Sunday, April 14, 2013

The Thread vs. the Whiteboard

We are reading “Bruce” by Peter Ames Carlin. This is a fascinating story of how Bruce Springsteen grew from a normal youngster into the living, still relevant musician. We choose the word “normal” because he really was just a kid who grew up in a working class family. His introduction to rock music per se was watching Elvis on TV and being fascinated by the whole concept. He begged his Mom to rent him a guitar. He and “it” – his career – went from there.

In the mid 1990’s he talks about – Carlin writes – it being “…particularly important to a veteran artist who couldn’t abide the prospect of being dismissed as a figure from yesteryear.”

Springsteen says, “You’re having a conversation with your audience. If you lose the thread of that conversation, you lose your audience. And when people say so-and-so don’t make any good records anymore, or people talk about favorite bands from whom they haven’t bought any records of in the past fifteen years, I always feel that the reason is they lost the thread of that conversation and the desire to make that conversation keep growing.”

We believe coaching is very similar. We are very much having a “conversation” with our team. We talk about our values, our concept of “team”, and our commitment to teaching life lessons, the value of swimming well not just fast. We promote swimming in high school, college and Masters swimming.

In our opinion, the talk is cheap; the conversation and the delivery of that conversation is that which distinguishes relevant coaching. A whiteboard workout is useful if it helps explain a complex set. It does not ever take the place of the personal interaction – the conversation – that distinguishes the relevancy in the delivery of a program.

When we see a whiteboard posted and a coach sitting on the sidelines we feel badly for the swimmer and our profession.

A coach and his/her program are only as powerful to the team as is the involvement in the conversation. Rest on your laurels at your own peril. 

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