You will only truly excel as an athlete when you not only do the workouts your coach gives you, but also strive to learn and understand the reasons behind those workouts. What I’ve learned in my four short years of coaching is that it’s relatively easy for an athlete to come on board and buy into a coach’s programming (I mean, the athlete is paying for that, right?!), but the athlete who is open to actually learning from the coach and the process is the one who will really advance in his/her sport.
Coach + Athlete = Team
Coaching/being coached is a two-way street. Ask any of my athletes… I always speak in terms of “we” and “us” to refer to all aspects of training. The way I see it, my athletes and I are a team in defining, progressing through and, ultimately, reaching the training goal at hand. It takes both of us to make the magic happen, and that “magic” can only “happen” when both of us are truly invested in the process. Simply put, I do my job (laying out the plan), the athlete does his/her job (executing the plan) AND in addition, we work together as a team to discuss, understand and agree on how we reach our determined goal. This takes a conscious effort from both coach and athlete, and pays back bigtime in the long run.
Understanding the "why's"
Whether it be hands-on skill development or aerobic/anaerobic engine building, there should always be a reason for what the coach is prescribing. I feel that any workout without a purpose is a waste of time, and a disservice to the athlete. Even if a workout is as simple as 45 min light spinning, there should be a reason behind that, and the athlete should understand why s/he is dialing it back for the day. Without an understanding of the “why” for any given workout, athletes may likely not adhere to the plan, and goals may not be achieved. An athlete’s understanding of the “why’s” behind the workout helps build a better athlete overall, and means long-term success. Simple discussions between a coach and athlete really help develop the athlete for long-term success. This is part of the coach/athlete equation that I feel is oftentimes missing.
What I’ve found
In an environment of fitness building plus underlying principle knowledge, athletes progress. In fact, they often begin to quickly improve their overall confidence and ability to race. What tends to happen is the athletes become part of the process mentally as opposed to just fulfilling workouts that are written in a training plan. They start to really understand WHY they need to push so hard on certain days (namely, to fully recover or successfully race on other days). I like to think of it like this: at the beginning, most athletes are kind of like a rookie QB in the NFL. However, after 6-12 months of learning and understanding the ”why’s” of the gameplan, they oftentimes become the “go-to Peyton Manning” type of athlete who acts as a coach themselves while doing their athletic activity. This is beyond powerful and the ultimate goal for any athlete that is working under me.
If you would like to hear about the specifics of coaching/athlete communication, I encourage you to join me and Jeremy Brown of Mind Right Multisport for a podcast the last week of May. For details on this podcast, or to discuss further, reach out to me at : email@example.com