thing, even if in a slightly different way, because as a coach you simply can never know when the message may be heard for literally the first time.

Club coaches at the development level - say through a senior in high school - have a different standard to consider than a college coach or a post grad coach. The latter two levels of coaching profit from the sport being a business more than a personal growth mechanism. Yet at these two levels, there is still the same issue in play. How do you get a pro to treat the pursuit with the passion necessary to achieve the desired goal?

At the end of the day, perhaps this is a question for each coach to answer in the manner that best suits her/his own level of involvement. What works for me may not work very well for you. We just believe strongly that each of us needs to find that proper balance that works for us so we can maintain some sanity. If not, then we are doomed to a career long on anguish, short on rewards...and that would indeed be a shame.

No comments: